Avoid Negative People. They Are Confidence Killers

I did a talk a couple of weeks ago on one of my favorite subjects — self confidence, an important ingredient for your life and career success.  In the talk, I made three important points about how to become more self confident: 1) Choose to be optimistic; 2) Hang around with positive people, and avoid negative ones; and 3) Fave your fears and act.

The the other day, the Savage Chickens cartoon below popped up in my inbox.

Doug Savage, the guy who writes and draws the Savage Chickens cartoons, often makes some pretty good points about life and working.  I begin most days by looking at his cartoons.

In this one, he managed to hit on two of my points about self confidence: Be optimistic and avoid negative people (and chickens).  They’ll bring you down and hurt your confidence. Instead, hang around with positive people.

Let’s take a look at the difference between positive optimistic people and negative pessimistic people.

  • Positive, optimistic people tend to see problems, failures and setbacks as temporary.
  • Negative, pessimistic people tend to see problems, failures and setbacks as permanent – almost their destiny.
  • Positive, optimistic people see problems, failures and setbacks as isolated occurrences.
  • Negative, pessimistic people see problems, failures and setbacks as omnipresent – things from which you can’t escape.
  • Positive, optimistic people don’t take problems, failures and setbacks personally.
  • Negative, pessimistic people personalize problems, failures and setbacks.

If you read this blog with any regularity, you know that I am an incurable optimist.  I see problems, failures and setbacks not only as temporary, but as opportunities to learn and grow.  I expect things to go well.  When I run into problems, failures and setbacks, I’m always a little surprised because I don’t expect them.  I do, however, plan for them.  Finally, I never take a problem, failure or setback personally.  I’m a human being.  Sometimes I make great decisions.  Sometimes I make poor ones.  My self-worth is not threatened by the occasional problem, failure or setback.

And, I choose to hang around with positive, not negative people.

I’m a big fan of Mark Twain.  One of my favorite quotes of his gets at the heart of surrounding yourself with positive people and jettisoning the negative people in your life…

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions.  Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

Negative people are a drag on your goals and your ambitions.  They are quick to tell you what you can’t do, offer little encouragement, and hate to see you prove them wrong by succeeding.  Hold these kinds of people at arm’s length.  Don’t spend time with them.  Instead, invest in friendships with positive, upbeat people; the kind of people who not only don’t belittle your ambitions, but do what they can to help you make them a reality.

Cynics are negative people.  They are also dangerous, because they are seductive.  They always have something witty to say about others – usually others’ shortcomings.  At first, they seem to be funny and amusing.  But spend time with cynics, and you’ll find that they have little joy in life except in pointing out and reveling in others’ problems and failures.

Ambrose Bierce may well be the world’s biggest cynic.  I often see quotes attributed to him online.  In the early 20th century, he published a book called The Devil’s Dictionary.  Even I admit that some of his definitions are pretty funny.  However, I get tired and frustrated after reading more than one or two.  Here are a couple of quotes from The Devil’s Dictionary

“Optimism:  The doctrine that everything is beautiful, including what is ugly, everything good, especially the bad, and everything right that is wrong… It is hereditary, but fortunately not contagious.”

“Calamities: Two kinds – misfortunes to ourselves, and good fortune to others.”

No wonder ole’ Ambrose was called “Bitter Bierce” by his contemporaries.  First, he bashes optimism, then he suggests that human beings see the good fortune of others as a personal calamity.

Here are a couple of other entries in The Devil’s Dictionary

“Politeness: The most acceptable hypocrisy.”

“Perseverance: A lowly virtue whereby mediocrity achieves an inglorious success.”

Do you know any people like Ambrose Bierce?  If you do, my best life and career success advice is to hold them at arm’s length.  While you may find them to be witty and entertaining at first, they will drag you down in the long run.  They will not help you create the life and career success you want and deserve.

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