My Best Friend is so Negative

I love all my friends, especially K.  She is a good hearted, loyal person and we’ve been together for ten years.  In those years, we’ve both gone up and down in… well everything; relationships, happiness, health… every aspect of life.  We’ve been best friends through all of our twenties, so we’ve done a lot of growing in that time.

Today we went on a hike.  I love hiking on days like today.  It was beautiful without being too hot, and when we were done it was warm and welcoming.  Today I noticed within seconds of starting that she was upset.  After some small talk, she finally started.  And oh man, did she keep going.  It boils down to this: her relationship isn’t working, she’s gained weight, work stresses her out and she’s generally unhappy.  It’s a lot of negative too take.

I was torn.  Part of me was looking around this beautiful hike and thinking ‘wow, the world is so beautiful!’.  Another part of me was wishing she would just stop being so negative.  Of course, I would never say that too her.  I listened, gave her some input, and finally said ‘hey, why don’t we try and talk about something that makes us happy?’.  That didn’t work.  I could tell she didn’t want too.  She was not in a mindset to think of anything that made her happy.  She kept going on and I kept listening, enjoying nature at the same time.  I was feeling really great.  I’d woken up to a green smoothie, and now I was hiking a hike I thought I was in no shape for and doing really well.  I was surprised how her negativity wasn’t exactly affecting me, but I could see that I didn’t want it to continue.

So I tried something.  I knew it could backfire, but I figured it was worth a shot.  Once when I was having a particularly bad day, a friend of mine asked me to go outside, take a walk, and take ten pictures with my phone of things I find beautiful.  It worked.  When I came back I was in a more positive mindset.  I asked K to tell me one think about hiking that she like.

It took her a long time to answer.  She first said ‘I hate stairs’ and I stopped her and said that was exactly opposite of what I’d asked.  She was quite for awhile.  I tried to give her some hints.  The sun is shinning, the air is clear, the trees are all new and green… anything.  She kept quiet and I wondered if I had upset her.  Finally she said that hiking is the time she can get out all the things in her mind that she’s been having trouble with.  Basically it’s the one time she can properly vent.  Something about being outside in nature gives her mind the clearness it needs to work through things.  I called it her emotional release.

It wasn’t exactly the type of answer I was looking for, but at least she was looking at the hike differently, as something that was helpful to her.  So we talked about being able to say things out loud, not to tell anyone, but to get it out there so it’s not stuck in your head.  We talked about how hard it is day to day to see things for what they really are.  Before I knew it, we were chatting and talking like normal, and most of the negativity was gone.  With that tiny bit of clarity making her realize that she was doing something that helped her emotionally, she started letting go of the negative and feeling good about what we were doing in that moment.

I have never had that much success trying to help someone get out of a negative state.  I used to be resentful when others tried to help me because I felt justified in my negativity.  I felt like it was mine and I owned it, and how dare something try and tell me I should try and feel a different way.  Now I realize that none of us want to dwell on the negative, no matter how clueless we are too it.  It’s natural to want to be positive.  I also learned that guiding someone to positivity has nothing to do with what advice you give them.  It has to do with how you guide their thoughts.  Don’t tell someone to be positive, lead them to want to be positive themselves.  K just needed to remember the positive around her and it seeped into her mood naturally.

What’s really weird is that I felt better because of it.  I felt good about myself to know that a tiny part of my positive outlook seeped into her.  The more I learn about energy, the more I know how to use it.  A few months ago I came back from lunch and walked into the office, and the first thing I said was ‘what happened?’.  No one had said anything, and on the surface everything was normal, but I felt it.  A big fight had happened while I was gone and the whole atmosphere was heavy.  Same with a colleague being angry and upset close to you.  It puts you on edge.  The energy of other people affects you.

If that’s the case, then my energy will never affect my friends in a negative way.  When K needs to be positive, then I’m going to make sure she has plenty of positive energy to feed off of.  To help her, I need to make sure I am the best version of myself.

That was another thing we talked about.  I knew when I was saying it that she didn’t really get it, or want to get it.  She talks about what she can do to change her mindset and make sure she doesn’t do certain things in relationships.  I tried to get her to see that by trying to fix one thing, it was like treating a symptom and not the core issue.  If she can work on her own happiness, right from the center of her, than that positive energy will naturally seep into other things.  If she’s happier, she won’t have those mood swings, she won’t take everything so personally, etc.  Sometimes it’s like talking to a brick wall, but every once in awhile I can see that something I say penetrates.  It was the exact same way with me when I started all of this.  Six months ago now.  My friend who helped me through all of this would say something, and I would give up before even trying.  I would think it was stupid, or think it wouldn’t work, and I resisted huge parts of it.  But now I can see how those things all started to work, slowly at first.  I can see how they helped me build the tools to get to where I am today.

I am nowhere near done.  I’ve reached a certain stage, and that stage is a really great one.  But I see it as achieving my first step.  I have lots of other steps too take.  Today I can feel positive, even happy, without really trying.  I can focus on the good things and really appreciate the world around me.  I can look at my friends going through a tough time, and wanting to be there for her doesn’t feel like a ridiculous amount of effort.  It’s taken me six months to feel this way, and it was hard work.  Don’t let anyone ever tell you it’s going to be easy.  It’s not.  It’ll be one of the hardest things you’ve done.  But it’s so worth it.

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