Friday, January 8th, 2016

How do I Deal With a Negative Family Member?

By Carmen Jubinville on Feb 28 2012 • Filed under Ask an Expert

Carmen Jubinville, the Body Image Coach, gives advice on dealing with negative people. (Photo)Hi Carmen,

I have a family member who I feel constantly looks for the negative and directs all conversations in that direction. How do I cope without total avoidance?

Thanks, Client

Dear Client,

Thank you so much for your question and thank you for your permission to share it with my ezine readers. When I received your question I had a really strong feeling that so many people would relate so I appreciate you allowing me to respond this way.

The truth is, many of us deal with negative family members, spouses, co-workers, colleagues, friends, employees and more. So what's the best way to handle a situation like this? Well, before I begin, I will tell you that the solutions I offer are my opinion. Take what works for you and leave the rest.

Break it down into Two Parts

For me, I have a rule in my life that any time I struggle with a relationship I instantly break it down into two parts. The first part is always about 'what's in it for me?' In other words, if I am bothered by someone's behaviors, actions, words, etc. in a particular relationship, that's my clue that there is a lesson in it for me in one way or another. The way I see it, if there was nothing for me to learn there would be no trigger at all. So a quick rule of thumb: if it triggers you, it has something to teach you. So let's start with you.

What’s in it for Me?

What is this particular family member showing you about yourself? Maybe it's that you need to learn to stand up for yourself by setting clear boundaries. Maybe it's that you, yourself, have a negative attitude about something in your own life? Maybe it's that you are being critical because you are annoyed with this person for completely different reasons but have never spoken your mind about it to her/him. Take some time to reflect about this. If you dig deep enough, you'll certainly find the golden nugget hidden within this particular dynamic.

What’s in it for them?

So let's talk next about the second part. If the first part is all about you, then the second part is all about the other person. Chances are very good they also need to learn a lesson from their behavior, but let's face it, you can never make someone else learn a lesson right? Trying to change another person is like trying to change the weather. Good luck. So what do we do? We accept them and we let go and let God.

Now this isn't always easy and it doesn't mean we allow other people to affect our peace of mind. In your particular situation, you will need to set clear boundaries and vocalize those boundaries.

Setting Clear Boundaries

Here's an example: when your family member takes a turn toward negative discussion, you can say something like this, "I'm really working hard to stay focused on positive things in my life so I'd rather not talk about that right now." If they become offended, explain to them that's it not about them; it's about you trying to make positive changes in your life. From there you can change the subject and talk about something uplifting. You might even want to prepare a few ideas before you visit with this person. Ex. Positive things you can bring up.

If your family member's behavior persists even after you've voiced your boundary, maintain your position by repeating your original request. If your original request continues to be disrespected, then explain to your family member that you will have to end the conversation.

Here's an example: "I feel like I've been really clear about the kind of discussion I want to have. Can we please change the topic or would you prefer getting together another time?" (Hint – the best practice is to get your point across as firmly and yet as calmly and kindly as possible.)

To sum it up, the first part is to ask yourself what the particular experience trying to teach you about yourself. The second part is to accept the person as they are without trying to change them and yet setting clear boundaries. Express what you need and stick to your guns girl! You can do this!

Cheers to your massive personal success!

Love, Carmen 


Carmen JubinvilleCarmen Jubinville is a Certified Professional Coach‚Äč who specializes in teaching positive self-image including body image, life purpose and direction, and spirituality and principles helping you shape and transform your life so you can have more meaning and fulfillment. She offers value to her peeps through her coaching packages, programs, workshops and retreats. Find Carmen on Twitter @MentorToWomen, Facebook, or email:


  1.  sometimes it IS very clear and simple: there are negative people in the world,  but EVERY being has ABSOLUTE sovereignty over their OWN lives and who they CHOOSE to be around.  I have EVERY right to walk away and NEVER engage with a negative person if I so choose…. and if  every  positive human being remembered that, we would have a very different world, with negative people being VERY lonely and ignored….  do NOT listen to ANY human being trying to tell you that a negative person is "reflecting a part of you "  this is a very narcissistic, and destructive belief system which only serves to increase GUILT that we are anything OTHER than Divine Spiritual Beings, with FREE WiLL….   Negative people  ARE simply negative people Trying to impose THEIR negativity onto you, by enticing you to engage in their stupid narcissistic games…. simply WALK away,,, and leave them to their own sludge…..     to sympathize with such people is to condone negativity, and if one does that, one will become caught in a web NOT of their own making……  remember your FREEDOM, to FEEL, think, and ACT In the way that YOUR heart Tells you…..  and do NOT listen to ANY human being whatsoever…..  ONLY in this way, you will be FREE of all negative people and confusion.   and will always act with clarity, truth and Light….   thankyou blessed be.

  2. Great site you have got here.. It’s difficult to find qualty
    writing like yours nowadays. I honestly appreciatge individuals like you!
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  3. Enjoyed reading your article How to Deal with a Negative Family Member and have a question. If the family member talks about money frequently and I don’t want to hear that, how do I tell them? Thanks!

    • Hi Gail! If a family member is always discussing money and you are uncomfortable with that topic, the best way to handle it is to be straight up… "I'm uncomfortable talking about money. Let's change the subject." Keep in mind that you don't have to explain yourself but if you feel like you want to offer a short explanation, again, I would be really honest… for example, "I have money triggers or money issues and I'd prefer not talking about money."

      All too often we try to avoid or dance around how we're really feeling but in many circumstances I think we'd be so much better off if we'd just say it like it is.

      I hope this was helpful Gail!



  4. i am trying very hard to except the people who are negative in my life I want so much to move in my life because of there negativity it is so hard ,But I realize that I must let these people go and let them be them and I be myself so we can more froward to live our lives the best way we can .For if they choose to be negative and I choose to be positive it is best to let go and let God. The negative is to much for me it weight on my heart so today I am freeing myself from my family members and wishing them well. And to all others who are dealing with negative family, friends. co-workers lovers are who ever they may be Free yourself and be Happy!!!!!! Let go and Let God for he has all Power.

    • Hi Joyous! I'm sorry to hear that you're surrounded by so much negativity. It can be a real challenge that's for sure. A good rule of thumb for me is to always ask 'what's in it for me?' In other words, if someone in my life is really difficult to be around I ask myself if there is a lesson I'm needing to learn from the experience.

      For example, you might want to ask yourself why you are surrounded by so many negative people. What does God want you to see or learn in these relationships?

      Our purpose in life is to be peaceful and happy. I hope you will find that in both your life and in your relationships.



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