One of the best pieces of advice I have ever been given about leading a positive and inspiring life is to take yourself away from negative people and situations. Our environment and the people we spend our time with have a huge impact on our happiness and success. For the most part we can control those factors even when it’s difficult. People quit jobs and end friendships all the time because they’re mentally, emotionally and spiritually draining. It doesn’t mean to say that these are easy choices, but the benefits are felt immediately.

The problem arises when the person spilling their negativity all over you is someone really close, like a family member. Every time you see or speak to them it’s like walking on eggshells, you have no idea what kind of mood they’re gonna be in or what abuse you’re gonna receive just for existing! You ask yourself, “Wow, does this person actually like me?” because it sure doesn’t seem like it. You get little jabs here and snide remarks there, you get eye-rolls and huffs whenever you say anything. Sometimes you get full on yelled at and you have no idea where it came from. Then you decide to leave or not see them so often and guess what, they get mad about that too.

What do you do then? You don’t want to cut them out of your life because even though they’re a massive stress-head you still love them, and there are other people to consider when it’s family. You decide to just let it slide and keep the peace, but you find yourself getting more and more frustrated and resentful towards them. This is not the kind of relationship you want to have, it’s no fun at all. But still, the idea of confronting them scares the crap out of you because if they’re that intense when it’s just hanging out on a Sunday afternoon, what circle of hell is going to be unleashed when you try to confront them?

Here’s the thing–yes, they obviously have something going on inside of them that is the reason for their behavior and they are the ones who need to work that out. Usually when someone lashes out at you it’s not actually about you, they’re projecting some stuff that they’re unhappy with in their own life onto you. But, in their unhappiness and stress they don’t realize that this behavior is making you question your entire relationship with them. If they knew that they would most probably be devastated.

It is our responsibility to ourselves to be honest and authentic in all areas of our lives, even if that makes someone else angry or sad. We have to take full ownership of our side of the street and it doesn’t serve us or the other person if we quietly take on their crap for the sake of an easy life. How are they ever going to know how you feel if you never tell them. You’re both just gonna carry on in the same pattern indefinitely. Give them the opportunity to know how you feel and to be a better brother or sister or father, etc.

It is important not to place blame or be on the attack, say something like, “When you say or do this, I feel like this.” or, “When this happens I feel….” rather than, “You make me feel….” or, “You’re being…..” It’s a subtle but important change in language that helps lower the defenses. It’s also beneficial to start by saying calmly, something like, “I just wanted to talk to you about our conversation the other day, would you mind just listening to my feelings about it?” This helps to stop the immediate verbal reaction from them when you are trying to express yourself.

It’s never going to be an easy decision to confront the situation, but when you stand in your power and approach situations authentically and with love you will feel better, stronger and more confident than ever. And don’t stress about their reaction because you can’t control that, all you can do is be true to you and in doing so inspire them to do the same. If they’re not ready to take it on board thats up to them, but at least now they know how you feel. Nothing will have the chance to change if you do nothing. Either way, this is your chance to take control because people will only treat us the way we allow them to. Take a stand for the positive and inspiring life you want to lead because no one else is going to do it for you. 

This post was originally published on The Fierce Flamingo.