Dig Baton Rouge

East of the River

By Katie East

Negativity is contagious. Even when you can spot it in someone else and try to avoid it, it can creep up on you. And once it’s inside, it can make you sick. And even worse, you can begin to spread it too.

Our outlook on life can affect everything that happens to us. Even if you don’t believe in The Secret you have to admit that good things consistently happen to positive people, while that annoying coworker who’s always complaining seems to have the worst luck.

I think we all have the opportunity to be good, happy people if we just focus on bettering ourselves instated of blaming the world for what is wrong. I’m not Anne Frank positive, but I do believe in people as a whole.

In the past, I have not been the most optimistic person in the world. In fact, I was a bit of a pessimist. Or as I used to call it, a “realist.” Now, I see that’s a copout.People who say they are realists are just cynical pessimists looking for an excuse for their negativity. To them I say: you create your own reality. If everything in your life sucks, you might want to consider that you’re the problem.

The world is filled with negative people that don’t just self-loathe. They hate themselves and almost anyone who crosses their path.

These people are emotional bullies. They want to bully you into having a bad time with them or being annoyed at the world. As they say: misery loves company.

So, how do you avoid these people?

Many psychologists would say to cut these people out of your life cold turkey. I disagree. I think you have a duty to show them that happiness is obtainable in their own lives. It’s a choice. Plus, you can’t just fire your bleak coworkers because they’re affecting your headspace.

How do you combat negativity in a positive way? How can you defeat a pessimistic attitude? It can be tricky. It doesn’t always work to just be a ball of sunshine. Unfortunately, light does not always defeat darkness. Usually, pessimists just get pissed off and convince themselves that their judgmental and analytical nature is the only way. Everyone else is just naive or blind.

Bleak or angry people usually just want someone to commiserate with them. The best way to pull them from the dark side is to listen, lament and then put a little bit of a positive spin on your assessment of a situation. Subtle positivity is the best way to get through to these people.

The biggest trap is falling into their black hole of despair. This is especially easy when you’re trying to fit in with a new group.

As a comedian, I am constantly surrounded by angry people whose job it is to overanalyze minor injustices and bitch about them. It’s very easy to go to an open mic or show in a great mood and leave contemplating suicide. The best comedians know how to get worked up onstage and then leave it there. Even the best insult comedians who spend their time shouting and seething onstage know how to decompress once they step away from the microphone.

I can’t just avoid the negative comedians, otherwise I wouldn’t have a job. It’s especially hard when a group of comedians dog on another comedian who’s not there to defend themselves.

Sometimes, I have to walk away or I’ll accidentally join in and say something mean that I don’t even necessarily believe. Group mentality has a strong pull, especially when there are bullies in the mix.

Other times, when I can’t walk away, I just sit silently and don’t engage. This is usually the best method when dealing with a bully. Every once in awhile I’ll stand up and defend the person who’s not there to defend themselves. Unfortunately, even as an adult, this is very hard to do.

Many people think bullies end in middle school or high school but they still exist even in your 30’s. And those who have stuck with it have just gotten seasoned and even harsher with their hatred.

You can’t always be a hero and stand up to every bully or pessimist. The most important thing to remember when encountering these people is to stay true to yourself. You might not be able to change them, but as long as they don’t change you, you win.


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