The negative social influences we are exposed to can harm our health just as much, if not more, than the worst chemical contaminants or environmental hazards. I’ve been working with people to help them improve their spiritual health for many years, and I’ve been able to identify seven basic groups of negative people who can pull the rug out from under even the most emotionally healthy person.
If you only interact with these folks on a casual or rarely basis, the harm they can cause is minimal. However, if you spend a lot of time with them or if they’re someone with whom you have a strong emotional bond, their behavior and unfavorable attitudes can have a significant impact on your health.
1. The Liar
Close your eyes, for a minute, and imagine that you’ve just caught your best friend / sibling / spouse / colleague lying to you about something emotionally-significant. Maybe, they ‘borrowed’ $50,000 out of your bank account without telling you… maybe, they just stabbed you in the back and stole your idea for the ‘deal of the century’ right out from under your nose… maybe, they just invited the whole neighborhood to their house for a big BBQ on the same day they knew you were planning to do it…
Now, what do you feel? Don’t be shy! I won’t tell anyone, I promise. This is just between the two of us.
What most of us would feel at this point is probably extremely anger and rage, mixed up with some jealousy, hatred, resentment, betrayal, disbelief, vengeance and enormous dislike.
Do you know what a motherlode of pressure and physical stress all these things put on your body? The racing heart, the hammering pulse, the tension headache, the neck pain, the tight chest, the back pain, the blurry eyesight, the raised blood pressure.
2. The Competitor
How are you feeling as you power out of the blocks? Pumped up with adrenaline? Completely focused on getting ahead? No patience or time for any distractions (like your kids, for example…)?
There’s a race to be won, and you’re not going to let anything get in your way.
How’d you feel if you made all that effort, and you still lost? How’d you feel if you lose every single time? Pretty bad, huh.
Hanging out with competitors can feel great when you’re on the winning team. But when you’re the one who feels like you’re losing, you can get depressed and miserable very fast.
When you get caught up in competing, you get so focused on the outcome you rarely have any time or patience for the process. Trouble is, the ‘process’ can include a whole bunch of life-affirming, health-supporting things like playing with your kids, taking the time to nurture yourself, and talking to God.
3: The Classic Gossiper
We can sum it up like this: when you spend too much time with gossipers, it blows a huge hole in your self-esteem, your self-confidence and your integrity (did you really want the whole neighborhood to know that you just got unceremoniously dumped? Or fired?)
Healthy relationships and poisonous gossip very rarely go together. Healthy relationships are based on mutual independence and respect; seeing the good in others; and encouraging your friend (or whoever) to believe in themselves, and to develop their God-given talents and abilities to the max. Unhealthy relationships do exactly the opposite.
4: The Blamer
When people are walking around blaming and shaming all the time, there is NO healthy compassion going on.
Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if they were only blaming themselves, and leaving you alone. But blamers just aren’t like that: they want to make sure that you also know that you’re defective, and simply not good enough.
When you keep getting blamed for a whole bunch of things that are actually not your responsibility (check back with the chapter on Healthy Accountability to remind yourself what they may be) – you can really start to believe that you really are the problem.
If that continues happening, it’s only natural that you start to dislike yourself for being so troublesome and problematic. I mean, if you weren’t so darned stupid / incompetent / selfish / or thoughtless, everything would be just dandy!
5. The complainant
You probably know one in the office? You can tell by the way he or she dramatically displays the weight of the world on their shoulders in public. Dealing with this type of person requires you to listen carefully, asking for clarification. They might feel bad about these accusations, but that’s the only way to get to the bottom of it. You should not agree with the complainant either. Don’t feel bad about it.
Read also: 6 Great Tips to Beat Negativity
6. The Mediator
I know what you’re thinking: how can mediating between two warring parties be anything but good, and kind, and healthy?
The truth is, sometimes it is. But that’s not the sort of mediation I’m talking about, here. I’m talking about the people who somehow manage to get in the middle of your big crisis, or big dispute, or big problem, uninvited, and then start turning it into a big theatrical ‘Peace Now’ event.
Instead of being about what you think, and about what you feel, your life starts to be run by ‘audience poll’, and that’s really not good for your self-esteem or your clarity. That’s because when there’s so much politically-correct ‘peace and love’ sloshing around, it can get really difficult to speak or act authentically, or to really be ‘you’. You have to say what sounds good. You have to think acceptable thoughts.
Trouble is, repressed thoughts and feelings don’t just disappear: they fester. The more we try to squash them down, instead of acknowledging them and dealing with them in a spiritually-healthy way, the greater the chances that they’ll show up as an energy block, emotional issue or even a physical problem, a little further on.
I know keeping the peace sounds very noble, but if you’re not genuinely ‘there’ yet, it can be really, really bad for your health.
7: The Worrier
Before you spent five minutes in the company of the worrier, you were feeling pretty upbeat, optimistic and happy about life. Now, you seem to have ‘caught’ their negative outlook, and you’re starting to feel pretty stressed and worried.
- Maybe, that bad cough your kid has is Ebola, and you were really dumb not to go and get it checked out ASAP?
- Maybe, that unopened letter from the bank is not just a routine statement, but is telling you they’re foreclosing on your house?
- Maybe, North Korea is going to try to set off a dirty-bomb in your neighborhood?
- Maybe, the stock market really is going to crash through the floor today, and wipe out all your retirement fund?
On and on it goes. Instead of smiling and enjoying the roses, now you’re consumed with anxiety and stress. Ten seconds later, your neck starts hurting, you get a migraine spike, your back starts twingeing, or you start to feel really weak on one side of your body…
8. The Mocker
When you’re sincerely trying to be a better person, or to get closer to God, or to improve your health and outlook, few things can torpedo your ability to aspire, improve and to change faster or more effectively than being mocked.
It only takes one particularly sharp comment, or one run-in with a cruel, shameless
‘smart mouth’ to wipe out a whole bunch of your healthy energy, and leave you feeling half-dead. That’s why the best advice for mockers is to stay as far away from them as you can. Period.
Can These Negative People Change?
The diagnosis of personality disorders, and thus of a toxic person or toxic personalities, raises the question of which criteria should be used to draw the line between normal and pathological behavior, because destructive – and thus pathological – traits can manifest themselves even when a person is well-adapted socially and frequently reserves his or her toxicity for specific areas of his or her life, such as the family, couple, and intimate relationships.
It is difficult to change a toxic personality since personality patterns represent personal and automatic interpretations of reality. They necessarily impact the relationship and act in return as a filter of this reality: we will tend to retain only what feeds our personal pattern.
These interpretations are dysfunctional in the sense that they cause suffering to the person and/or others, or even to society as a whole, in the case of an acute antisocial personality disorder or psychopathy) for example. If you feel you are a victim of a toxic personality, the solution is often to turn to the outside world to ask for help and break the isolation dynamics that may exist.
How To Avoid Negative People?
On a personal level, negative people might cause problems for us. Perhaps it’s because of that seller that you’re clenching your teeth. Maybe it’s a coworker you try to avoid at all costs. It’s critical to detect when these negative people make an uninvited appearance in your life. We can unconsciously give toxic people power over our thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. It’s critical to reclaim your personal power, whether you’ve spent two hours talking about that annoying boss or you’ve allowed an irate customer destroy your day.
Read also: 7 Tips To Deal With Difficult People At Work
Negative people’s main purpose is to attract attention and get followers by their unpleasant speech. People who are in close proximity to a poisonous person have a natural tendency to listen out of politeness or empathy. It’s easy to become caught up in their negative energy and warped feelings. This is a bad habit to get into because it will simply reinforce this person’s unpleasant statements and actions.
When you think you are in an unhealthy relationship with someone toxic, start by telling yourself that the most important thing is you. You need to help yourself. Your focus must be on you. Don’t point the finger at the problem and get caught up in the fear, stress or sadness, and tell yourself that there is always a solution or a way to save yourself.
You can choose to break away by talking to the toxic personality. You explain that you no longer wish to see them. The risk is obviously that the person in front of you will overreact and make you feel guilty. It all depends on their profile. If not, you can “play dead”, as they say. Also ask about the guilt that this might cause. However, sometimes, running away without leaving a trace, is saving.