People end up talking about and sometimes taking action based on these beliefs. They avoid those who have a pessimistic perspective or frown. They eliminate those who criticize or complain. They judge those who feel down or see the glass half empty. Why? Because they come to believe Jim Rohn’s or Gitomer’s predictions. They have come to believe they will act like those other negative people. They do not want to contaminate their lives through association. Let’s take a closer look.
Consider Your Own Perspective:
- Pessimism: The lens of perfectionism can prevent us from making big mistakes or losing our shirt in the stock market. My hubby tends to see the downside of some of my lofty, save-the-world ideas and is primarily responsible for us living in a comfortable home.
- Frowning: Most people in chronic or continual pain frown. I spent a week with a furrowed forehead from a disconcerting blood clot issue.
- Feeling moody: Do not call me sexist, but before menopause, for several days every month you could count on me to have fluctuating moods. My mother used to call this phenomenon, The Curse. Also, consider many adolescents with raging hormones who are described as moody!
- Complaining: Is that not what we expect the opposition party to do? Find fault and complain until something better is achieved? Do you not make improvements after someone complains about your behavior? Do we not expect our children to change for the better if we complain about their choices? Customer complaints often make for better service or products.
- Seeing the glass half empty: At Calgary’s Prego restaurant the attentive waiter repeatedly noticed my glass half empty and filled it. We called it great service! I have noticed my life half empty, grumbled about it, heard my problem, and made changes. A problem named is half solved!
So what is the point? Here are eight problems with believing you are the average of the five (or whatever number you want to decide on) people you spend the most time with. That belief contradicts these ideas:
Eight Problems with Eliminating Others from Your Life
- The Caption of Your Ship is Absent. You, as the expression goes, are the captain of your ship. Holocaust survivor and Psychologist, Victor Frankl, wrote about building our Internal Locus of Control. A strong Internal Locus of Control can help us keep in alignment with our values. Frankl wrote, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
- Strengths Are Neglected. Everyone has strengths. If they are used too often, strengths can become weaknesses. If you get stuck in optimism you may trust people who are not trustworthy, even harmful to you. Dig deep enough and we all have weaknesses. If we rejected people for their weaknesses we would all be at risk for exclusion.
- Love and Compassion Disappear. As humans we are wise to have a good dose of love and compassion for one and another. Once I hear a person’s story, typically in a therapy session, I see them as a miracle. I often hear stories of abuse, abandonment, betrayal, and great pain. Then a question of wonder rises, “Why isn’t she more pessimistic, depressed or negative? What gave her such resilience? As the Dalai Lama says, “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”
- Judgement Takes the Lead. Judging and rejecting others can be disrespectful. There are soldiers who have returned from Afghanistan with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They are wounded emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, if not physically. They may have irrational anger, drink too much or fall into depression. If you are a friend or family member, I hope you can find other ways to fill yourself with joy, fun and support. And I hope you feel inspired by the sacrifice that soldier made. He or she made an effort to give the people of Afghanistan, particularly the women and children, an improved future.
- Mental Health Sigma is Reinforced. Some people have mental health issues and need more care and attention. Rejection merely adds to their struggle. My brother manages the care for our at-one-time, fun Auntie. Each week he drives her to appointments, sits with her at appointments, and attends to her needs. Now with dementia she is forgetful, unhappy and paranoid, even accusing my brother of stealing from her. And he continues to go every week. I say, “Bless him.”
- The Possibility of Increasing Wisdom is Negated. Helping Professionals do noble work. They spend their days witnessing people’s neurosis, psychosis, addictions, and other forms of mental health issues. They sometimes work with acting out and violent youth. Teachers spend their days with uninformed children. Doctors and nurses spend hours with sick, inevitably grumpy, and whiny people. Most of them become wiser and stronger because of their experience.
- You Won’t Find Peace. If we want peace on earth we need to respect, appreciate, and have compassion for one another. We also need to be the peace we seek.
- The World Will Lose Your Kindness. There is a time and a place for us to accept the role of the wise mentor, the encouraging friend, the inspiring leader, and the kind supporter.
Yes, you are wise to choose some people in your circle who are a step ahead, who inspire you or have an uplifting spirit. But you are not required to rid yourself of others who see life from a different, pained or dull lens. Give them a break, unless they are emotionally toxic or a danger to your well being. Check your own resilience to determine your tolerance.
You Make You!
Lastly, please remember, you make you! You make you by being conscious of your choices. You can choose to learn from books, webinars, and classes, to meditate, to daydream, to invent, and to play in a puddle. You decide about that phrase negative people and the five people you spend the most time with.
What do you think?