Does Your Negativity/Illness Define You?

Posted by: Jo Banks

Date: 15-10-2015

Do you know someone who is incessently negative or who always seems to have one illness or another? Tips and advice on how to deal with negative people...

Do you know someone who is consistently and constantly negative, they see nothing positive or good in their lives, they obsess about how awful their job is, how their friend has let them down, how they have no money etc. They identify with their negativity so much that it seems to become who they are.

Alternatively, have you ever met someone who seems to revel in an illness they have? They can’t wait to tell you every tiny detail of the illness, what happened at their latest appointment at the doctors/hospital, what treatment they’ve had and are having and how dreadfully it’s affecting their lives etc. Again, they identify so closely with their illness that it almost becomes them. The two, their negativity/illness and who they are become virtually inseparable.

Both types can have a tendency to monopolise the conversation and can seem to get almost exited when they tell you how awful things are. Worse than that, somehow they seem to have a knack of being able to provoke the ‘competitive’ side in us, and we react by getting into a competition about an illness we have or how bad our life is/has been and all the terrible things that have happened to us.

So why do they do it? Well, in most, it seems to be classic attention seeking (of course there are people with serious psychological issues and I'm definitely not addressing those here). Whether they realise it or not, it’s usually through a subconscious need to be loved and listened to and their dramatic tales of woe get and keep them in the spot light. All the focus is on them, “Oh how awful for you” “Hang in there you’ll be fine” “Oh I’m so sorry, how are you coping?” It also feeds the Victim persona really rather well.

You may recognise yourself here (to a greater or lesser degree) either as someone who talks a lot about their illness/is consistently negative or as someone who gets in a battle about who’s illness/life is worse (we learn to do that in the playground by the way – ever remember the arguments we had as children where the kid that could end with “Well my dad’s a policeman” was the winner?)

How to change your own negative behaviours

If you identify with any of these 3 personality traits (and let’s face it, we probably all have a bit of one or all to a greater or lesser degree, I know I do!), here are some practical things you can try:

1.   Give yourself a pat on the back for recognising it! Acknowledging emotions and behaviours goes a long way in being able to deal with them and have a better future.

2.   As you’ve read in my previous posts, we get more of what we think about, so constantly thinking, dwelling, talking, identifying with an illness or an issue(s) brings more of the same illness or issue to you. How can you change this? Stop dwelling on it! If someone asks you how you’re doing you say:

    • “It’s been tough but I’m getting there”
    • “My mind’s great and my body’s close behind”
    • “Getting better every day”
    • My personal favourite - "I'm great thanks!"

No matter how hard or tempting it may be to start the ‘woe story of me’, resist with all your might. Don’t get drawn into the ins and outs of what’s happening – smile, thank them for asking and move on to talking about more positive things. The more you practice this, the easier it will be and the more people will want to be around you. If you do find yourself launching into your story, stop yourself and say, “but I’m feeling much better thanks”.

I have a great story to illustrate this. I have a friend who is in her early 40s and is a single mum who was diagnosed with breast cancer just over a year ago. From day one, she was completely matter of fact about it and didn’t give it any negative power. Never once all the way through her year-long treatment did I see or hear her complain or moan about her situation, how unlucky she was or why did it happen to her. We all knew it was hard for her and I’m sure she must have said some or all of those things at some point, but on the whole she was utterly focussed on remaining positive every moment of every day and beating it ‘The B*****d’ as she named it.

If anyone had ever had a reason to feel sorry for herself, it was her – did she? Not a minute of it. The result, a year and a bit later, she’s beaten it and been given the all clear. She is now busy creating the most wonderful life for herself and her son and is a true inspiration.

3.  Find a better, more constructive way to get the attention you need. Do something lovely and unexpected for your friends or family. It could be something as simple as baking a cake, cooking a meal, taking your child to the park, calling a friend you haven’t seen for a while and listening to them for a change. That will get you positive attention and they’ll love you all the more for it.

4.  If you find yourself getting in to a ‘tale of woe’ competition. STOP, smile and move on – change the subject if you can. So what if the other person wins? Those competitions are definitely not the competitions you want to be known for winning. Do you really want to be the one who is the most ill, has the worst luck and who more bad things happen to? Nope, I thought not!


Now I’ve pointed these things out, you’ll probably notice them whether your doing them or you'll notice them in others. If you find yourself in a conversation with someone who is being negative, I know it’s hard but try and steer them back to positivity, if you can’t, don’t buy in to their negativity, listen with passivity. They are their issues not yours. Make sure that when you finish talking to them you immediately put yourself back in a more positive state; think positive thoughts, think of someone or something you love in order to stop their negativity from rubbing off on you.

Have you ever been in a good mood and then spoken to someone who has been completely negative and afterwards you’ve thought, “Oh I feel awful now. I was in a good mood before” That’s because that individual's negativity (their ‘vibes’ if you will) have transferred to you because of the negative frequency they were on and unless you get rid of that negativity, you’ll no doubt go on to pass it on to someone else.


Do you suffer from this problem or do you need help managing someone who does?  Contact us for a free, no obligation consultation on how we can help you.

JO's FIRST BOOK: Thoughts Become Things

Visit the website for Jo Banks' first book, Thoughts Become Things now available in paperback and Kindle formats.