Just another demeaning label.
Should we place them under house arrest?
Banish them to a remote island?
What should we do with all the negative people in the world?
It has become commonplace for advice givers, including some on the spiritual side of the fence, to preach segregation as a strategy for personal happiness. They urge us to cut negative people out of our lives. Their negativity is a drain on our positivity, we are told. Apparently, there's just so much positivity to go around.
But since almost all of us react negatively to life's unpredictable ups and downs once in a while, including the most enlightened among us, this would seem an impractical approach.
I suppose it's possible to determine the amount of negativity we’re willing to accept from others on a percentage basis, and then sort the population out according to our personal negativity indexes. But this is just as problematic. If the positive among us catching us doing this, our behavior could easily be perceived as negative, and there we would be, part of the population we were attempting to distance ourselves from. It gets knotty.
And anyway, how can avoiding negative people pass as enlightened counsel? I doubt that Jesus or Buddha would have thought much of this idea. Human beings just like us, these men were walking examples of our highest human potential, to love without exception, to admit the least of us into their company.
Negative is just another demeaning label, like flamer, ditz, bible thumper, neat freak and loser. Labels anesthetize us to the shame we might otherwise feel when we turn our backs on another human being. People we label as negative are simply those who have yet to find tools to break out of their emotional prisons. They are confused and scared and hurt, even though they would prefer to happy.
Haven't we all been in such a dark place? And when we were there did we want others to step around us as if we were carrying the plague, or were we hoping they might pierce the darkness with a kind word or gesture? When I was there, a knowing smile could warm me for days.
It is one thing to keep our distance from those who truly threaten our physical or emotional well being, but it is quite another to turn our backs on those whose fates might be altered by the light of our loving presence - people like you and me whose reactions to life's complexities vary only by degree. If not us, then who?
So cleanse your life of so called negative people if you must, but if this is part of a spiritual journey you may want to consult your map. You may remember that you too were once confused and scared and hurt, and that it was this suffering that ultimately ignited the flame of your self-awareness.
Not to worry. I won’t cut you out of my life. You and I are on the same spiritual path. We all are. We all want to be at peace with ourselves and the world around us. If you find yourself slotting others into negative categories, it’s a sign that you’ve ventured onto the wrong path. Time to check the pilot light. Your self-awareness may be sputtering into self-absorption.