Is It Time to Walk Away from the Negative People in Your Life?

Is it Time to Walk Away From the Negative People in Your Life?

As we progress through life we come to learn that not everyone shares our views, tastes and outlook on life. And indeed, this past 2 years has seen people's frustrations, anger and intolerance levels escalate, about even the smallest things.

Road rage, annoyance at other people's lifestyle choices, irritations & frustrations seem to be bubbling close to the surface in some people. How do we protect ourselves when so much negative emotion and judgement may be encroaching into our world?

At vulnerable times it's important to be vigilant about good self-care. Healthy living, good food choices, fresh air, exercise, speaking to positive friends, enough sleep, a little laughter; all are ways to detach a little if you're starting to feel overwhelmed by other people's stuff!

Where might we experience negative people?

Trolling is where people post rude, hurtful or offensive comments, often anonymously, on social media. It’s being taken more seriously by these platforms, with trolls often being sanctioned and deleted. We, too, can protect ourselves online by blocking trolls, reacting quickly to report offensive comments and by maybe limiting access to our social media posts.

Work colleagues may appear to have an issue with us, causing a tense, uneasy atmosphere. Could it be that they suspect we’ve received special treatment or that we’re responsible for any of their missed opportunities?

It’s important to detach a little from these situations and not feel guilty or compelled to justify or constantly explain ourselves. Otherwise this might escalate into bullying or harassment. If negative treatment and remarks become a regular pattern commit to keeping a log with dates, times and details of what’s happened. This helps you feel more in control, plus gives an evidence-based record if things get too bad and you need to speak with management or HR.      

Close relationships and family. There are many sad stories of relationships breaking down and families being pulled apart because of decisions and lifestyle choices made throughout the pandemic. Heightened tensions means that both sides are often firmly entrenched, fully convinced that their views are correct and that others are wrong, immoral, unethical and perhaps even criminal.  

This situation has been stressful for everyone. No one has been unaffected by it. The ongoing social, financial, emotional and health-related impact has meant, that with new information coming out almost daily, old routines and security have been replaced by stress and uncertainty. Daily life, for many, entails taking it one day at a time. It’s not easy.

Be patient, tolerant and remember that the people closest to you are essentially good. Arguing your point, trying to bully or coerce others into doing what you think is best is unfair in any situation, but especially after a fraught, disruptive two years.

Agree to accept that we’ve all tried to make the best decisions for ourselves and those closest to us. Live and let live rather than become preoccupied with what we feel others should or ought to be doing. It’s time to focus on the positives and rebuild our relationships.          

Random people in our social circle may at times feel that it’s acceptable to make negative or unpleasant comments about us. That can be disappointing, when they’re people we like, see reasonably often, but are not inner-circle friends. Our paths may cross fairly frequently but those relationships have occurred through other connections.

It can be disconcerting to be made aware of their comments or opinions of us. Do we stop socialising with the group because of this unpleasantness or might we be making too much of it? It’s possible to doubt ourselves when something like this happens, but should this culminate in us limiting our social life and restricting our freedom?

First ensure that your closest social relationships are solid and then avoid turning any comments into a big deal by limiting who you discuss them with. Cherry-pick the outings you go on until sufficient time has passed for it all to blow over.      

What about neighbours or even strangers, people we perhaps know only slightly or not at all? If they feel inclined to make nasty, disparaging comments or throw dirty looks our way, why not try a cheery smile or oblivious, ‘hello, what a lovely day!’. That can sometimes be enough to throw them off-guard and defuse any tension. It’s unlikely they were expecting that response and by ‘not noticing them’, by refusing to react to their behaviour it loses any power, so wasting their time. Your unexpectedly pleasant response may force them to reflect on their behaviour and subsequently stop.   

Ways to walk away from negative people;

Sometimes it’s possible to ignore hurtful comments by simply refusing to listen, be aware or notice what’s being said or done. Or we can ‘act thick’ and behave as if no sarcastic or biting undertones are coming our way, pretending instead to hear only positive or non-confrontational remarks. Doing this removes the power from the other person.

Detaching can result in the option to walk away from difficult or unpleasant situations, but that isn’t the most productive way to live and isn’t always a viable option. Having therapy, coaching or language classes to improve thinking and communication skills can help in overcoming doubt and hesitancy, resulting in a fuller, more successful life.

A mediator can help, if a situation needs outside input to be resolved. A third party can act effectively as referee, allowing both parties to have their say, keeping discussions relevant and respectful, whilst steering towards viable, positive outcomes.  We may choose to hire a trained professional mediator, a relationship counsellor or spiritual adviser or even ‘book’ a respected family friend or neighbour; someone who’s perceived as neutral, respectful and able to keep order. 

Learning how to communicate regularly and effectively is an important skill, valuable in keeping relationships healthy and nurtured. Remaining quiet due to fear of confrontation, laziness or lack of confidence may result in relationships becoming out of balance, which can eventually fester and keep us in relationships with negative people. Is now the time to reflect and walk away from those negative relationships?


Susan Leigh, Altrincham, Cheshire, South Manchester counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.

She's author of 4 books, 'Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact', '101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday', 'Your Divorce Handbook, It's What You Do Next that Counts' and 'Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain', all on Amazon & with easy to read sections, tips and ideas to help you feel more positive about your life.

To order a copy or for more information, help and free articles visit