“You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
There is so much truth to this. Think about your friends or people you meet on a regular basis. How do you feel being with them? I bet there are people with whom you feel sad or grumpy and others that light up your whole day.
Even Buddha taught that we should pick carefully with whom we spend our time with.
Emotions are contagious and in literature there is even a term for that, called emotional contagion (EC).
Knowledge-base: Emotional contagion happens when one person or a group of people influence the emotional state of another person or group of people, whether through a conscious or unconscious use of emotions.
The problem with that is, that although we often can detect certain emotions in the people we interact with, we are often unconscious on how their emotions affect us.
There’s an interesting experiment researchers did with yogurt. They divided yogurt into two halves. They attach one-half to a device measuring the electronic activity and started pouring milk over the other half. (Yogurt “eats” milk.) As soon as they “fed” one-half, the half with the electrodes attached began to react.
What has this to do with negative people? Well, as much as “yogurt knows yogurt”, “people know people”. That’s because you or the people around you will always recognize whether consciously or unconsciously the state the other is in.
This means that you can’t go around grumpy and expect other people to be happy and as a consequence you need to change your own mental state first.
Unfortunately even if you’re in a good state there are people that will still be negative no matter what you do. That’s the people you should avoid spending time with. Some people call them “energy vampires”
Several studies confirm these findings. Some of them even show that indirect relationships, I.e. through social media are contagious. Your happiness depends on the happiness of your friends and their friends, etc.
Another finding shows that each additional happy friend increases your happiness by around 9 percent. Unfortunately, this works the other way round as well. Researchers found out, that a depressed spouse often leads to a depression in their partner as well.
Of course, you shouldn’t cut out everybody from your life immediately, but only as a last resort. There are a few things you should definitely do to prevent getting affected by this negativity.
First of all, you should get yourself in a positive state and protect this state. There are several good things to do for this, for example, in general, be around people that are good for you, staying healthy (physically and mentally), as well as trying to see the positive around you.
If you are around negative people you should try to affect them with your own positivity. Talk to them about their worries or anxieties and practice active listening. If you have a positive friend as well, bring him along with you for support.
Help them if you can and change the topic, to bring new thoughts to their head, if you can’t help them directly.
If all of this doesn’t work reduce the contact to them, and if it continues to drain your energy you should abort the contact altogether, as harsh as this sounds.
Don’t get negative yourself, just because others decide that their life needs to be filled with negativity. Embrace live to the fullest.
Steps to take:
- Get in a positive state. Stay healthy, both physically and mentally.
- Notice how you feel around different people.
- Try to affect the negative people positively, but if it’s not working cut them loose.