Keeping positive in the face of consistent negativity is not an easy thing to do for even the most positively cheerful of us. Excessive criticism, put downs (veiled or otherwise) and passive-aggressive behavior (where you feel that someone is getting back at you indirectly, without telling you why) can put a damper on your positive cheerful, optimistic, and appreciative energy in any situation. You might even find that you've picked up some of the anger, resentment, irritation, vindictiveness and indifference directed towards you and made it your own.
The common advice we're given is to stay away from someone who is trying to hurt you. But sometimes that's exactly what the person is trying to do -- run you off. In other situations staying away from such a person may be impractical -- in may be that the person who is trying to hurt you works in the same office, is your next door neighbour or is a sibling you have to deal with on a regular basis. How do you deal with the situation?
1. Remember that nobody can hurt you without your permission
The story often told in many personal development circles is one about the Buddha who was constantly insulted by one man. Every day, the Buddha just sat there calmly. Finally the angry man asked the Buddha why he failed to respond to the insults. The Buddha replied, "If someone offers you a gift, and you decline to accept it, to whom does the gift belong?"
Even when another person's words and actions are truly unacceptable, or he or she has wronged you in some way, it is how you respond that will take you through it without making yourself a victim of their treatment of you or how you perceive their treatment of you to be. In other words, you choose your own feelings -- and your own response.
2. Remember that other people can't make you do anything you don't want to do
Sometimes going to the person and telling him or her to STOP IT seems like the only way to cut it off right at the source. But if hurting others - spiting others or putting them down is the only way a person knows how to make him or herself feel better, direct confrontation is like injecting cocaine into a drug-addict's left wrist.
You can not win in an aggressive confrontation with someone who spends his or her time meticulously planning how to hurt you. If you feel that the person's words and actions are really getting to you --especially if you are one who is oversensitive to others words and actions or have a low tolerance level -- train yourself not to respond or act until your own feelings and emotions are under control.
To do this, you have to learn how to express how you truly feel in an assertive - not aggressive way. Assertively expressing how unacceptable the other person's words and actions are, is taking back your power from the person trying to hurt you, while aggression or passive aggression (where you just take pot-shots at someone without telling them why) is handing over the power over your feelings to the person trying to hurt you.
3. Remember that nothing will be gained by getting all frustrated and bitter
Life is complicated enough without trying to figure out why one person is always putting you down, always trying to contradict you, always taking cheap pot-shots at you or always saying and doing things to hurt you. When you dwell on a rude remark or underhanded action done by someone else, you not only feel worse than when it first happened, you also feel stuck and helpless.
The feeling of stuck and helpless is your soul's call for you to move into a place of forgiveness. Forgiveness is not about the other person; it's about you giving yourself the permission to emotionally move on from someone who has hurt you, or emotionally move away from someone who is trying to hurt you.
4. Last but not least, remember that there will almost always be somebody who adores everything about you and says only nice things about you, and someone who hates everything about you and has nothing nice to say about you. The truth lies somewhere in the middle.