“I want to crawl under a table and curl up in the fetal position.”
I laughed when I read these words, but couldn’t help but feel sadness at the same time. They came in response to a post I recently wrote about someone’s discovery that she was her own Frenemy.
A reader asked, “but what if I'm not my "frenemy" - someone else is? What about those people who are so negative they seem to suck the life out of everyone in the room? I have family members who make me feel so awful, I want to crawl under a table and curl up in the fetal position.”
She’s dreading a family gathering this weekend, wondering what she'll face:
- Food – “this salsa is too spicy” and/or “why don’t you add jalapenos to your salsa?
- Wine – “you really should have chilled this” and/or “I don’t think you know what ‘serve at room temperature’ means.”
- Her outfit – “Trying to look 15 again?” and/or “Oh I see you’re now dressing like mom.”
She’s even bracing about weather complaints: “Sun causes skin cancer. Can’t we go inside?” or “Why does it always have to rain and ruin the picnic?”
It does to me! I think most of us have a least one person in our life (by choice or by fate) that we’d rather not be around.
No matter what the situation, these naysayers manage to find the bad in everyone and everything. And not just big stuff like moral character and politics (which are slippery topics even among the most civil). These people can find nastiness in every nook and cranny – even the mundane.
I don’t need to paint more of this picture – you know what I’m talking about.
The answer to the question, “aren’t these frenemies dangerous?” is YES.
A study published in the American Journal of Public Health reported that exposure to negative relationships can lead to an increase in your body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference of 10% or more (adjusted for age, smoking, diet and physical activity).
Why? Because negative relationships trigger unwanted feelings and behaviors, increasing our stress levels and affecting how we feel about ourselves. And we know what this can lead to – emotional eating and “curling up in the fetal position under the table” instead of going to exercise class.
The bigger issue is what to do about it…
There’s no easy or one-size-fits-all solution, but here are a few things to consider:
- Spend time with people who make you feel good. Be deliberate about your choice of companions.
- If you can fire your “friend” – do. If you can’t (e.g. co-worker, family member), do what you can to reduce the amount of time you spend around her or him. Of course, this is sometimes easier said than done, especially when it’s someone you are close to or has been a long-time friend. It takes courage – be courageous!
- In cases where you can’t escape them (e.g. a parent, sibling or co-worker), you can change the way you respond to them.
- Consider compassion. Negative people are unhappy people. They may have some serious ugliness in their lives, and their way of coping is to lash out at others.
- Use stress management techniques such as deep breathing, which can be very helpful in the moment, and practices like meditation and yoga which can have a long-term benefit.
As I always say:
“It’s about what you can do, not what you can’t.”
Remember that no one can make you feel bad without your permission. And misery loves company - so try not to engage – that energy sucker will move on.
Have a question or comment? Please reply/leave below and feel free to share this with anyone who you think might enjoy it.
Wishing you well!
P.S. Need help with that “focus on what you can do?” Let’s have a conversation to see if working together will help you make better choices for your health and happiness. I offer a complimentary session and scheduling is simple with my online booking system: Schedule Now