Coping strategies for when someone really is being negative


#1

Hi, I’m actually on session 6 and really starting to feel the benefits of the therapy, but I do wonder if there are coping strategies for when someone really is being repeatedly rude and it’s someone you cannot avoid. The strategies for dealing with ANTs for irrational thoughts have been very helpful, but I’m talking about, when thinking rationally, you realize someone is being rude and putting you down, how do you stay positive and not let that bring you down and ramp up your anxiety? I feel this therapy is wonderful for social anxiety and all the irrational thoughts that we bring onto ourselves, but what about the real world, where you really do have to deal with hurtful people?


#2

The nature of this program, and how it must be in order to effectively lead you towards progress, is a step by step process. Retraining the brain - a learning therapy. You heard this in the session 1 audio. We can hear and understand certain concepts, but we need time, repetition, and reinforcement to “learn” these things into feelings and beliefs.

Okay, so that you already know. I say this because we can’t slice and dice this up so that we go to just one session or one concept to help you with one XYZ situation. And, I feel that you understand this too. You are not saying otherwise. My points are for all reading this. Every part of the series is also going to be a part of the solution to being more confident, calmer, rational with yourself. We’ve got to build all the foundation up so that you are able to effectively deal with a negative person, a bully, when you need to, in the right way.

So, I would answer that all of what you’re doing is helping in some way, and can’t be skipped. And later, there are specific session materials on assertion, in session 18. There’s a discussion of attitudes in session 5, acceptance starting in session 8, the Deserving Statements in 17, and multiple handouts on being assertive in the right way in session 18. After 18 there are peace zone themes, used to become stronger in these beliefs.

Let’s imagine a person being very negative. Let’s say they are at work. You have multiple things to consider rationally. Who is the person? Are they a subordinate, a boss, an “equal”? Are there channels to go through formally to handle disputes? Is this handled better on a 1-1 basis? All of those things only you will know from the situation. Let’s consider a negative friend, family member, or a stranger that is being a bully. Each situation has a different set of circumstances to consider. What doesn’t change is that you have the right to stand up for yourself in a calm, confident way. Actually you have the right to go crazy too, but that may not be how you want to stand up for yourself, especially in a work situation.

You do not have to, nor should you have to be a doormat for another person. You should not bear the brunt of some undue negativity, criticism. It is your right, and is a healthy way to go by NOT allowing that. We must believe that, and it helps us when we use all that we are learning in the therapy to stay rational, to stay calm when doing so. Believing in this process comes out of the therapy as a whole, and then yes, there is a more specific discussion in session 18.

You know by now that life is not fair. And, there are people out there who are bullies, who are negative. So, it falls to each of us to make these decisions in life - to stand up for ourselves when necessary, to say no, to say we don’t appreciate or deserve such treatment. Learning to do that and to be okay with that - this is a life skill for anyone. I for one do not want to spend my time around rude, negative people. I sometimes have to make a conscious decision to disassociate myself. I sometimes have had to say no, to disagree. I can do that better now by applying the beliefs I’ve gained from the therapy, and then exercising them (putting them into practice). This doesn’t mean I love confrontation. Most people don’t. But, I can stand up for myself now, voice opinions without obsessive post-game review, and I’m confident that I should do that for my own health and well-being.

Each situation comes with its own set of particulars. There is no right answer. But there is one truth to it all - you have the right to be true to yourself. You have the right, and should, stand up for yourself and your health. That should be your priority. It’s not selfish or rude, either. Each and every person should be doing that for their own benefit and for those around them.


#3

Mateo,

Thank you sooo much for your detailed, kind response. I think your response will be very helpful to others, as well. You’re right, I do understand that it’s a step by step process, and I even notice that, although I am feeling upset by how I’ve been treated by a particular person, my anxiety level isn’t even close to what it would’ve been before I started this program. I’ve basically been using the distraction methods used for ANTs to help me not get too upset. I guess it’s more when I think about having to have a confrontation, I just want to handle it in the best way possible, and I haven’t had this situation come up until now. I know I will be able to handle it and move on, but definitely won’t be easy. I’m SO happy to hear this is talked about in future sessions!


#4

Hi Faith1,

Sounds good. I’m with you - these things aren’t easy. Self-acceptance, confidence, assertiveness, setting healthy boundaries, negotiating relationships, being more proactive about making decisions and avoiding procrastination… these are ALL issues that we have as a result of social anxiety. Mind you, these are issues that people without social anxiety deal with also. They’re big issues in life, right? I try to keep that in perspective.

But here, in this community, we all know how worse it can be. Another person might identify with being quiet or a little shy, and you and I know that is not the same as social anxiety disorder. Other people might understand wanting to do better in a workplace (be it relationships with the boss or presentation skills) or perhaps a person may understand that some people are harder to work with than others. BUT, what might not be obvious to someone without social anxiety is the depth which each one of these on their own can go to. That person may not have to first build a foundation of simply stopping ANTs. That person may fundamentally believe in their worth as a living being, whereas, if we are to be honest, many suffering with social anxiety may not have that foundation of rational beliefs due to a long history of putting oneself down or some sort of abuse, etc.

These are serious issues which deserve to be addressed by the series, and through therapy. I don’t want to splinter overcoming anxiety into 1,000 problems, as we have said often before. The solution is getting at social anxiety, not 1,000 problems. There is a bleed-over effect. I know that to be true from my experience. But, yes, we may need to spend time focusing on the whole of the therapy, for sure, and then parts such as this - reinforcing our right to stand up for ourselves, allowing ourselves to let go of negative past events in the right way, also - just to take a few examples.

You are right to be using distractions now - if that’s what you got, use it. The therapy, again, shows the progression. You don’t jump to accepting what might be rational but beyond your sense of reality, at first. Nope. At first we just used Slow Talk, if you remember. Then we stopped ANTs and used distractions. In none of that did we start going “positive”, if you allow me that word. And we keep building from there.

I’m beyond the worst of my social anxiety days. I can easily let myself get angry if I choose to dwell on something. I could perhaps get into blaming others, but I feel I worked through that in a way that allows me to go on. A distraction is fine - not a bad thing at all, especially if the choice is to not think about it or to think only about it all the time. That’s no solution. But beyond a distraction, too, I have dealt with it and feel rational about it. Still, I’m human and when I’m placed in situations that used to be very unhealthy for me, situations which still exist in my life for natural reasons, I can have negative emotions. Those are what you would expect. How I react is more under my control now. In the case that you first wrote about here, I can stand up for myself when I need to. I can’t necessarily change other people, but I can handle myself. With that, too, perhaps that other person changes the way they deal with you, but it’s not always true that I can affect that change in that person. It’s not my job to do so.

If you’ve noticed, there are different themes/statements throughout the therapy, different sessions. The commonality is rationality. You can apply that rationality to any/all moments in your life, challenges you face. Take those statements and make them your own, apply them to your life.

Continue to build that confidence and healthy perspective you should have and deserve to have about yourself. You being able to remain calmer in a situation is already likely miles ahead of anyone who hasn’t practiced such exercises. There is probably no “best way” to handle a confrontation - there are many ways, and many can be okay, even good. You’re right - it won’t be easy. Let yourself get there though. Let yourself continue making progress and don’t be too mad at yourself. You’re allowed to be not perfect. You’re allowed to learn, to get better at these types of things, just like other things we learn in life.