This is a special guest post from fellow personal finance blogger Andrew Daniels. Andrew blogs over at Family Money Plan, where he writes about how he paid off his $320,000 mortgage in 6 years and is now focused on finding financial freedom. If this article resonates with you, I invite you to sign up for his newsletter. You’ll get a free copy of his ebook Money Guiding Principles for a Happier Life, which will help you along in your money journey. He’s also on on Twitter and Facebook if you want to connect with Andrew there too! – Jessica Moorhouse
Money is one of those tricky things in life. We all have it. We all need it. We all use it. However, when it comes to talking about it…well, we don’t all want to talk about it (at least not in the same way).
Often when we get talking about money, the conversation can break down pretty quickly. People’s lack of confidence in their situation or their fear of looking foolish or selfish can break down a positive, productive conversation very quickly.
In my experience, there are 3 main groups of negative money people. As a general rule I avoid them, but when I can’t this is how I handle them.
The Pity Party (a.k.a. The Justifiers)
This group loves to gather around and talk about how bad they have it. Each of them will take turns waiting for the next person to finish whining so that they can have their turn and gain some sympathy.
Often these people just want your pity. It’s a familiar song they all sing: “Wah! Wah! Poor me.” That may sound harsh, but it sure does seem that way from an outsider’s view.
Here’s the Deal
When you’re looking for pity, you’re trying to justify your own situation to others. Other people give you sympathy and you feel better about yourself and your situation. The longer you do this, the more you get trapped into this way of thinking. It’s a vicious cycle.
If you hang out with people like this for too long, it’s very easy to get sucked in and start thinking just like them.
The trouble with this is you start to enjoy the attention from other people. Their sympathy can actually stop you from trying to better yourself, because you risk losing their sympathy if you start achieving any success.
Hey, we all have problems. What matters is how you handle them — both mentally and externally (like talking with friends).
You’re way better off to focus on whatever is positive and working for you than to dwell on the negative.
How to Handle the Pity Party
This group is pretty straight forward — they want you to feel sorry for them. Don’t give in to them. Instead, point out what’s working for them. Straight out ask them what is going well for them, or what is positive in their life. They won’t know how to handle it.
Most of the time they will go back to singing the chorus of “Oh, poor me.” Stay positive and keep at it.
Remember, positive and negative can’t occupy the same space in your mind — one will get forced out. The continual focus on the positive side will drive your friends to stop seeking pity from you (or they will just stop calling you to hang out all together).
Either way, it’s a win for you!
The Blaming Other People Association (a.k.a. The Blamers)
This group blames everyone else for their woes. It’s the fault of the 1% that they don’t have a good job, don’t have enough money or can’t make more of it.
This group would way rather blame everyone else for their misgivings and their setbacks — with the rich taking the brunt of the hate and blame.
This is a habit (yes, blaming can become a habit) that you may have seen in others or maybe even see in yourself. These people are so focused on blaming others that they never assume responsibility or take control of their own lives.
Here’s the Deal
If you blame and hate the rich, it will be hard for you to try and become one of them. After all, why would you want to be part of a group (rich people) that you hate?
Also, if you’re blaming other people for your bad luck, how do you expect to take control of your life? Successful people take full responsibility for their own situations.
If everything is always someone else’s fault, you will never take control of your financial life. It’s your life, and though at times you may not have as much control as you would like, you always have control over your thoughts.
Make sure to keep your thoughts in check.
How to Handle the Blame Other People Association
If you’re with this group, you can try to get them to see your way, but you aren’t changing anyone’s minds. Never point out it’s their own fault. Really, has that ever worked for anyone…EVER?!
Stay positive and avoid blaming. When you blame other people for your misfortune, you are giving away your power to change what is wrong in your life.
Remember, there is no such thing as a really rich victim.
The Ain’t It Awful Group (a.k.a. The Complainers)
This group is just about as negative as you can get. They moan and complain about anything and everything. If you spoke to them, you would be hard pressed to find anything good that has happened in the world in the past century.
“I don’t make enough money.” “Everything is too expensive.” “Did you see the price of oil?” “Isn’t it terrible about the stock market?”
Everything is bad for them.
Here’s the Deal
Much like the other two groups, they just want to be left in their misery. These people get pleasure out of complaining. Complaining is one of the least effective things you can do, unless you are using it to work towards a solution.
You can show them what is good and what is great, but they won’t easily succumb to the bright and happy world you choose to live in.
Remember, negatives can’t exist without positives. The positives are out there, you just need to find them and focus on them.
How to Handle the Ain’t It Awful Group
I have a saying:
I’d rather be alone than spend my time with negative people.
You see where I’m going with this?
That said, if you do find yourself stuck with them (they can be harder to get rid of than you think), I find it best to start asking questions at the end of every complaint to turn the conversation into something more uplifting and positive.
Get them to start thinking of the solution by asking: “How would you fix that?” or “What’s the right way to do it?”
More than likely you will get blank stares because the thought of fixing what’s wrong has never crossed their minds.
I can all but guarantee that when you ask questions like this they will complain less and less around you. They aren’t looking for solutions, they just want to complain.
My No-Fail Back-up
If the strategies above don’t help you, I’ll give you my fail-safe trick because I feel like we are friends now and part of the same positive vibe.
When someone forces his or her opinion on you (blames, justifies or complains) do this:
Simply smile, and in your head say to yourself: “That’s what you think” or “So you say” or my personal favourite “Thank you for sharing.”
Just because someone has an opinion, doesn’t mean you have to process it and take it in.
No thought lives in your head rent-free. That means when someone says something to you and you keep thinking about it one way or another, it costs you. It costs you time and it costs you brainpower. Don’t let their thoughts into your head.
You could be thinking about more important things, positive things and productive things. So dismiss the negativity and move on to things that make you feel good and happy.
Life is too short for anything else.
Find Better People to Be Around
If you want to be positive and stay that way, surround yourself with positive people. There’s a popular saying by successful entrepreneur Jim Rohn:
You are the average of the 5 people you spend most of your time with.
So choose wisely!
Birds of a feather flock together. Do you want to be stuck on the ground with the chickens, or soaring high with the eagles?
If your friends fall into any of the above groups, then you may need to rethink who you are spending your time with.
That’s what I did 10 years ago and it radically changed my life in more positive ways than I can list (new friends, more money, a more positive and happy life to name a few). It was hard to do at first, but I’m so happy I broke free of these groups.
If you don’t have anyone in your circle that feels the same way as you, reach out. A great place to start is Jessica’s Facebook group. I’m in there and it’s a great place to chat with other likeminded, positive people!
What tips and tricks do you have for dealing with negative money people?