How To Deal With Unsupportive or Negative Family/Friends – 3 Tips
I received a request from one of the readers to talk about how to deal with negative family members and we’re going to expand that to include negative friends or people around you or in your circle that you’re kind of stuck with. My experience with this goes back many years. My family had been supportive to an extent but they didn’t understand what I did. Not one of them really ever understood me and I’d had to deal with a lot of negative people and negative people are never fun.
I can remember a couple of things that I had to deal with then, just to give you an idea of what it was like for me,. For one, I felt as though NOTHING I did was ever good enough, like if I did something and I wanted to share it with them because I’m all excited with what I’d created, they’d say something negative about it, like, “Oh, you know maybe you should do something with your life that’s, you know, NOT THAT”.
For me, the thing that used to piss me off was someone would always say, “Are you making money from it?” or “Did you make any money from it?” You need to understand that I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs, but as an artist, those kinds of comments frustrated me. I had always wanted to create things and when I would show them to my family, it would be like, “Are you making money from that are you making?” And I’d be like,”Look, I don’t care about the money! I created this thing because I wanted to”. But for them if it’s not making money, worthless.
I’m a very calm stable person, but that is one of the few things that would get under my skin, the “Did you make money from it yet?” bit. Instead of saying these things, they could have said, “Good job!”, or “I’m proud of you”—not that you should need that but that is always nice to get from someone that you pour your heart out to and you share these things with. It’s also good to know that people support you regardless of the things that you choose to do in life.
In my case, I don’t think anybody really saw my path or where I was going, and I think they did it out of out of love. Because they loved me and they wanted me to be successful as a person. But they constantly tried to tell me to just stop and get a job. They’d say,”Tim, it’s cool you want to make games. But you have computer skills—you can get an IT job.” You could do this, you could do that—- and that just gets to you after a while. Why do they have to be so negative? Why can’t somebody just say, “Hey Tim! That thing that you want to do, I don’t understand it at all, but I believe you can do it. Good job! Go buddy!”
I didn’t get that kind of validation anywhere in my life and for a long time I was angry at my family and my friends and the people around me that just weren’t supportive. But then I realized that this is all my fault. First, I kept sharing stuff with the people that were negative, which was insane. To the people that were supportive, it was as if their support didn’t matter as much as some did. I wanted the support of the very people that wouldn’t give it to me. I guess it’s kind of like one of those the grass is always greener things where you constantly want the things that you don’t have. I wanted the approval from the people that wouldn’t give it to me, which I think is only human.
It took me a long time to figure all this out and navigate this whole weird web of stuff and I realized, specifically for this one person who was always negative, that I felt like I was being dragged down and no matter what I would say, it wouldn’t be good enough. I had to decide to leave and I had to get out of there. I had to get away from this person. That is the number one thing that I would say: If you have negative people in your family and they’re don’t support what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter if they love you–if they don’t support you in a good way, it’s still negative.
1. Eliminate negative people from your life
I have very loving parents. They love me to death but they didn’t support what I was doing because they didn’t understand it. They thought that their path was better for me. I love my parents. Same with my sister, who always felt that she had a better understanding of who I should be rather than what I am. I had to get away from it. That’s the number one thing you can do—just get away.
It sounds simple and yet at the same time it is very, very complex especially if you live with your parents or someone or if you’re in a relationship with someone…it could be all sorts of things. You have to get away, that’s tip NUMBER 1. I think the most effective way is to eliminate negative people from your life. This allows you to kind of recoup and become who you want to be.
It is only human to choose to stay on negative paths because the people around us expect us to stay there. I have noticed a couple times in my life that whenever I’d eliminate certain people from my life I feel like I have this fresh new start. I feel that I can reinvent myself now because I’m not being judged or I’m not being made to be a person that I don’t want to be. I can go and become whoever I want to be and meet new people who will support me. So kicking negative people out of your life is DEFINITELY number one.
2. Limit time spent with negative people.
There are times when you just can’t eliminate people from your life for whatever reason. That’s when you want to limit time around them, that’s number two. For a long time I lived with a very toxic person and it was very damaging to my health. It’s not just the lact of support, it’s also the constant nagging that their way is better for me. It just was not a supportive environment at all and I felt like I had to defend my choices, what I was doing and why I was doing it. I felt trapped.
So one of the things that I did was I limited my time around them. I would spend a lot of time away from the house or in Starbucks or in wherever I could work. I had a little office and I would close the door, lock it, and spend a certain amount of time there then I would come out feeling better about myself. I even adapted my sleep schedule a bit so that it wasn’t exactly the same as the other person’s. We didn’t have to interact a lot and that did wonders for my mental health too. I think that really improved the situation between us.
3. Set healthy boundaries.
The third and final thing that I would say is just to set healthy boundaries. I think one of the reasons many people are affected by negative people is because they don’t set healthy boundaries on what kind of shit they’ll take and what kind of shit they won’t. And people in your life can have a habit of just walking all over you and that gives you the sense of not having any control over your life or that your life sucks. These people’s lives suck so they try to make your life suck too. Not setting healthy boundaries will allow them to do that to you.
When you have a boundary, you say, “Hey! I will not allow anybody to cross up to this point”. For example, if someone were to borrow money or something from you, and he doesn’t pay it back or return it, then the boundary you set will let that person know that you will not loan him anything again, that that’s your limit. When people walk over our boundaries, and we let them, that gives them license to walk all over us and dictate to us what we should and should not do.
Setting healthy boundaries and sticking with them will let people know the limit. I would make it very clear that I wasn’t going to accept their crap and that helps a lot. It trains the people around you on how to treat you and if anybody is halfway intelligent they’ll pick up on it. They will understand that they’re not going to get anywhere if they continue and try and push your boundaries.
They need to realize that this is my bubble. Don’t come in my bubble. Don’t talk about these things that I’m passionate about. You need to say, “I love you, I still want you in my life, but you cannot cross this boundary.” You need to be very firm about it; otherwise, they will walk all over you again.
When you start changing to become a better person, negative people do not like it. They’re afraid that you might leave them and rob them of their significance. Many times a lot of this negativity and criticism comes from the fact that they feel significant by making you feel insignificant. They get their significance from robbing you of making your own decisions for your life. That is NOT a healthy relationship to be in.
There’s no way to really fix this problem. There’s no cure-all solution, no magic bullet. BUT there are things that you can do. The best way, for me, was just getting away from it, becoming my own person, and eliminating those people from my life. It really helped me a lot as a person. It helped me grow and allowed me to breathe a new breath of life and reinvent myself. I understand if you can’t do it and I’ve since developed a sense of very healthy boundaries and I think a lot of the people in my life see that now and they know that they can’t affect me negatively in those ways so they don’t even try.
If you’ve got negative people in your life, leave a comment below. I want to hear from you all and hear your story. If you did anything to get rid of them or they’re still in your life, let me know either way because I want to learn and see how I can help.