It can be exhausting trying to remain positive with negativity growing like weeds around you. There’s nothing quite like getting a daily count of people getting sick or dying in your community. It is very disheartening when people you know personally are afraid to come out of their homes or go to the grocery store. It’s unreal knowing a parent is afraid to hug her grown children when they come to visit or decline their visit in the first place.
I know firsthand of these real-life tragedies. To think they are happening here in America is incomprehensible.
So, what is one to do? How can you help someone that is literally being scared to death? How can you help prevent someone with mounting fear from reaching the point of total isolation?
First let me share what won’t work. Trying to convince someone that everything is okay, that their fear isn’t real, that everything is being blown out of proportion. These strategies do not work. You must understand and accept their fear is real to them. They not only are getting daily reassurance; they are seeking it out. They are reading newspapers, watching every news channel possible, listening to radio updates, and subscribing to newsfeeds on their phones.
Here are four ways you can help lift others from negativity without exhausting yourself in the process.
Practice Empathy. Before you can help anyone, you must start from where they are. If you think about it, you cannot give someone directions to your house without knowing where they are first. To practice empathy, you must begin to understand how and why people are feeling the way they do. If someone is sad, you want to know why they are sad. When you know why, you can begin to understand why they feel that way. Some of the ways to express empathy is to share something like, “I know how you feel. I felt the same way when I lost my cat, or when I was laid off.” If you cannot relate personally, share someone else’s experience. “I understand how you feel. My neighbor went through something similar. We spent a lot of time talking about his situation.” Empathy allows you to understand someone else’s perspective. When others feel understood, they will be more receptive to hearing what you have to say.
“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
Listen intently. This sounds easy. What’s easy is do, is also easy not to do. If you develop the skill of listening intently, you will be remembered. You will stand out. Most people cannot have a conversation without looking at their cellphone. Listening intently is done without judging, without offering advice, without saying, “yes, but.” Listening intently means putting the phone down, closing your laptop, making eye contact. When you listen intently, you not only hear what a person is saying, you’re sensing their feelings, observing their body language. You are literally connecting with your heart, mind, and body.
“There is no greater gift you can give than your undivided attention – your time.”
Discover something good. It’s reasonable to expect negative individuals to notice things that are wrong. Things that are not good. When you ask someone with a negative outlook how things are going, you’re likely to get a list of everything that is going wrong, broken, or not right. The quickest way to change their focus is to ask what one thing is going well, operating correctly, or is right. You may have to get very basic. It may be the mail carrier said good morning or smiled. It could be a child cleaned the bedroom or picked up the toys. The goal is to get the individual to recognize something good. It can be small to start. This needs to be done daily. It’s even better if the individual can find something positive hourly. Once you can get the individual to identify something positive, you are getting the individual to look for positive things. As we look for positive things our attention shifts away from negative thoughts. Eventually the thoughts go from “everything is bad” to “things aren’t so bad” to “hey, there are some good things happening.”
“We find what we are looking for.”
Share positivity. Negativity is spread like a contagious disease. In order to combat the negativity, sometimes we have to spoon feed positivity to others. The positivity should be something the individual can relate to. If an individual previously enjoyed gardening, find articles on flowers and plants to share. Send pictures of their favorite flower and let them know it reminded you of them. If they enjoy sports, highlight their team’s record and send them a post on how well their team is doing or share information about team players. Sometimes, seeing others doing well or continuing when “all seems lost” can help change a person’s perspective. The same can be said for car buffs. Sending pictures of their favorite antique car or the latest model can perk someone up. Sometimes simply giving someone a compliment can brighten their outlook. Share how impressed you are with the children being so well-behaved while they are working from home. You can praise a co-worker for going into the office during the pandemic. A little recognition goes a long way in helping to lift one’s spirits.
“When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change.”
When you put in the effort to lift others and brighten their day, you cannot help but brighten your day too!
Remember, there is greatness within you. You must choose greatness. It won’t develop on its own. I believe in you!
Take Action Today!
If you would like assistance with overcoming negativity and assisting others to do the same, I can help you. We can meet by phone, on Zoom, or in a place you deem safe with social distancing. Whether you choose me or someone else, a coach will expedite your results.
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Published by Bryan M. Balch, Results Coach
Helping Individuals and Businesses Achieve Desired Results