To Be Or Not To Be With Negative People

To Be Or Not To Be With Negative People

Recently I wrote an article about drama, how to end it once and for all.

There were a few important themes from that article that I feel I should further elaborate upon.  Most importantly, I feel that the pendulum was swung heavily in one direction in my words about other people and their drama, and I would like to swing it back in another direction to balance it back out.

Ever since I first heard the story of the Buddha, I have been a very strong supporter of the middle way.  Even before I considered myself a “spiritual seeker”, I felt that this was a practical and important thing to understand.  It seems like anything in excess or extreme can begin to reap negativity or adverse effects.

In my last article about ending the drama once and for all, I asserted the idea that you are unlikely to be able to get someone that is encased in their own drama and addiction to their struggle to end it by bringing it to their awareness.  Often times this only fuels the fire, and adds to you being entangled in even more of their drama than you originally were. 

So what is the solution if someone playing a meaningful role in your life, someone you love, someone that circumstances cause you to spend a lot of time with, is constantly engulfed in drama, or negativity? 

 How to cope with negative family members, for example?

I brought up the middle way, because it has been my experience in the self-help world that most people’s advice is that if someone is overtly negative, ignorant, or unconscious, that your best bet is to cut them out of your life; completely limit your time with them.  It is a usual thought that these types of people are just simply “bad” for you, and the more time you spend with them, the more of a negative effect they will have on you.

Well, my thought on this idea is that this is both true and not true.  Yes, I do think it is a wise overall strategy to limit your time being exposed to negativity in any form, and I also have to admit that sometimes, being a conscious person (for the most part) that it can often times be nearly unbearable to spend too much time with someone that is very unconscious, and absorbed in their stories and drama.  There can seem to be an unscalable canyon between you and them. 

But at the same time, I also believe with conviction that there is great value in being able to spend time with the unconscious person, feel compassion for them, accept them, and overlook their ego to see through to the part of them that is at peace, is love, is awakened, and at one with everything. 

You must never forget that that person, even the most intolerably negative and ignorant person you can think of, is you

And along those lines, one of the most utterly enlightening and healing things you can do, both for yourself and the rest of the world, is forgive and overlook another person’s ego.  In order to do that, you cannot avoid them, resist them, and completely cut them out of your life, can you?

Remember, Jesus Christ himself spent great amounts of time with the poor and impoverished, even the prostitutes and criminals in jail.  You can only assert that these people were in a similar place of negativity as the negative people we encounter today. 

So why would an enlightened, powerful, and conscious human being spend time with such negativity and drama?

When we are in the presence of another human being, perceiving them and our interaction with them, we cannot escape the fact that in ultimate reality, they are holding up a mirror to us.  There is not any “real” difference between them and you.  

Remember that I talked about projection in the last article.  Projection being the idea that we are always subconsciously projecting our traits and demons, often times our most ghastly ones, onto other people.  The divided mind does this as a means to utterly avoid these issues, as they are too painful to face head on.  Thus we all manage to live our lives separated from our own dirt by perceiving it as outside of ourselves in other people, instead of inside of ourselves. 

But remember, there really is no “outside” or “inside”.  There is only ONE.

And this is why spending time with negative people can be a potent practice for self-discovery and spiritual progress.  Any time you are perceiving something negative in someone else, and are able to forgive it, overlook it, and see past it to the Love and innocence within them, you are actually still working on yourself.  You are forgiving and healing YOUR issues.

As an omnipotent, infinite, and limitless being, you are truly a part of every single thing that has or ever will exist.  You hold within your awareness the absolute entire spectrum of what we call “positive” and “negative”.  The most beautiful, holy, innocent things dwell inside of you, but so do even the most horrific, grotesque, sickening, and terrifying things.  Many would like to believe that real spiritual progress comes from simply denying or ignoring the negative and focusing on the positive, but the journey of self-growth is not always puppies and sunshine.  We must also face our fears.  We must learn to forgive and see through the darkness.  And we cannot learn to do this by running away from it, or pushing it away from us and projecting it onto other people.

Not only is the act of forgiving another person of their negativity healing to you, but it is also one of the most healing things you could ever do for someone else

Even if you notice no effect at all (as this act is usually done in the silence of your own mind), you can rest assured that it DOES do a lot for them.  What these people need more than anything in the universe is your love and acceptance, your ability to look past their dark side and still affirm their innocence.

I’m sure you’ve heard the stories of the hardened criminals and thugs that break down and cry in the presence of saints, or little children.  It is because these saints and children can still clearly see the innocence inside of these people that so many have not.  There is not one person in the world that does not have light inside of them, just like there is not one holy person in the entire world that does not have so-called “darkness” inside of them.  We are One.  We are everything.

So, I guess my point in this article is that although there may be times when it is crucial to avoid negativity and distance yourself from people and their unconscious drama, this is not necessarily something that should be considered as an absolute rule.  There will also be times when it is absolutely critical to go out into the world, face-first into the drama and negativity-the darkness, and be yourself the light that shines it away. 

This is one of your highest callings in this dualistic world as a conscious human being.  Forgiveness and acceptance, of even the most terrible things, has a very REAL power in this world, and YOU as a being that is waking up to your ultimate reality absolutely have the power to shine darkness away with the light of your consciousness. 

How do you know when the right time is to distance yourself from negativity and when the right time is to face it, and forgive it? 

This is a very personal question.  Take care of yourself when you are in solitude, so you can be more ready and aware as you are out in the world, intermingling with all the different energy that is out there.

Wishing you peace and empowerment always,

-Ashton A. 

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  1. 1
    Kai Ishaya

    I would like to add a few more thoughts about the concept of “being (or holding) a mirror” as I have seen numerous misunderstandings about it, and it took me some time to find my truth (at least) about this.
    In various spiritual communities, there is frequent use about someone “being a mirror” for someone else, and this phrase is often used as a veiled form of criticism, (the irony of which is truly deep!).

    Whenever one single person looks in a mirror, what does one see? THEMSELVES!
    So, what I realized is that when you are living as aware as you are able, EVERYone becomes a “mirror” for you! How we interact (or even choose to NOT interact) with them lets us see OURSELVES on several different ‘levels’ (physical, emotional, and mental). If one notices an undesirable/unhelpful response or reaction in themselves, this then can become an ‘area’ to become more aware and integrated.

    To tie this concept back into this article regarding “negative family members”; Carlos Castaneda’s shaman teacher, Don Juan, had one name for such people – “petty tyrants”. However, Don Juan regarded “petty tyrants” as an extremely valuable ‘gift’ for spiritual warriors to strengthen their own mettle.
    The “petty tyrants” provide this by challenging the warrior’s state of impeccability, as well as being a “mirror” for the warrior to observe themselves during their interactions.

    A very good “workbook/guide” for dealing with unavoidable things/situations/people that we may have strong dislikes for is Byron Katie’s “Loving What Is”. [Many people, at first, find the instructions in this book ‘daunting’ to follow. My advice is to be patient and gentle with YOURself while following them. They’re golden!]

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