Those Who Fight Monsters
Letting go of negative people doesn’t mean you hate them. It just means that you love yourself.—Anonymous
When did you last experience a negative encounter with someone? Was it this week? How did it work out? It is my experience that we cannot resolve negativity with more negativity. I liken it to putting out a fire with gasoline. Whilst your intentions may be honourable, gasoline causes vapours from the gas to burn wildly and the same happens when we douse negativity with more of it. Negative people are not like you and me insofar as they are addicted to the high that negativity offers. To put it another way, have you ever been so angry and experienced anger’s energy simmering in your body that it felt euphoric? It is this intensity that negative people are drawn to. Retaliating with negativity empowers them more and you are likely to walk away feeling disillusioned.
However, dealing with negative people with objectivity confuses them because they’re not accustomed to it. I’m not suggesting you become a doormat and allow others to walk all over you. I would encourage you to choose your battles wisely. Negative people are not battles you want to enter into lightly since you will lose every time. It was the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche who said: “Those who fight monsters should be careful lest they become monsters.” Negative people are experts at owning their darkness and enjoy being mired in toxic situations. They look for negativity at any opportunity and will drag you into their pit of despair. Even if you win the battle, you will lose the war for they will come back at you with greater force. This can stifle people because they are unaccustomed to dealing with toxic people.
I mentioned in an earlier article that I’ve been dealing with negative neighbours for over twelve months. They try to pull me into their negativity, yet I stay calm and peaceful because I refused to succumb to their ways. I will not be drawn into their world since I prefer peace and harmony, not being impregnated with unnecessary drama. They cannot understand how I can remain calm amid their chaos and confusion. It is because I nurture the gifts of patience, wisdom, inner peace, and compassion. I will not allow others to stampede across my mind with their conflicts when it has taken me years of personal growth to arrive at this state.
Don’t Engage with Them
Stop allowing other people to dilute or poison your day with their words or opinions.—Steve Maraboli
Yes, I concede that negativity is addictive because it triggers primeval emotions that force us to respond in anger and haste. Sometimes, this means saying or doing things out of character which we regret later. Isn’t it better to bide our time instead of responding to an emotionally charged situation? Sure, you may give them a piece of your mind which feels good, however, we must choose our battles wisely because winning the day doesn’t mean winning the war. How do you feel about this? I realise it may raise questions about unfairness. But we mustn’t see it that way because they aren’t winning. It may look that way but step into their shoes and you soon realise the heavy cost of carrying that negativity. What I’m saying is negative energy eventually takes its toll on a person.
How dreary must their lives be if negativity is their answer to everything? It reminds me of the story told by the Buddha in which he equated anger being akin to holding a hot coal in our hands. Whilst the intention is to throw it at another person, we are the ones who get burned. This personifies what negative people thrive on. Their anger and hatred become their weapon turned against them. Similarly, if you’re familiar with the area of mind-body medicine, you know that toxic emotions may manifest as disease in the body if given enough attention.
So, what is the antidote to dealing with negative people? There isn’t a secret other than to stay clear of them where possible, for it was Albert Einstein who once said: “Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution.” In a similar vein, I would advise you to notice your own anger and negativity when in their company. It’s not that I don’t get angry when I’m around destructive people, however, I’ve learned to direct this energy appropriately. It will require practice and you will slip up on occasions.
Nowadays, negative people serve as the teachers who help me improve my emotional skills. Every encounter with a toxic person is an opportunity to master my emotional constitution. Yes, there will be times when they get the better of me, but I use the opportunity to improve myself each time. With this in mind, I’d like you to think about the negative situation I asked you about earlier. Write or journal how you could improve your interaction with this person next time you see them. What emotions are they triggering? Is it anger, shame, guilt, or disappointment? Why do you feel this way? Where in your past have you been triggered by similar events? It is only when we truly know ourselves that others are less likely to pull us into their lair of despair.
We become bastions of peace and positivity because as the Navy Seals often say: Calm is contagious.