Dear Barb—Negative Reaction

Dear Barb:

Hi, my friend and I are taking courses at AU and we often get together to study or work on projects.  We are both in our late twenties and can’t afford to go to normal university since we are both working full time.  AU works great for us.  The problem I am having is with my friend.  She is so negative that it is beginning to wear on me. 

I have always been an upbeat person and see the good in most situations.  Even when we work on projects she says we will probably get a failing grade and that we are most likely doing it all wrong.  It’s difficult for me to convince her that what we are doing is correct.  She keeps saying we will never finish our degrees; we’ll never get a boyfriend or get married.  Following an afternoon with her I feel so down, it takes me a while to shake the feeling.  I’ve tried to encourage her to see things differently, but she says I am just living in la la land.  What would make a person so negative and is there any way that I could help her to see the world in a better light? Thanks, Kayla.

Hi Kayla:

There are certain characteristics that can be attributed to negative people and it seems your friend has many of them.  For example, they are worriers, they always believe in the worst-case scenario.  They are always ready to hand out advice to others, even though their own life may be in shambles.  Negative people are ever ready to share bad news about others and the future.  They are reluctant to move outside of their comfort zone as they fear the unknown and can only see a future full of failure.

There are a few ways of handling a negative person, one is to be patient with them and attempt to understand where this negativity is coming from.  If you can get them to open up you may be able to point out a different world view.  You seem to already be attempting to do this.  When your friend points out all the negative things that could happen, point out the good things that could happen.  When they are critical of other friends, again, counter with something positive about that friend.  When your friend says you will never get your degree, counter with, how excited you are to get your degree and begin your career.  Share some uplifting books that you have read.  It will be difficult, but it’s a start.  See where it takes you.  An obvious alternative is for you to walk away from this person, but I suspect that is not something you want to do.  Best of luck Kayla.

Email your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.
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