Aunt Agony and Uncle Upset: Finding Positivity in Negativity

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By Iman Talia Zahiri-Han En (24S03E) and Chong Kai Qian (24S03B, Peer Helper)

Your resident Aunties and Uncles are back with our Ask Aunt Agony and Uncle Upset column, this time as a collaboration between Raffles Press and Peer Helpers’ Programme (PHP)! Ever wanted to rant about that someone you just can’t stand? Overwhelmed with too many feelings? Submit your confessions to and we’ll give them our best shot. This column will be published at the end of every month.

“How do we maintain a positive perspective if we are constantly surrounded by others who have a very negative pattern of thinking?”

Struggling Samuel

Dear Struggling Samuel,

It can be difficult to extract yourself from such a negative environment when everywhere you turn, you seem to be surrounded by people with similar negative mindsets. It is inevitable that we might catch ourselves falling into their thinking patterns as well, so do not blame yourself too much. However, there are always things we can do to protect ourselves from overly negative influences and maintain a positive perspective. 

Focus on your own thoughts and emotions

Even if others have negative thoughts, we can remain unaffected by them if we stay focused on upkeeping our own moods and being reflective. Instead of allowing others’ potentially harmful or depressing thoughts to infiltrate our minds, we should remember to concentrate on introspection and manage our own feelings. Some things you can try to achieve this include meditating or setting aside quiet time in your day to reflect.

Practise gratitude

Cultivating a grateful mindset can give us a more positive outlook on life by reminding us of things and people in our lives that we’re grateful for, centring our own experiences and balancing out others’ negativity. One way to do this is by making a habit of keeping a journal to write down things and experiences we are thankful for daily. From petting Teddy to enjoying a good waffle from Chill or a hug from a friend, these things can be simple and fleeting –– but no matter how small they may seem, they can contribute to lifting our mood and reminding us to be happy.

Seek out positive people and limit interactions with negative people

Those around us naturally influence our way of thinking. Surrounding yourself with positive people boosts your spirits, while keeping negative people away safeguards us from being affected by their mindsets. Though we wouldn’t go so far as to advise you to cut people out of your life completely, it might be helpful to talk to your friends with negative thinking patterns and set boundaries around the topics of conversation that you are willing to engage in, which could help you to avoid negative conversations and situations.

Take care of yourself

Dedicating time to maintaining your own well-being is important: engaging in activities that bring you joy can help boost your mood and improve your overall welfare. No matter what environment others may create, stepping away and giving yourself alone time can revitalise you and help you to face the pessimism that may have seeped into your own outlook on life. Give yourself the time and space to do something relaxing, like exploring your hobbies, chatting with close friends, or putting aside work for a while to read a book.

Although we may sometimes be surrounded by a cacophony of negative voices, these methods can help us to regulate our emotional state in the face of negativity. By carefully managing our mindset and lifestyle, we can cultivate a more positive mindset even when surrounded by negativity.

We hope that our advice is effective!

Aunt Agony and Uncle Upset

If you need anyone to talk to about any issues you might be facing, do drop by My Rest Space near Marymount gate and talk to one of our peer helpers! We’re open on Tuesday from 2.30 – 4.30 p.m, Wednesday 11.00 a.m. – 3.00 p.m., Thursday 2.30 – 4.30 p.m. and Friday 1.30 – 4.30 p.m. If you would like to meet a peer helper on a regular basis, do email us a request at or fill in our request form at our website!

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