You deserve better.
We've all dealt with a critical friend at some point. That person who seems to always see the bad in everything. The person who is constantly complaining. The person who attempts to emotionally manipulate you to get what they want. The person who you feel like nothing is ever good enough for them.
Depending on who it is and where you are in your own development, it can be very easy to get sucked in to their negativity. You may start to feel overwhelmed and feel as if they're dragging you down. The good news is that there are very effective ways to deal with these types of people that will take you from feeling like a doormat, to a strong and empowered individual. Here's how to deal with critical people in your life.
1. Realize and understand why this person is acting the way they are.
Think of it as a person being unfulfilled, and their inner child is coming out and screaming for attention. This shift in perception isn't only very real (after all, in psychology nearly everything ties back to what we didn't receive as children), but it also helps those of us trying to deal with them.
So when you're trying to come up with ways to deal with this person, as yourself, "If this person were a little kid, how would I act? What would I want them to learn and know?" Put yourself in the shoes of a parent, guardian or just an adult. I'm not saying this to sound or influence you to look at them in a condescending way, but rather to recognize the reality that their inner child is wounded.
2. Learn how to set boundaries.
We teach people how to treat us. If you're a parent, guardian or teacher, then you should know that this is crucial to creating proper discipline and having a healthy parent-child, guardian-child, or teacher-student relationship.
So how can you set a boundary in your friendships? You can do this by simply making the person aware of what is acceptable and what isn't acceptable. Do this either through your words, your actions or a mixture of both.
For instance, if someone is being rather negative and directing it at you with a non-constructive critical comment or a pessimistic attitude, you can say something like "I don't appreciate your comment," "Can you please not talk to me like that? It makes me feel ____," or, "I don't feel like your comment is helpful to me right now. Can you please stop?"
Make it known that you don't really accept someone talking to you in this way. You may need or want to pair this with an action. Like distancing yourself from the person or not acknowledging them when they do talk. As you normally would with a child, you may want to say, "Please don't talk to me like that. If you continue, then..." and state what you will do. Follow through with it if they break that boundary you set.
Learning to do this with very difficult people who don't have any sense of boundaries can feel very draining. You may also feel like they just don't "get it" and will never "get it." Know that it isn't your responsibility to teach them; they have to learn this for themselves.
3. Create distance if the negativity becomes too overwhelming.
Doing this will probably be difficult, because you may feel guilty for not associating with this person very much. This is especially hard with friendships that have lasted years. However, remember that you need to do what is best for you.
You cannot create the life of your dreams if you don't focus on doing things for yourself first. By creating distance from the negative people in your life, and surrounding yourself with more positive and like-minded people, you allow yourself to grow and receive the support you truly need.
To do this, it may involve taking some serious risks, like taking a new job or moving away. It's risky and can feel very scary, but if you feel and know deep down in your heart that it's what you need, then you will never regret it. Above all, focus on doing things for you and your needs. It's the only first step that we can take to truly feel reconnected to ourselves and create the life of our dreams.
This article was originally published at Jennifer Twardowski. Reprinted with permission from the author.