How to Change the People Around You

“I try my very best to stay positive,” a friend complained recently. “But it’s tough to do when everyone around me is so negative.” Another friend emailed, asking “What of the pessimistic mate? We are only so strong, and truth is, when it hits home, it is everyone’s issue. How can one person stand up against it?”

A tree doesn’t have to fall on me (as a rule) to recognize when there’s a good question afoot. So I asked The Shower Team, “What do we do about the naysayers we’re more or less stuck with? What’s a positive thinking, deliberate creation witch or wizard supposed to do when surrounded by mud-slinging, sourpussed muggles?

Our hearts do go out to those among you who are struggling so valiantly to make your way in the face of such adversity. The first thing we would recommend is getting to the root of the issue—which, of course, is you.

It may –or may not—help to recognize that not a single one of these negative thinkers in your midst could have come into your experience if they were not somehow a match to you. In other words, in this as in any other situation you find yourself in that doesn’t thrill you (and we know how much you love hearing this)—you did it and are continuing to do it to yourself.

So you might begin to address the situation at hand by first finding your way to acknowledging that “they” are not the cause of your discomfort because “they” could not be there bugging you if you had not somehow in some way (however unintentionally) invited them.

Be all that as it may, you are where you are—surrounded by the people who are around you. So, what to do or where to go from there is the question. More than likely you have already discerned that the approach of blaming those around you isn’t a winning strategy. No matter how justified you may be in observing and noting their negativity or their pessimism or their depression or despair or anger or frustration . . . the observing of ‘them’ in their negativity is only amplifying it and bringing you more of it. There you are doing your best to feel good, to reach for pleasing thoughts and to approach your life in a more positive manner, and there they are tripping you up every time and boy oh boy wouldn’t it just be so much better for you if they would stop doing what they do that so gets under your skin?

You manage to really squeeze yourself in between the rock and the hard place as you continue to use ‘them’ as your excuse for not feeling good. But the good news is, there’s an easy escape. You can start to take the pressure off right away by remembering the only thing that there is to remember in order to find relief: that nothing—and no one—is more important than that you feel good.

We realize this is still considered heresy in most human circles, but we’ll keep saying it anyway because you can’t really do anything to us—and because it’s true. In this area—in your relationships to one another—you are so prone to getting stuck in your drive to justify your feelings. Being “right” becomes more important than feeling good and you will sometimes stubbornly persist in your demands that someone else alter their behavior in order for you to feel good, that you will forego all manner of well being in the process.

You essentially decide that you can only be happy if or when those around you permit it. You decide that your happiness is contingent upon their actions or their approval or their willingness to go along with you in whatever way you feel that they should.

“But it’s hard,” you say, “when ‘they’re’ all so gloomy or critical or cynical . . . “ “How am I supposed to be happy around that??”

We get that you want some magic to transform this condition according to your will, and so here it is. Decide what’s more important to you: how you feel, or how they act. If your choice is how they act, you’re on your own. But if feeling good is REALLY what is most important to you, then put your money where your mouth is. Be picky about how you feel. Decide that no matter what is going on or being said around you, that you have the power to choose what you focus on. You have the power to attend to or to ignore anything happening in your experience. You have the power to choose your response to any stimulus. You have the ability to observe selectively—to dwell on this while skipping over that . . .

You hear these words and immediately you argue that such advice is unrealistic or even impossible. You are willing to suffer all manner of unhappiness in order to prove that this can’t be done rather than deciding to really find out for yourself. But whether you choose to exercise it or not, you always—always—have the freedom to choose what you give your attention to in others as in your own thoughts and experiences.

Oh—and here’s the magic part—as you begin to choose your well being, your happiness, your joy over anything else in every situation . . .. then you begin to establish for yourself a dominant mood or mindset or vibration that is less and less a match to the negativity that you used to attract.

In other words, as you begin to change YOU . . . as you begin to fashion a you who is more aligned with the YOU who appreciates, the You who values others, the You who sees only the best in others, the You who gives attention only to the good in others . . . then you become more and more YOU . . . and in the process, you cannot help but attract what is like YOU. So those around you will either respond by showing you only what is a match to the new and
improved you. Or—they’ll hit the road.

So, once again, it’s the broken record of being all about you. But hey—you asked.


Well someone’s pretty full of Themselves. I would love to put up a fight here but as a former champion (and still a contender) heavyweight blamer of others for my bad mood, I’m afraid I don’t have much of a leg to stand on.

Although I sometimes hate to acknowledge Their bullseyes, I have so often caught myself in that rock and a hard place of convincing myself how right everything would be if those around me would just cooperate or even cheer up. Can’t people see how hard I’m working to be perky?

But this trick about selective focusing as a technique for conjuring up better ambience . . . now that’s intriguing. Brings out the magician in me. Now I see sourpusses—now I don’t! Sounds pretty cool and a helluva better approach than my usual pouting.For now it leaves me feeling like I’ve got the power—or at least, the AC adapter. And that leaves me feeling a little more charged up—and for the moment, complete.

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About Dan

Published novelist, poety, essayist, photographer and college educator. Visit me at www.firstadream.com.

Posted on October 11, 2007, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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