Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Handling the Negative People in Your Life

Roses by Alexander Du Brus

Allow your cursor to linger on the scripture references and they will pop-up on this page.

Critics and gloomy, negative people
  can put a cloud of doubt and depression on you  Now and then there will be people whose moods will dampen your love for life and make you lose a sense of yourself and what you are all about. The gloomy, morose people who never have a praiseworthy thing to discuss, can somehow damage your soul and effect your physical health. 

When beset by an emotionally needy person who has begun to depend on your spiritual support but never gets beyond the same complaints and fears,  you need to always point the way to Christ, through prayer and through His Word. You alone cannot adequately counsel a person the way Christ can. Offer a prayer, aloud, on the phone, each time this person has a problem, and soon you will see that they lose interest in discussing it with you.  You might try giving them an "assignment" of a good book to read that will effect their minds positively. Ask them to take some time to read Philippians 4:8 and dwell on it.  Remind them that after awhile  Christ expects them to grow up and rise above their problems. (Hebrews 5:12)
Rose with Raindrops by Frank Krahmer

 You may also consider asking: "Do you know it is possible to overcome pessimistic thinking by substituting a delightful though for a depressing one?  Think of something that would really make life better for you, and dwell on that." 

While I am speaking of "doomsday," I feel it is necessary to emphasise that it is not healthy to be "watching" constantly for the end of the world. The Holy Spirit speaks in Revelation 1:7 that every eye shall see him. No one needs to be looking toward Jerusalem, or waiting for the destruction of the country, or trembling in anticipation (unless they have not obeyed the gospel, or have not been faithful after being converted) because when the end comes, someone will be washing dishes and see him. Someone else will be minding their store and see him; others will be going about their daily jobs and see him. No matter what country they live in, they are going to see him. You can read the description of this by running your cursor over this verse: Revelation 1:7.
Beautiful Summer Flowers 
by Alexandre DeBrus

When the scriptures urge us to watch, (1 Peter 4:7) it means to live carefully and be watchful for your soul, for the souls of others, of the things you do and say to maintain a clear conscience and a right relationship with God.  We are supposed to be found working, not watching the news for reports of the end of the world. We are to watch ourselves or rather, examine ourselves daily, to see that we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).  That is the kind of watching we should be doing.  Those who are constantly wishing for the end to come lack a certain compassion for the people who are not yet saved. Instead of hastening the day of judgement, they ought to use every spare moment to convert their loved ones and friends.

Perhaps those who want the end to come are depressed people who feel there is no hope in life, and that they have nothing worthwhile to live for, or maybe they just do not want to endure trials in life, or maybe they just want to get out of working.  It is possible they do not love their husbands, wives or children, and enjoy predicting the destruction of the world. They may not really enjoy the life they have been given and do not want to live it to the fullest and be as productive as they can be in the cause of Christ.

 Whatever the reason for being obsessed with the end times, it is not a good thing for the family to be too concerned about the future. The Bible says the day  (today) has enough problems, and we are not to worry about tomorrow. There is an old song with these lyrics: "Will He wait a little longer?/There's so many out in sin/Will he wait a little longer/ give us time to gather in?"  (Read the lyrics here.) If you are raising children, they need to be raised in a positive atmosphere and learn how to love life and be grateful for each day and have a glad hope for tomorrow. Press here for the lyrics to the song "Great Is They Faithfulness."

Christ offers an abundant life (John 10:10) . The scriptures speak of living, of life, of long life for many people, and of protecting life. Instead of watching for the "end," (which will change nothing), a dedicated Christian needs to put on the armour of God, (Ephesians 6: 9-19) and  fight the good fight of faith. (1 Timothy 6:12). They need to study the Bible and be strong enough to handle the difficulties of life on earth. To be only wanting the end means to avoid the trials and things which give wisdom and understanding.

 Those who want to sit around worrying about the end times need to pray instead that God would give them another day to gather in a host of people that are lost in sin.  The fact that the earth still remains shows God's love and mercy toward us, yet, even before the end of time, we need to get things right with God and live according to His principles.  That way, no matter what happens, we are prepared.  Homemakers need to be 'found working" and keeping their houses orderly, serving their families, showing hospitality, resting, creating, training their children, and sharing the word of life with others. 
Old Roses in a Basket 
by Albert Williams

Although the apostle Paul was a prisoner of Nero when he wrote the letter to the Philippians in 61 A.D.  the letter is full of admonitions to think about love and loveliness.  This is a great treasure full of joy for all of our friends and kin who want to gripe and complain about life. "Whatsoever things are lovely...think on these things." (Philippians 4:8). In order to handle this problem, I have divided the situations into these categories, with possible solutions to helping them and getting free of the effect of their gloom. 
A Still Life of Pink and Yellow Roses
by Alexandre DuBrus

1.Suppress the negative and uphold the positive: While any Christian homemaker feels she should minister to other women and support them in their role at home, she needs to know what her limits are and how much she can take. If she has answered the phone and spent a few minutes listening to her friend, she has to keep in mind that she could be using up time and thinking ability that she needs for her home and her family.  By giving the person the tool that they need to become a lifter and not a leaner (Philippians 4:8), the person has the power to solve their own problems and go on to help others.  Sadly, we often enable the complainers and prevent them from rising above their problems, when we give them too much time on the phone.

Let me give you an example of cheerfulness in spite of the depressing circumstances. A young lady I know recently suffered from an illness that dragged on in such a way that she never felt she was going to recover to her old bouncy self completely. Her grandmother told her one day, "I believe if you will take a shower, get dressed and fix your hair, you will feel better." Though she felt she was not energetic enough to get up and have a normal day, she did what her grandmother suggested. She still felt sick, but she got a few minutes of sitting-up time, read her mail, had a cup of tea, then went back to bed. Using this method of looking on the bright side by dressing as though she was well, she was able to recover a little more of her life each day, until one day she was up all day doing normal things.
painting by Robert Walker

  Overcoming difficult circumstances does not always mean that the circumstances are changed. It means that you do not allow things outside of your control to drag your thoughts down into despair. It means you rise above them with strong mental exertion.

Realize that your personal ministry is on your own mission field in your home. Too much bad news or too many gloomy comments can demoralize your own people. In a sense, we at home are in a war and that war begins with demoralizing the troops. Once that happens, it is very easy to lose the battle for the hearts and minds of the family members. Therefore, make sure your complainer friend or relative knows that you are not able to absorb too much negative news without it affecting your performance at home.
Woman Reading
by Mary Casatt

 We all know of the doomsdayers and naysayers who cannot muster up a good thought or good word about anything. Realize that the beliefs and thinking habits  of such people keeps them constantly in a state of agitation, which is contrary to the will of Christ. (Philippians 4:8)

Remember that you could be cheating your family of the very "best" of you
 when you spend too much time trying to lift up the spirits of the chronic complainers and the fearful end-of-the-world-watchers. We are not supposed to be thinking about doomsday. We are supposed to be thinking about today's loveliness and today's duties.   Do not allow the company of a complainer to dominate your life. I know that there are women who feel that their children have never seen their own mother happy and relaxed, enjoying them and the home, because there has always been another grown-up with emotional problems that they felt obligated to help. It is difficult to concentrate on home making when there are problems on your mind, and it is foolish to borrow someone else's problems.

by John William Waterhouse

List the people in that person's life that could already have tried to help them. Sometimes we think we are the only ones that can help a negative, fearful, gloomy person, but in most cases, that person has a  husband, another, a father, brothers and sisters whom God placed in their lives. A person who really wants to get over their problems will seek help through reading and researching, rather than burdening a young homemaker. Besides their own relatives, there are ministers available, often without charge. Find out if the person is attending worship services or Bible study, and suggest it as a solution to their problems.  Circumstances do not always change, but when a person learns to think of the circumstances in a Christian light, they feel much differently.

When pressed, a busy young homemaker may say something like, "I'm really busy right now but I can chat for a minute and then I must go."  That will not give enough time for the other person to enter into their tales of woe.  While we never want to appear callous or unsympathetic, most of these women are grown-ups and need to understand that the homemaker has a responsibility to fulfill and is not obligated to solve other people's problems.

Direct them to helpful books and beautiful magazines that stimulate the mind and work of the homemaker. Sometimes I go and visit an open-house show-home just to see what a house looks like that is clean, and though I realize no one yet lives in such a house, its spaciousness always inspires me to de-clutter and rearrange furniture when I get home. There are also other sources available to these people who want to have help. The web has a lot of things on it that will help. 

Avoid using the phone to counsel as it will interfere with your concentration on your life at home. Email is quieter and you can think more carefully about what you say. Include in the email the links you want her to look at. If she writes back, you can take your time answering, and include another link. Give the gloomy person links to homemaking videos, flower arranging, sewing, housekeeping, and good uplifting movies. Often a person just needs to watch something that will take them outside of their own problems. Positive reading can make complete turn-arounds in the gloomy minds of some people. Give her a friendly assignment via email that she can view silently.  Things like: paying a compliment to someone, getting dressed to look her feminine best, listening to soft music, sending a card to someone, finding a recipe online and following it, ironing her husband's dress shirt, cleaning out a book shelf, watch a series of videos such as How to Clean House Like a Pro.   Also, assign the memorization of scripture, such as the command of Christ not to worry about what will happen tomorrow, in Matthew 6:34.

Know that not everyone is "good soil" (Matthew 13:1-8) and will not allow good things to grow in them. They may have a sour attitude that makes it more difficult to absorb good instruction.  Some times the seeds of encouragement do not reach receptive hearts. Sometimes you can reach someone for a time and then they allow the cares and fears of the world to come back.  The homemaker may have to face the regrettable task of imposing time limits on conversations and visits.  The people today are no different than people of the past, and our great-grandmothers had ways of putting such people to work or enlisting their help, but they would not stand for too much self-pity for long.  We need to recapture that sensibility today and give the critics and the fearful something to do that is useful.

Move on quickly to something more productive, when someone will not apply the tools you give them to improve their lives. Jesus warned his disciples not to stay in a place where people would not listen, but to go on to the next place. (Matthew 10:14).  Behind this command of Jesus is a very good reason: if you allow too much discouragement in your life, you soon become disabled and discouraged, and  immobilized. The naysayers can  think only of the objections to your message, and not the possibility of success. So, Christ told his disciples to move on and find those whose hearts were receptive. Save your adrenalin and your energy for someone who will take the message and grow and teach others.
Painting by Susan Rios

 If someone's problem is robbing you of your health and your ability to function fully at home, you need to realize that it is not your job to rescue them. This is certainly not meant to imply that Christian homemakers have no compassion for people who are hurting, but that they have a great work to do in their families and that no one else can do it as well as they can. The future and the memories of their families lie within the actions of the homemaker. If a person does not receive the encouragement or the instruction and improve within a reasonable amount of time, Matthew 10:14 should be applied. Jesus knows that it is not only for the good of the one being helped, but for the one who teaches. It keeps the mind of the teacher and helper healthy and strong and alert, and not discouraged.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, cousin Lydia, for such an amazingly wonderful post!! :D I learned the hard way what you have so eloquently put into writing! ;)

LadyLydia said...

Hi Cousin, good to see you. Yes too often women at home feel obligated to take on more than they should, and their children do not get the best of their mother.

LadyLydia said...


When I had my first baby my husband told me that was my main job: to take care of the children. That was a great relief. I think every husband should reassure his wife this way

Mrs. Santos said...

Thank you for this post. I have been dealing with VERY negative people for a month now. My mother died a month ago and left me the sole beneficiary of her life ins. This has created havoc in my family and I have been bombarded with hatefulness, false accusations and negativity. My husband and I are in the process of investing this great gift in order to provide for these "bitter" people. In the end, I hope that they will be blessed and see that God was providing for them in arranging things this way.

Until then, this is an encouragement to me even though it is on a slightly different level. Remembering to take care of my family and Phil 4:8, and all the rest of this post has been such a blessing. Thank you LadyLydia and Thank you Lord.

fGs said...

Lady Lydia,

This was such a timely post. What I took away from it was to focus on the Lord and our home (and those in the home) and not spend our time and energy on those that will not build these up. I am struggling with dealing with a "friend" that for the last 6 months will call me and talk incessantly about her problems, but has not once asked me how my family and I are doing. In that matter, I appreciate this post ever the more so. Have a wonderful day!

Anonymous said...

This is such a great post!! We live in times of great negative attitudes. I know God doesn't want that for His people and it is wonderful to be reminded of that. How can we be a light for Christ if we are downhearted and discouraged, people need to see an example of happiness in us.

Katie in FL said...

The advice to avoid counseling on the phone is so true. Twenty years ago, my husband and I stayed with my in-laws for a short time. My MIL has always been available for counsel to ladies, but she had just had cancer surgery at the time and women were calling her up with their problems while she was in bed post-surgery! I was a young newlywed at the time, but, boy, I wish I could go back and screen those calls for her today. :)

Katie in FL said...

The advice to avoid counseling on the phone is so true. Twenty years ago, my husband and I stayed with my in-laws for a short time. My MIL has always been available for counsel to ladies, but she had just had cancer surgery at the time and women were calling her up with their problems while she was in bed post-surgery! I was a young newlywed at the time, but, boy, I wish I could go back and screen those calls for her today. :)

Anonymous said...

It is ironic that so many people who burden others with constant fears, woes, and negative thinking, are really quite independent, self-reliant people in other spheres. They can figure out how to go get groceries, get gas in the car, be on time to the movie theatre, how to order something on a menu, etc. They know when their paycheck is due and how to deposit it in the bank. Also many of these people never have people imposing on them or innundating them with problems. They somehow have figured out how to keep people from doing that to them. I find that a little amusing: that they can call a homemaker daily and yet no one calls them with problems. Perhaps this is what they need, and one day when their children are older they will be so overwhelmed with their problems, they will not have time to talk to anyone else.

Anonymous said...

There are people who actually get offended if you call them wanting sympathy for a problem, yet they can use up a lot of your own time telling their problems. That needs to be called to their attention!

LadyLydia said...

I find no harm in discussing problems with younger women, as after all Titus 2 requires the older women to teach the younger women. The things I wrote are concerning the homemaker who spends enormous time on the phone trying to help a friend whose attitude never improves.

Joluise said...

For any woman who is suffering depression, seek help, don't stay at home trying to cope. Mental illness can hit anyone and sometimes it needs medical intervention. No one needs to struggle with anxiety or depression on their own. With a grandmother who committed suicide in the 1950s and her son much later and depression running through the family I know how important it is to seek help. And being at home away from people can manifest the problem and make it worse.

TheTayloress said...

Lady Lydia,
Thank you so much for these two articles; people often come to me with their issues, and I struggle at times to keep my joy and peace, when they seem to drain it all out of me!
I've been learning, in a down to earth way, that "we are NOT our own"! My attitude/struggles effect my husband (directly, or indirectly.) And when I am allowing my spirit to get down, I fail miserably at being his encouurager!! =)

I have learned too, that writing to counsel or encourage someone is better. It is easier to keep the focus on things that are "true and lovely"; give positive direct encouragement, and solid Scripture. (You have time to look up that verse that is evading you!)

Something else (I learned the long, hard way!), is when someone does call who needs to talk, I gather my laundry to fold. By the time the half hour phone call is over, they are (hopefully!) encouraged, and I am not DIScouraged, because neat piles of laundry are ready to tuck away!
Dusting, and other simple, "mindless" chores that are not too noisy keep their troubles from bogging us down.
Even doodling; writing out a simple verse, (God is our Refuge and Help) and doodling around it, keeps His Word and the Truth before our eyes.

And, to Joliuse, as I have struggled with depression myself; it is good to talk. But learn to "express pure desires."

If we truly love someone more than ourselves, we don't want to make them depressed or fill them with despair. (I've found it a good way to test myself: Do I want to make them feel bad? And to commiserate with me?)
It's ok to honestly confess, "I've had a hard week, and not very much strength. Could we pray together, that God would give us His peace that passes understanding, and comfort our hearts?"

Then seek out the good. (Lady Lydia's article on "Delight Living" is perfect!)
Find one thing in your week. Share it with someone else. Ask what was good or interesting in their week. It may start a cycle of positive, uplifting conversations!

Search out Scriptures on the love of God, and our position in Christ.
This has made the world of difference for me! You see, subtle half-truths (lies) were coloring my understanding of God; and I couldn't be happpy when I felt so far from Him!
Step by step, He showed me where I WAS wrong, and where I was simply mistaken.

The Lord Jesus Christ is ALL-powerful. He wants to break the chains of bondage and darkness that cause us to struggle and fall. He CAN do it! All we have to do is actively surrender to Him.
When you see it coming, call out to Him! "Run" into your "Strong Tower," and sing a hymn of deliverance to keep your mind on the Truth, that Jesus saves!

This has grown lengthy.
Thank you for your uplifting articles Lady Lydia. When I come here the Lord always uses something to encourage me!

LadyLydia said...

E, and JoLuise, your comments are so true: we are not the only ones available to the chronic complainers or the chronically depressed people. They can get help elsewhere. We always hope we can provide the answer and be the heroes, etc. but like the scripture I posted (Matthew 10:14) you can see that even Christ expects a teacher to move on to more receptive hearts when a person is not improving. He knows it will demoralize the person who is teaching. And also the idea of folding laundry: I wash a lot of dishes by hand when I just want to talk to my mother or my daughter or a friend (people who are not troubled but just need company), so I know you can move about your house and work while talking on the phone.

LadyLydia said...

Tayloress: Email is a good way to counsel someone because you can be interrupted easily by others, and they can easily talk to you as they walk past. I don't like the phone as much and reserve it for my friends when I want to talk to someone nice while doing dishes
email gives you the opportunity to include links and ideas and keep the other person busy learning on their own

LadyLydia said...

As you said, you use up your ability to encourage your husband, when a naysayer or a doom and gloom person gets too much in your thoughts, or their attitudes rub off on you. I am not saying that a woman is so weak that she cannot abide any negative talk, but if you get a chronic complainer in your life, you have to point her in a direction that will get her mind off herself and keep her busy.

LadyLydia said...

...and I think homemakers need to learn not to take on problems outside of their own homes. It can be very destructive to their children and to their marriages. The older homemakers are better for teaching and helping, as they might not have quite so much responsibility at home. The younger ones need to know that they are not required to solve other people's problems, and learn to say "I don't know" when someone asks what they should do, and suggest they call an elder's wife, a preacher, or someone else

LadyLydia said...

Mrs. Santos, that is a great way of returning good to those who are critical of you. I wonder what their attitudes will be once they find that they are reaping benefits and that you were a good steward of the inheritance

Anonymous said...

What if the gloom and doom person is your mother? She doesn't want help, only wants me to hear her anger at everyone. Last week she called me "a little sh..". At 59 years old, I'm so tired of this. Can a person "shake the dust" from a parent?

LadyLydia said...

It might also be a good idea to tell any critical friend that you had to declare your home a worry-free, fear-free zone, "where seldom is heard a discouraging word," because you need to cut down on the doom and gloom in your life. You might not be aware that such attitudes do affect the heart, the blood pressure, the digestion, the sleep, and rob you of youthfulness and hope.

Anonymous said...

Where never is heard a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day.

How apropos!!!

LadyLydia said...

Ask your friend to stop listening to or reading any news broadcasts for a week and see if that decreases her worries and woes.

Anonymous said...

You are right about such people never asking about your family or inquiring how you are doing. They in fact may become very very offended if you call them and unload your problems on them. Try it sometime and notice how you never hear from them again.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post. Thank you. xx

Anonymous said...

I'd like to respond to the anonymous e-mailer who asked about "shaking the dust" from a mother who says hurtful things to her. My mother sometimes says hurtful things too; othertimes she just complains. When I was a young mother she would do it for hours a day over the phone. The children would cry for my attention, but I gave it to my mother, thinking that I was helping her and easing her pain.
I never did, however. She has mental problems that I can't fix. Now I put limits on our conversations. I tell myself that I will listen to her say terrible things about my father or the neighbors for 5 or 10 minutes, then I will say I have to go. Or, if she's in a better mood, I let her talk for longer while I do house work or surf the net. This way, she feels loved and heard, and I feel in control.
As for your mother calling you names, I think that is your cue to say, "I have to go now, Mom."
I hope these observations help.

Anonymous said...

I'm so thankful for your writings.
While I have thought on these things in generalities, never so much, and never in such an organized manner.
I appreciate your attitude, and sharing with everyone a better approach to life.
God bless you richly.


Anonymous said...

I like the idea of using the computer because if someone at home wants to say something, you do not have to put the caller on hold or talk at the same time; nor does the caller hear anything going on in your home. Email is very pleasant and quiet.

For those friends who never seem to get well emotionally, and never seem to be happy, there is a weekly magazine you once recommended, a feel-good publication with all kinds of happiness, and never a discouraging word, including a story in the back, which is usually some kind of success. I like it because it has the color pink in it often and usually has flowers, good food recipes, herbal treatments for the mood, jokes, and plenty of things to think about.


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