Favorite Quotes

  • You're not too old, and it's never too late

Friday, September 26, 2014

How I Handle the Negative Nellies of the World

For those of us old enough to remember, this is Nellie Olsen, from Little House on the Prairie. The queen of "Negative Nellies."

How do you handle negativity and negative people?

I received some great advice from my mother when I was younger. She said, "Whenever people vent, or share something negative about someone else, put it out of your mind. Try to forget it." These words of wisdom helped me in two ways: first, I learned that by putting negative thoughts/opinions out of my mind helped me not repeat what I'd heard. Second, I learned not to carry the negativity of others around with me. I have enough baggage of my own; I don't need to take on other peoples' problems.

I've put this advice into practice so much over the years, that I feel I've perfected it. This past week, a a "negative" issue arose where I had forgotten some key pieces of information. One of the people with whom I was speaking about this issue thought I was nuts; at least, that's how I felt when this person reacted to something I'd said. How could you not remember that? I had to explain that when negative information is being bandied about, I listen with half an ear. I don't want to be drawn into the negativity. It's not that I'm being disrespectful or uncaring about a person's upset. It's more a matter of self-preservation.

I know many people who thrive on this kind of emotional interplay. They listen as the "Negative Nellie" goes on and on about something or someone, then the person or people get sucked in. It's like a tornado of negativity. Before you know it, everyone's up in the funnel, being tossed about. One person passes on the negativity to another and so on, and so on.

This isn't the case with my friend who thinks/thought I was nuts this week. Her problem is that the Negative Nellie is impacting my friend's life and she can't seem to get away from the swirling vortex of detriment. The Negative Nellie may have some serious emotional issues, which only makes things worse.

I beat myself up for a few days because I felt stupid for not remembering important bits of information regarding this negative upset, but now I'm comfortable with how I handle this sort of thing. I don't remember because I've put it so far out of my mind, and I'm happier for it. My friend can't help but be impacted by this bad juju. She's closer to the Negative Nellie than I, and has more cause for interaction with her. So I keep everyone in my prayers in hopes that things will get better for them. Meditating helps as well. I'm finding that meditation is the cure for many emotional issues I encounter in life.

This clip sums up what I'm feeling and what I'm trying to say in this post:


Now on to the positive side of my week...

Last weekend, the group of which I'm a member, Women Who Write, held their annual (soon to be bi-annual) conference last Saturday. I met with three agents regarding both of my WIPs, my novel and my memoir. I got good feedback on both! Two of the three agents told me I could submit to them after I make some revisions. I was thrilled! I haven't had positive feedback on my writing in a while (outside of my wonderful critique group) so this was just what I needed. I feel motivated and energized to get some work done. So I should probably stop blogging and get to "real" work.

I hope for anyone reading this that if you're dealing with negativity in any way, you take my mom's advice: listen, then forget it.


  1. My negative Nellie emailed me today after a four day break from contacting me. My position ended in the organization we both belong to, and she has no reason for contacting me, other than that she may feel guilty about how she treated me and others. Her guilt is not my problem. In connection with the theme of your blog, I will tell you that over the years I have both overeaten and under-eaten as a result of stress she flung at me. Thus, I enabled and empowered her in ways she didn't even realize. No more. I will no longer give her any power and will no longer force others to listen to my complaints about her. If I ever need to vent about her again, I will try a more positive outlet, such as writing poetry. But I hope that she does get the hint and realizes that I won't respond to her anymore.

  2. I get it about giving others power when you take out frustration (about said others!) on yourself. Good for you for no longer giving this person such power in your life! I, too, hope he/she gets the hint. It's amazing to me, but sometimes these Nellies need a ton of bricks to fall on their heads before they get the message. And I don't mind if you vent to me...you just need to make sure I'm listening! ;o))

  3. Nellie did not get the hint. I did not reply to yesterday's communication, and I received another communication today on a different topic. I will not reply to that one either. Maybe if I don't reply a thousand times, that will be the ton of bricks.