Ever wonder “How can I keep a positive mindset when I’m surrounded by negative people?” This question came up frequently when we did a recent podcast listener survey. We don’t want to let other people’s moods affect our mindset, and we don’t want their negativity to drag us down. How can we stay positive around negative people? Today I’m sharing three simple ways to keep a positive mindset.
WHAT YOU'LL LEARN:
- [3:34] Keeping a positive mindset by allowing ourselves to feel our frustration
- [7:06] Keeping a positive mindset by making decisions about how we want to live
- [11:44] Keeping a positive mindset by deciding how we are going to respond to negative people
- [16:40] How we get in our own way when it comes to being positive and keeping up a renewed mind
[3:34] Keeping a positive mindset by allowing ourselves to feel our frustration
There will be times when we have to keep other people’s moods from affecting our own mood and mindset, such as when we are surrounded by negative people, or when we have people in our lives who have different perspectives than ours.
The first thing we can do is allow ourselves to feel that frustration about not having support from others. It can be extremely helpful to letting that out in the open, whether we are venting to God or sharing with a best friend. We don’t want the negativity to disrupt our lives. Instead we want to voice the frustration rather than let it rattle around in our brain. When the frustration is out then we can help ourselves to understand our emotions and why they make sense.
This is one reason why journaling can be such a powerful tool. I know some people aren’t into journaling, but I am truly shocked about the number of times I sit down with all these thoughts bouncing around in my head and I end up understanding myself so much better after journaling about everything. Journaling can really help us see why we are struggling or frustrated.
For example, in a situation with a negative or unsupportive person, the feelings become real once I express them. It makes sense that I am feeling frustrated, and I am able to get those feelings out in a safe and healthy way through journaling. Our emotions are not meant to be abusive or abrasive to others, so allowing ourselves to release feelings within the context of kindness to others and honoring Christ is important. When we do this, we can observe and process our emotions without letting them take over or dictate our actions.
We see a great example of this in the Bible as Jesus is in the garden of Gethsemane the night before he was put on trial and eventually crucified. He sat in the garden and poured His soul out. He said that he did not want to go to the cross, but He wanted to do God’s will. He wrestled with God and with his emotions, and He asked God for help. So he involved God in this process, but He was also allowing Himself to feel the frustration and to express it. I take great comfort in that section of scripture, because I realize that God gave us emotions for a reason. They are not meant to be stuffed.
So again, we can help ourselves focus on the right things and keep a positive mindset when others around us are negative by feeling the frustration and letting it out in a safe space.
[7:06] Keeping a positive mindset by making decisions about how we want to live
The second step to keep in mind is that we get to make decisions about how we want to live. I’m going to make this general statement and then I’m going to back it up and talk about it, but: We need to choose where we want to dwell. What are we going to believe about the situation?
We are in charge of what we want to focus on. No one can take that from us, and it is our choice. Others’ thoughts about a situation or about us do not have to be our reality and they do not have to affect us.
We can think of this phenomenon like the scotch tape that sometimes sticks to us when we’re wrapping a present. We might even find a piece stuck to our arm or leg after wrapping a bunch of presents. I think of these negative attitudes, behaviors, or circumstances like those pieces of tape. It’s understandable why they are sticking to us, and why they could affect us, but they aren’t us. We can peel that tape off our bodies and leave it behind. We don’t have to let the negative perspective into our thoughts, because what we think about will manifest in our minds. That is what will grow and strengthen.
When we keep our hearts focused on God’s truth, we can sympathize and understand the frustration of having people around with different opinions or who want to drag us down. At the end of the day, however, this is kind of tough love. We get to choose what we’re going to do with it. It takes more discipline, but we are given the chance and the opportunity to remake our brains every moment.
Even if we have been stuck in negative patterns, we have the God-given ability to change what we focus on. Our brains are being formed every second (by the thoughts we think, the actions we take and any chemical changes in our brain), and this process is referred to as brain plasticity. That is the responsibility we all have in choosing our reality. Changing our reality starts with changing how we think.
We can be frustrated, but we have to decide where we want to dwell. We have to decide what we will believe, and what we will let stick to us. We can go through the process in our brains where we acknowledge the frustration and understand where it comes from. At the end of the day, we have compassion for ourselves and then we get to decide where we are going to dwell.
[11:44] Keeping a positive mindset by deciding how we are going to respond to negative people
The third step that can really strengthen our decision about how to respond to negative people or situations is deciding how we are going to respond. We decide where we dwell emotionally, but we also choose what actions we will take based on our thoughts and emotions.
Our actions are a direct result of our thoughts. That is true in brain science, and it is also true in scripture. There is scripture after scripture about how what we focus on becomes our reality.
When making these decisions, there might need to be some boundaries put in place. There might be some changes that need to happen with a relationship, or we may need to interact differently to cope with certain situations.
There is a specific way we define boundaries in the Christian Mindset Makeover. We talk about boundary builders and boundary breakers. Boundary builders are activities, habits, mindsets, or choices that enforce the protective boundary around our healthy thoughts. In the first part of the Christian Mindset Makeover, we figure out the broken soundtrack that we are struggling with that is causing our struggles with self-sabotage, perfectionism, or whatever else. We then work on rewiring using brain priming. Over the next 67 days, we are also doing work to defend the positive thoughts we are putting into our brains. It is so easy for us to get sidetracked by other people or circumstances, so we put boundary builders in place to protect our developing positive mindset.
The three types of boundary builders we talk about in the Christian Mindset Makeover are:
Healthy Physical Body: nutrition, exercise, sleep
Healthy Social Interactions: soul-satisfying connections with others
Mental Wellness Strategies: organization, routines, natural remedies, time for play and creativity
These are activities, habits, and mindsets, or choices we make to enforce the boundary that protects this renewed mind God wants us to cultivate.
Minimizing boundary breakers is the other half of our action steps in protecting ourselves from negative influences. Boundary breakers are activities, habits, mindsets, or choices we make that compromise that protective boundary around our healthy thoughts.
This is a deeper conversation than we can fully have here, but as an overview, boundary breakers can be a result of our own choices. We have to take responsibility for that. Maybe we are reinforcing the situation and strengthening a habit of being around a negative person or situation without nipping it in the bud. Maybe we are not proactive in speaking up or protecting ourselves. Maybe we are indulging in negative behavior. There are also boundary breakers that have absolutely nothing to do with us. In the last few years, we have dealt with COVID and other horrific news stories. Job changes, cultural changes, and church changes can all cause chaos.
While we may not be able to control all the boundary breakers, we still have to take responsibility for how we are going to interact with them. We need ways to protect ourselves. We can acknowledge what is in our control and take proactive steps forward.
[16:40] How we get in our own way when it comes to being positive and keeping up a renewed mind
We need to acknowledge that there might be other things that get in the way of being positive and keeping up this renewed mind that have nothing to do with another person or situation. There might be things happening inside ourselves leading to broken boundaries.
We may have automatic negative thoughts, based on broken core soundtracks. We may believe intellectually that we are loved by God, but we can’t seem to operate from that place of feeling His true love. We might have trust issues with God. Learning to have a renewed mind and releasing some things to God requires trust. It requires feeling safe with God. If we do not, then we can stay stuck and it can be difficult to fight off these negative influences in life.
These battles inside ourselves can make us feel stuck. It can feel like we are trying to trudge uphill in the rain with high heels on, without our umbrella. It is easier to make progress toward health when we remove some of those factors that make mind transformation more difficult.
That is why I encourage you to check out the Christian Mindset Makeover to deal with these deeper issues. We have a really great free training that explains some of the phenomena we talk about here on the podcast about how to renew our thoughts. It also explains more about the Christian Mindset Makeover, and it even gives you a chance to get a bit of a discount on the Christian Mindset Makeover for a limited time. You can sign up for that free workshop here. I would love to be able to connect with you there and share more.
We are going to continue this conversation next week, as we discuss the hot topics we all struggle with in terms of renewing our minds.
OTHER PODCAST EPISODES ON POSITIVE MINDSET:
- Ep 7: Mindset Matters: Managing Your Inner Critic
- Ep 61a: Mindset Matters: Help! I Need a New Mindset + a New Attitude
- Ep 129: How to Identify Toxic Thinking Patterns and Break Free from Negative Thoughts
- Ep 133: Brain Priming: #1 Brain Hack to Renew Your Mind and Overcome Negative Thoughts
- Ep 144: Creating New Mindsets for Fresh Starts + New Beginnings in the New Year
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