How I deal with mean and negative people

July 23, 2015

Mean people ... I call them energy vampires and we all know them. People who are constantly sending out negativity in the form of gossip, childish 'mean girl' behaviour, and people who try to suck you down to their level to feel better themselves.

Dealing with mean and negative people can be a huge downer on your day; these people can really drain you. While you might think it can take a while for you to not let it harm you, it is actually possible in a few steps.

People who dress different than the mainstream -like most of my beautiful readers and blogging collegues do- will know what it is to be, at times, the talk of the town and usually be the centre of attention wherever we go.

Fighting against mean people is quite an issue these past years, especially on the internet. Everywhere on the world wide web I read about women (and really, men, too) who have to deal with extremely hurtful and mean anonymous comments on their photos or blog posts. It saddens me how rude and brutal people can be and seeing what it does to their targets. This really needs to stop.

Although I have to admit that I have come across such a comment only once in my 7 years of blogging, I have had to deal with my fair share of mean people on the street. Usually I get more compliments than laughs, but you know how it works, right? You might get a ton of compliments in a day, and one negative comment aswell ... and all that remains in your head is the negative one.

“Ignore the critics… Only mediocrity is safe from ridicule. Dare to be different!” ― Dita von Teese

Whilst it's hard to 'change' mean people who are like that by nature, you can change your attitude towards them and therefore weapon yourself against their toxicity. By being the positive and kind person yourself, it will pay off in the end and you will sleep better.

I show you in this post how I deal with mean people and what my strategies are! Read along ...

 In every mean person hides an insecure human being
As for people spreading negativity about you, know that they might see you as a threat, are jealous of you and feel frustrated and weak. Ofcourse they will deny this.

They might be afraid that other people will find you interesting, perhaps even more interesting than them, and there is really no other explanation, or reason, than this for the gossip they spread about you. By spitting out negative energy to you, and about you, they try to break you down to their level and try to make you less appealing to others. They want to feel better than you, and gossip is the only way for them to do so.

It takes a lot of energy to constantly bad mouth you with hopes others won't find you so appealing, so realize that one day people will become tired of him/her constantly talking (bad) about you, and it will turn against them in the long run. People will ask themselves why on earth the gossiper is talking so much about you.

Protect yourself against these toxic, bad mouthing people by realizing the stated above, and send positive vibes and compassion toward them - even if only in your thoughts. When you realize the reasons for their gossiping behaviour, it will help you stay calm and it will help you to let it slide off more easily. They are simply intimidated by you!

 Kill them with kindness
Being so kind to them, or even think or talk kind about them, will make them uncomfortable and they will not know what to do with it. By fueling their negative attitudes you give them what they want. Avoid that at all cost. You are not like them, you are more mature. Be stronger than them. Do people laugh at you in your face? Give them a friendly smile and continue your business.

Think of them as people struggling with their own identity; they are struggling so much that they want to tear your confidence down. By thinking, and acting, kindly towards them it usually confronts them with their own petty behaviour and it sets you two steps in front of them.

 Do not engage in their negativity
Be the graceful and more mature person. Laugh their negativity off and walk away. Let their negative 'school girl' kind of behaviour for what it is.

There's almost nothing more appalling and unattractive than mature people acting like mean school children.

Pay no attention to them and just be your gorgeous self. Shine!

 Translate their negative words into positive ones
I read a book once (The Charisma Myth - highly recommendable) that said people can read all of your emotions on your face with the blink of an eye, sometimes even without themselves fully realizing that they are registering it. 

By thinking good thoughts about people and envisioning them with angel wings, or something like that, especially if you don't like the person you're engaging with, your face changes into a more friendly expression, says the book.

Hearing negative words pointed towards us gives us a bitter and/or insecure expression. The feeling you get from these negative words can stay with you for days and it's such a waste of energy and your beauty. Translating negative words into positive ones changes your expression to a happier one. When you laugh, you immediately feel better and happier, and it shows. It's a proven fact: laughter wakes up our body and releases endorfines, the feel-good hormones that make us happy.

It's almost impossible to make a happy expression whilst feeling sad at the same time and vice versa. Try it: make a genuine, happy face whilst feeling sad at the same time. It's difficult, right? Now, try a sad face, but feel happy inside. You see, it's difficult to do so aswell. 

Remember that your true emotions always shine through in your face and when you hear negative words pointed towards you ... it shows. The worst thing about it ...  people immediately sense it, and might even use it against you, take advantage of it to feel themselves better. Converting their mean words into positive ones might help with that. It's difficult, but worth a try.

 Remember that the gossip is not your fault, and don't take it personally
The negative attitude, or gossip of others about you, is not your fault. It says something about the gossiper's insecure character, and their way of living. 

No, they don't laugh at you because they're bored, and no they don't gossip about you because you're "such a weirdo." They do it because they're insecure themselves, they don't know how to handle your courage to dress differently and your shining presence. You are not responsible for the way this person moves through life. It is their flaw that makes them do it, not your way of dressing, or the way you choose to live your life.

Don't take the negativity or gossip personally, because most of the time it simply isn't. And even if it is personal, and perhaps even true, know that sometimes the most useful life lessons come from people you wish weren't right.

 Show them positivity
Usually I advice to weed out mean or negative energies from your life, you really don't need it. However, sometimes a negative person is someone you love, or who is in pain and you don't want them out of your life. So, how to deal with it? The advice below works also with a negative and mean collegue at your work who you have to face every working day, and who might be hard to avoid.

One of my all time best friends is an extremely negative energy. Complaining about everything, all the time, hours on end. Yet I don't love him any less in those 8 years we have eachothers strong friendship. What I usually do is disarm him from his negativity, and show him the positive side of things, asking him to tell me something positive that has happened in his life recently. It does help and I really see his face changing from bitter to more relaxed. 

Some people are fighting a struggle inside which makes them having a negative outlook on life. Abandoning them out of the blue would not be fair. If it is someone you love, talk with them and ask them what is going on, ask them what their reason is that they are so bitter. Sometimes all they need is a little nudge in the right direction, some understanding and/or a friendly ear that listens to them.

It did took me a while to disengage from my friend's negativity and remain objective, but still give him a listening ear friends should have. 

 Focus on your own energy
Live your life to the fullest, focus on your own (positive) energy, steer away from gossip, don't start it and don't engage in it - it's not attractive nor cool to do so. In the end your positive energy will rub off on those around you and on your own mood; people will see who the true beautiful soul is eventually.

One last tip: Dita von Teese wrote a stellar article on xoJane about how she deals with people making fun of her, and she has a strategy worth applying to yourself. You can find it *here*.

What are your strategies for dealing with mean people? Let me know in the comments below!

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  1. Very well said! You are a great inspiration, I endeavour to do as you have suggested and let the mean people just fade into the background and not bother me.

    1. Please do so, dear Christina, because they are not worth your precious energy and time. Thank you so much for your kind words, they mean a lot to me!

  2. You are one of the sweetest, loveliest and most beautiful ladies in the vintage world and it has been a pleasure to follow your blog these last few years - I always look forward to your posts! I can't imagine anyone being negative to you, but I do believe that there must be some very jealous people out there because you are so stunning.

    Also your food blog is amazing <3

    1. Your words bring tears to my eyes, thank you so much. It means a lot to me. And it's absolutely vice versa, you are an inspiration and one of the most authentic and original vintage souls out here in blogging land.

      Thanks again! <3

  3. It sounds pessimistic, but I think the best way to deal with mean people is to just accept they will always exist, it doesn't mean they're right. You just have to ignore it because it's always going to be a reality to some extent. Your blog is always so positive so it's hard to imagine why anyone would be mean about it :(

    1. Oh I don't think it sounds pessimistic. And you are right, mean people have always been around and will always be around though I do think it can be lessened. I think with the arrival of internet it actually became a lot worse, because everyone felt sooo safe behind their keyboards posting anonymous posts.

      I think a little awareness might help. But yes, like you say, mean people will always be around.

      Thanks so much for your comment!

  4. Stellar, insightful post, sweet Lindsay. I was nodding my head the whole time. I'm a very sensitive (HSP), emotionally attuned person with a sunny disposition and a desire to only do good and treat others nicely, so mean people have never sat well with me and have at times really done a great deal of damage in my life and to my psyche. I find that the "killing them with kindness" approach or simply distancing myself from them as soon as possible usually work best as my coping methods with such.

    Thank you for penning this.

    ♥ Jessica

    1. I totally hear you on this, I am HSP aswell so mean comments have done a lot of damage to me, too.

      Thank you very much for your comment!

  5. Worthy read, my dear Lindsay.
    Truly: worthy.
    I have had many "vampires" in my life; the seem to be attracted by my energy (or something like that). A friendship, now gone, was a hard and long struggle with a person so sad and self-loathing-- and no matter how much strength I've put from my side, she would manage to burst it in 30 minutes. I loved her dearly, so it took me way too much emotional strength to leave her forever.
    Maybe you think I was not strong enough - but I can not and will not have more than one "sucker" in my life.. and since I was born by one.. I believe having a mom like that is just the proper dose of mean, hard, stubborn, depressed.... yeah.
    How do I manage living with her for 29 odd years?
    I have a "happy place" that my mind goes to when her "moods" overflow the room. I don't shut down, or make walls.. I just understand one thing: my life is MINE.. and no one deserves to be the owner of my happiness - no one but me.
    Selfishness at it's higher level. :)
    Again: great post.
    And: FIGHT on! Push the meanies from the Lindsay-train and ride toward the rainbow! :)


    1. Marija, atleast you did everything you could and that's what counts. Some people don't want to see the light at the end of the tunnel and when it does not do you any good there's no other option than to leave. You tried a different way first.

  6. As Dita Von Teese said "I only take criticism seriously when it comes from someone that I admire".

    I used to get very upset when people criticized me but now I ignore them and I keep smiling. I know what I am worth and I don't let people bring me down anymore.

    1. You go girl, that's the spirit! I admire you for it!


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