As a doctor, I have been a supporter of social distancing from the very beginning. But I have also found that personally, the pandemic has made me realize that I want to create even more than six feet of distance from negative people who blame, judge, dismiss, and take more than they give to others. 

I feel like the distance from toxic people not only protects me from an airborne virus, but also from their negativity. I’ve started to identify the reasons why I need to distance myself from them and want to share them with you. I’d suggest steering clear of anyone with these qualities. 

Non-stop blamers

I’m sure we all have been around people who have the ability to put the blame for everything that goes wrong in their life on others. I know I have, and I seem to attract people who not only blame others, but me as well. If you have gone through this yourself you know how exhausting it can be!

Blame is an excellent defense mechanism that helps you save face and preserve your sense of self-esteem. You stop taking responsibility for your flaws and shortcomings. According to science, deflecting and blame-shifting is a major coping mechanism for some. What I’ve noticed is that the more I’m around people who are constant blamers, the more I find myself blaming others, too. 

Constant takers and occasional givers

Growing up in a big family with eight brothers and sisters, I learned long ago the importance of being a giver. My mother and father were the ultimate givers. They always reminded us to give more than we take. This is a life lesson that has always stuck with me. As an adult, I am very much a giver, and unfortunately that has led to attracting others who are takers. As a doctor, it is in my nature to serve, and I’ll do anything I can to help my patients get healthy. Giving makes me feel good! But when I am around people who only seem to care about what they can get from a relationship and put their contributions second, it pushes my buttons. 

Think about your friends and family who you spend the most time with. Do you know people who constantly take more than they give? People who are the first to ask for help, but last to offer a hand? You may not realize at first, because you may be used to their behaviors, chalking it up to who they are. But you have to ask yourself how long you are willing to put up with a one-sided relationship without genuine concern and kindness. If it is a family member, spouse, or child with an uneven balance of give and take, you might bring it up in private so you can resolve the imbalance in the relationship. 

Perpetually judgmental

Have you been around people who appear embarrassed by your struggles and mistakes? There is no denying that we all have little voices in our heads that judge people and situations almost instantly. It is human nature to judge others. But when you take these thoughts, and vocalize them into constant criticism, it can burn relationships. 

I find that the same people who are quick to judge others are the same people who try to undermine people’s successes. These are the individuals who remind you of your shortcomings, doubt your abilities, and take advantage of you. Is it any wonder why I want to distance myself from people who take pleasure from judging others? Be cautious when you vocalize a judgment about someone else—sometimes it’s better to stay silent and support the other person no matter what you think.

Looking at life as a glass half empty

Have you met those who never fail to uninspire you? I’m sure you have. Hopefully you protect yourself and keep them at a distance. I learned that the best thing I can do for myself is to recognize my own pattern of glass-half-empty thinking. When I feel at my worst, it’s easier to gravitate towards others who have a negative outlook on life. During this pandemic, like millions of people, I have felt lost, lonely, sad, and even depressed at times. When you see your glass as half empty, you need people with a full cup to cheer you up, not people who are miserable.

In my experience, I’ve learned that taking responsibility for my own negative thoughts is the first step to seeing positive things happen around me. And that’s why I decided to take the leap and pursue my passion in being a speaker who talks to audiences about how they can make simple, positive choices in how they eat, exercise, and engage with others to find more success. I know that looking at life in a positive light is easier said than done, but it is important for your mental health and overall happiness. 

So distance yourself from other half-glass-empty people and don’t forget to distance yourself from your negative thoughts as well. There are many inspiring people in this world who shine as bright spots in these challenging times. You just have to look for them and fill your glass to the brim!

Relentless naysayers 

Have you been around people who are jumping to say ‘no’ to you before you even finish your sentence? Or have you had to associate with those who are abrasive towards your ideas and contributions? I have, and it can be draining. These people accentuate your fears and drain your energy. It is these naysayers who will lay out all kinds of obstacles in your path. 

So what do you do around these people? There are two things you can do. You can use it as an opportunity for growth and remind yourself that you define what you can and can’t do. When you follow your dreams with dedication and commitment, the worst naysayers can’t stop you. When someone discourages you or shuts down your idea right away, don’t let them lower your confidence. 

TEDx speaker ML Brookshire shares how you can be a winner regardless of your circumstances, disappointments, and past. She shares that you have limitless possibilities. And this belief supersedes any naysayers who may try to hold you back. I’m committed to drown out the naysayers with positivity and I encourage you to do the same! 

Those who are pointedly dismissive

Have you met those who are most delighted watching you drown in your own thoughts and fears? I sure have, and I bet you have too. You know the people. Those people who give you a lukewarm response after you share exciting news with them. Those who scan the radio station channels, never happy with any of the selections. Those who themselves have something awesome happen in their lives, but don’t even share with you. Dismissiveness comes in many forms, and can be so subtle that it’s often hard to put your finger on. 

We are all dismissive to some degree, as it’s part of being human in a world full of noise and constant news. It’s impossible to be super excited about everything. But be careful to not turn into someone who is pointedly and constantly dismissive. If you do, you will drain the energy and positivity from people who you actually care about, and might not even know why they distance themselves from you. Instead of being dismissive, try to find places to be supportive, encouraging, and uplifting. Do that and you will attract people, rather than push them away.  

In conclusion

As I look at 2021 and beyond, I will distance myself from people who bring me down. Now is a great time to evaluate your own qualities and traits that might make people want to distance themselves from you. It’s not always easy to recognize our own bad behaviors, but it is worth its weight in gold. Try to be aware of your own passive aggressive behaviors, sarcasm, belittling, judgmental comments, dismissiveness, and other things that might push people away. 

Can you think of other qualities, traits, or behaviors that make you want to run from the types of people I haven’t mentioned? What are you doing to build healthy relationships? Please share in the comments, and let’s have a conversation about them on Twitter