Surrounding yourself with supportive people is one of the most important aspects of being healthy and happy. Inevitably, however, you will be faced with various people who belittle your life choices and put you down.
You may be perfectly content with your life, but there’ll always be someone telling you to do more, be better, and push yourself further.
These shallow types know little of the inner peace and tranquillity that comes from being thankful for what you already have. Instead, they scorn those they see as “settling” in life.
Here are 5 handy tips to help you keep your cool and deal with their negativity…
1. Find An Outlet
First things first, you need to learn how to deal with negativity and stress, as you’re bound to experience it at various stages of your life.
Having a creative outlet for your tension can be so helpful – journal, work out, or take up ceramics… whatever works for you!
However happy you are with your choices, there’ll be someone lurking in the shadows, ready to put you down. This can be so frustrating and we often let these feelings simmer away for too long.
Finding a way to vent these negative feelings, rather letting them eventually bubble over, is so important for your well-being.
Get into the habit of doing things that make you feel good, both mentally and physically.
Having these hobbies sets you up really well in life in general, and can also be a really positive coping mechanism should you ever fall on hard times.
You may not be able to yell at certain people for putting you down, but you can let out all your rage on a punch-bag at the gym.
It can be exhausting when other people are constantly questioning your decisions and being overly-critical, and can often lead to a bit of an identity crisis.
This is totally normal, don’t panic! However comfortable you are with your choices, having them repeatedly questioned will inevitably make you question them yourself.
Make a list of things you love about your life, whether that’s being single and independent (not lonely and unloved!), self-employed and your own boss (not lazy!), or a stay-at-home parent (not someone who’s given up!).
Shallow people will choose to see the negative side of certain aspects of your life, and it’s up to you to stay positive.
Having a handy list of things you appreciate about your lifestyle will make it much easier to handle other people’s criticism.
You don’t need to justify your choices to anyone, but the type of people who belittle you will also leave you alone once they realize they’re fighting a losing battle.
The more certain you seem about what you’re doing, the less likely they are to carry on criticizing it.
3. Let Go
Remember how comfortable and satisfied you are (or how hard you’re working to improve your life if you’re not 100% content) and let go of other people’s negative opinions.
This can be a real challenge at times, of course, but part of living your best life is not getting bogged down by other people’s opinions of you.
It may seem impossible, especially if the person who is criticizing you is someone you see all the time. If it’s your boss or a colleague, organize a one-on-one and set some clear boundaries for appropriate behavior, and then move on.
You don’t need to be on the receiving end of so much negativity, and it will end up making you miserable and stressed. Do your best not to get sucked into a manipulative situation, as this can only end badly.
Now is the best time to let go of negativity and move on. While other people will always have an opinion on what you’re doing with your life – be it a family member or someone from work – it really is none of their business unless it’s affecting them.
Your choice to have children, or not have children, travel, or start your own business is something that you are choosing to do with your life, and does not need to be judged or put down by other people.
Let go of the negativity around you and accept that some people will always be a little bit jealous, resentful, or downright rude!
This might sound a bit strange, given that having people belittle your life choices can feel like a very personal attack!
It is important to realize that other people’s opinions of you are often actually a reflection of how they feel about themselves.
The people who are being so critical of your life are probably unhappy with their own lives, so this is likely to be a reflection (or psychologically speaking, a projection) of their own uncertainty.
They may even be resentful of your lifestyle, and choose to criticize it rather than accept that they are not happy with their own life.
Let go of what no longer serves you, and do your best to move on from people who seem intent on making you feel bad just for the sake of it.
Being empathetic in these situations can be really tough, especially when you’ve been poked and prodded towards breaking point!
Try to come up with some fair responses in advance so that you’re a bit more prepared – it can be easy to lash out when you’re being provoked.
Have something kind to say and do your best to help the individual if it becomes clear that there is something going on behind their attacks.
It’s hard work, but be the bigger person and have compassion for those around you.
If the people who are being so critical of your life are close to you, it may be worth taking what they say on board. If you feel that these people genuinely have your best interests at heart, they may just be expressing valid concern.
The important thing is that you are happy with your life, and with the choices you make.
If you think that someone close to you is trying to be constructive with their criticism, make a note of it, make sure they understand that they may be making you feel bad in the way that they express their concern, and take time to reflect.
Different perspectives can be helpful – you don’t need validation or approval from others, but it’s worth taking other opinions into account when you trust that they are not saying things through spite.
Make sure the people talking to you understand that what they are saying may come across in a negative way, and that you are keen to avoid any toxicity or conflict.
Having a close friend or family member playing devil’s advocate with you can be a great way to actually bounce ideas around and may have a really positive outcome.
Whatever choices you’ve made, or are making, are yours. While compassion and care are really important aspects of your personality, you also need to be selfish when necessary.
Learn to make your own decisions and be satisfied with them, or actively work toward a better situation for yourself.
Some people will always find a way to put you down and make you feel bad about the way you live your life. This is none of their business (unless you’re doing something horrendously offensive!) and they have no right to make you feel inadequate or foolish.
No matter how laid back and relaxed you are, or how content with your life you might be, it’s hard not to get riled up at times.
Shallow people will often do their best to keep poking at you and winding you up, often in the hope of getting a big reaction from you.
Don’t get angry at yourself if this does happen, you’re only human, after all, but try to have some mechanisms in place to deal with these situations.
Lucy is a travel and wellness writer currently based in Gili Air, a tiny Indonesian island. After over a year of traveling, she’s settled in paradise and spends her days wandering around barefoot, practicing yoga and exploring new ways to work on her wellbeing.