While hanging out on the web the other day I found a very interesting blog post in what has quickly become one of my favorite places to visit. The post is about angry people and the negative effects that they have on you and your brain. It’s titled “Angry/negative people can be bad for your brain” and you can read it here (highly recommended reading material). The author, Kathy Sierra, talks about the power of attitudes, emotions, and thoughts to transmit themselves from one person to another. One paragraph that struck home for me:
But the effect of our innate ability and need to imitate goes way past teenage phone tricks. Spend time with a nervous, anxious person and physiological monitoring would most likely show you mimicking the anxiety and nervousness, in ways that affect your brain and body in a concrete, measurable way. Find yourself in a room full of pissed off people and feel the smile slide right off your face. Listen to people complaining endlessly about work, and you’ll find yourself starting to do the same. How many of us have been horrified to suddenly realize that we’ve spent the last half-hour caught up in a gossip session–despite our strong aversion to gossip? The behavior of others we’re around is nearly irresistible.
I found this interesting because I made a conscious effort a few months ago to steer clear of negative critical people who always seem ready to criticize and put others down, and complain about anything and everything, whether warranted or not. I have always been a very positive upbeat person, but many times, depending on who I am hanging out with, I find myself sliding into negativity and critical speech and attitudes. Later, when I am alone, I wonder why I behaved the way I did. I joke a lot that Nursing School has done this to me, but I know a big component of it is hanging around people who moan and groan and complain about the slightest things, and are always angry at someone or something.
Kathy lays it all out in a very candid and thought-provoking way.
Another quote that struck home:
Can any of us honestly say we haven’t experienced emotional contagion? Even if we ourselves haven’t felt our energy drain from being around a perpetually negative person, we’ve watched it happen to someone we care about. We’ve noticed a change in ourselves or our loved ones based on who we/they spend time with. We’ve all known at least one person who really did seem able to “light up the room with their smile,” or another who could “kill the mood” without saying a word. We’ve all found ourselves drawn to some people and not others, based on how we felt around them, in ways we weren’t able to articulate.
This reminded me of something my Psych Nursing instructor said to us last semester: “People may not remember what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.”
I could go on and on quoting from wonderful post, but I highly recommend you read it for yourself. It’s a long read, but it’s well worth it!!
You can access Kathy Sierra’s blog post about angry people here.
Mary [Visitor] says
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.
Negative people do have an effect on all of us.
I remember when I was in my early to mid-twenties I made a very conscious decision to keep my head in place regardless of who I was around. I was able to rearrange and organize where I stored the information that my brain was taking in and use it at the appropriate time. I was also able to stay positive in the moment while I was rearranging the information.
It’s not as easy anymore.
Like you, I say “teaching” has done it to me …. being around too many people doing things for the “wrong reasons.” I also say growing up: owning a house and a car and having debts to pay has done it to me… but whatever reason “has done it to me” is irrelevant.
Everyday I continue struggling to stay positive, to laugh, to create positive energy and positive change in my world. Thanks to you and all of my friends I am more and more successful everyday.
mary [Member] says
It really is all about who you surround yourself with, who you allow into your circle of influence, or what some people call the “sphere of intimacy.” The influence of that circle intensifies as the radius decreases, and so your colleagues might be on the outer rings of that sphere, your friends a little closer in, your family even closer (although sometimes your family is farther out than your friends), and your significant other, or your closest friend(s) in the innermost ring. You must guard this sphere fiercely, because that’s a big determinant to the health of your soul.
PS: In case you’re a visitor to my life and wondering… no, I’m NOT talking to myself. Mary and mary are two distinct people… maybe I’ll post about that.