Many times, no matter how much we endeavour, we cannot change things for the person who insists on being bounded by their negative attitude. Though we may try we quickly find ourselves confounded. They will only convince themselves; any amount of cajoling on our part may simply lock them further and further into their stubborn pride. It will do neither of us any good.
What underlies negativity is something so profound as to equal the person’s stubbornness. The more stubborn is the negativity, the deeper and more profound the pain possibly being masked; worry, sorrow, loneliness, fear etc.
We tolerate the person with a negative attitude out of empathy and because it’s wise to do so. There’s no benefit to them or us in drawing attention to the thing that annoys us and confuses them. There’s maybe a masked depression. Would we make it worse by agitating their inner fury? It should not be.
Ours is to tolerate, not simply because it’s right – it’s respectful and dignifying – but because it’s necessary. People with a negative attitude forego much of the personal power they would otherwise have.
But they can wear us down and anger us for their petty First World complaints. We too need some relief valve or we become susceptible, especially those of us who (to the negative person) are annoyingly positive. Though, it’s not our fault that we are convinced that a life of gratitude, grace and thankfulness is the most appropriate way of living. We have been born that way, possibly. In any event, it’s best not to over think things here.
The strong need to stay strong if they are to be of any value to the weak.
The positive person must protect their strength, ensuring their peace and joy emanates from the truth of the gospel.
If there is veracity to our strength then joy and peace will follow us and they won’t depart for long when we feel occasionally estranged to them.
If we are in a contingent relationship with the negative person, ours is to loan them our strength and grace as space to get through petty complaints by seeing them as they are.
Negative attitudes are often underpinned by unreconciled emotion deeper down. Our negativity won’t help them in theirs. We are best to offer them grace – which is undeserved favour – at least to a point.
Staying positive when others are trying to infuriate us is easier than we often think it is.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.