Bob Livingstone is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCS 11087) in private practice for 22 years in San Francisco, California. He holds a Masters Degree
Negative energy has a profound effect on adults, teens and children. People who carry around this adverse attitude can appear to be very powerful to those in their presence. Negative energy is expressed by put downs of you or your friends. These comments are stated either directly to you or behind your back. The comments may be an accurate description of how this person feels or they may be made up in order to accelerate drama.
Negative energy can also be expressed by him not participating in a discussion with you. You will try to get him to talk by asking questions, but he will either ignore you or make comments like, “Whatever”, “I don’t care about that” or ” I’m not interested in that.” He can also express his displeasure by giving you the silent treatment and making believe that you don’t really exist. These folks often do not share much enthusiasm about anything or anyone. They tend to be sullen and agitated.
There are several reasons why negative energy is experienced by many as overwhelming and frightening. In our society, the message we get is that in order to succeed, we must be better than others. Therefore this mindset creates an unhealthy competition which leads to put downs of others. It does not enhance a spirit of cooperation.
We spend lots of time watching television whose popular reality shows specialize in the humiliation of the species. We are very influenced by this and learn that humiliating others is the cool thing to do. We think that this is funny when in reality, it is hurtful to the human race.
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The news on television has talking heads trying to articulate their position on issues of the day while belittling the opposition; making them appear to be a lesser life form. We learn that making light of other’s view point is desired even though it may be devastating to those who are on the receiving end. Those folks who are filled with negative energy have their own set of issues. They usually don’t have much self-confidence and don’t feel that they are physically attractive, smart or talented. Therefore they make fun of others in an effort to elevate their own sorry vision of themselves.
People consumed with negative energy may have low self-esteem because they are abused or neglected. They may also be spoiled and used to having things go their way all the time. This sense of entitlement leads them to be overly sensitive to feelings of rejection if things don’t go their way. This hurt quickly leads to anger where they make fun of others or say bad stuff about them to their friends.
Those of us who encounter these folks with negative energy may get triggered by this angry/hateful/dramatic/ mindset. This person may remind us of others in our lives who have been abusive towards us. Therefore, we may sense the instant need to stop this creepy, scary, pervasive feeling as soon as possible because it feels so threatening to us. We may try to stop this feeling by going overboard in making friends with the negative energy person in order for her to not direct her venom at us. You may find yourself joining in the putting down your other friends in order to keep her from turning rage towards you.
Other ways of dealing with the negative energy person are to get into arguments with him or to go way out of your way to avoid him.
How can we deal with negative energy people?
- Tell them that you will not be friends with them until they stop saying nasty things about you and your friends
- See if you can engage them in a real discussion of how they really feel about themselves.
- If you are a child or a teen, reach out to your teacher and tell her that you are concerned about the person with negative energy and you would like her to get help to learn how to express herself.
- Encourage them to try some new activity and invite them to an activity that you enjoy.
- Understand how you are affected by this and try to be aware when you are being triggered and feel on the verge of impulsively reacting.
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