“A complainer is like a Death Eater because there’s a suction of negative energy. You can catch a great attitude from great people.” -Barbara Corcoran
Recently, I’ve been asked by my students to teach NLP techniques on how to deal with negative people. For those of us on a path to expand and realize our full potential, nasty, negative people are bound to show up to help us with the lessons we need to learn. The Dalai Lama once called these people “special friends” because they offer us so much opportunity to learn about ourselves and evolve!
But when you’re face to face with a true hater, someone who has decided that you or something you believe in needs to be cut to shreds, chewed up and spit out – well, your first thought is rarely, “Yippee! Another character-building opportunity!” No matter how much work you have done on yourself, no matter how much time you’ve spent in meditation or in therapy, no matter how pono or happy you were feeling the moment before, our hackles are wired to shoot up when faced with someone who is angry and on the attack.
I ran into this recently while on the board of an organization that I value highly. The organization was is severe financial difficulty and, because of my position, I was the one who had to be the bearer of bad tidings: the organization had to shut down. You know that old phrase, “Don’t shoot the messenger?” Well, I was the messenger and while many people were supportive, others had their AK47’s out and were ready to form a firing squad! Even though I’ve been meditating since I was five, trained in NLP techniques since thirteen, and have a daily ho’ponopono practice, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the negative energy of these people didn’t affect me at times.
So how to stay calm, both in the moment a hater attacks and afterward, so you can respond in a way that serves you?
To be prepared even before being confronted with a hater, the first step is to recognize that perception is projection. Yes, there definitely are negative people in the world who will harm others when given an opportunity. But how you perceive someone and how you react to them will be based on either your “stuff,” (a psychological term for emotional baggage), or your clarity. The more you have cleared old negative emotions of fear, anger, sadness, hurt and guilt, the clearer and more centered you will be when the situation hits.
How to identify your unresolved stuff? Notice what triggers you and where your reaction is stronger than it should be given the situation. Maybe you feel very anxious around someone who has a particular tone of voice or type of body language. Maybe you feel anger when someone questions your motives or your integrity. Maybe you feel guilty and ashamed when someone criticizes your competency. Your negative hot buttons will lead you to your baggage.
We’ve talked about different ways to clear old baggage in many of these blogs. Forgiveness practices like ho’oponopono are invaluable for releasing old wounds. There are several NLP techniques such as Mental Emotional Release® (MER®) that are very effective for identifying and releasing old negative emotions. Use whatever tools you have in your toolkit – or get help – to release the negative emotions that no longer serve you.
Next, when a specific situation arises, try some reframing. Reframing simply means to be willing to see something in a different way. For example, if you get a seemingly dirty look from someone, you might initially think, “That person hates me!” Possible reframes? “He must be having a bad day.” “She doesn’t know me but if he did, she’d love me!” “He’s probably having a gas attack!”
My students sometimes protest, “But that reframe isn’t true!” Really? How do you know? Are you positive your original interpretation was correct? Even if it was, does thinking about it that way serve you?
In my situation with the organization I mentioned, I used a few reframes or different ways to think about it: “Who better than me to lead this process? Though I don’t like what the haters are saying, I’m confident and know who I am. I can let their criticisms slide off my back. I know their reactions are coming from fear and confusion.”
In the heat of the situation with a hater, take a deep breath. Listen to what is being said without absorbing the energy of it. If you feel that you’ve cleared whatever old baggage you had around the situation and you have no extra charge on it, you’re in great position to state your truth.
Stating your truth is not about justifying or defending or arguing. It doesn’t further inflame a situation. It’s often a calm, simple statement of “that’s you and this is me.” Your truth might sound something like, “I hear what you’re saying and respect your right to have that point of view. I happen to disagree and have a different point of view.”
For example, in my case, I was able to listen to complaints, take a deep breath and say, “I understand your concern and am sorry that our organization came to this. However, I’m confident that I did the best I could — and as well as anyone could have done — given the circumstances.”
But what if none of this works for you? What if you have a hater in your life who is determined to make your life miserable?
Walk away. Learn what lessons you can from that person, then let them move out of your life. As Oscar Wilde said, “Some people cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.”