Does someone's negative attitude ruin your mood often? You can do something about it but it may not be what you think. Let's look at an example and see how it works.
John’s wife sometimes gets grumpy,
and her bad mood makes him unhappy. He thinks she shouldn't be in a bad
mood so often. She “allows herself” to be irritated by things that are
really no big deal.
A few times John has been angry enough to tell Darleen to quit being such a negative person, but it didn’t go well.
What can he do? How can John change Darleen’s attitude? If he did, John is sure he would be happier.
is a fairly common situation, but there is an inherent flaw in the
whole thing. Let's think about this for a second. Something is happening
that puts Darleen in a bad mood. Darleen’s bad mood puts John in a bad
mood. Darleen would like the circumstances to change so she isn’t in a
bad mood. John would like Darleen to change so he is not in a bad mood.
other words, John is doing exactly what Darleen is doing, and then he
is self-righteously condemning her for what they are both doing.
John can’t get himself into a better mood regardless of what Darleen is
doing, what right does he have to ask Darleen to do so? And if John can
get himself into a good mood regardless of what Darleen is doing, he no
longer needs Darleen to change her mood to suit him.
way, if you find yourself in the same position as John, you need only
to focus on one thing: Improve your own mood regardless of what the
other person is doing.
If you can do that, you won’t need to change the other person. At that point, however, you would be
in a position to help the other person by telling her what you’ve done
that works. And your showing and telling wouldn’t be done in
self-righteous anger or impatience. It would only be done out of caring
because you no longer need her to change. You no longer have any urgency
or a demanding demeanor. And you also understand how challenging it can
be. That will make your suggestions much easier to accept.
you’re in a position where whether she accepts your help or not, you’re
okay either way because you know how to improve your own mood
regardless of what she does.
Adam Khan is the author of Slotralogy and co-author with Klassy Evans of What Difference Does It Make?: How the Sexes Differ and What You Can Do About It. Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.