There are many philosophies on why people are difficult, can be perceived as negative, angry, hostile or aggressive. Whatever the reason behind it sometimes you just can’t avoid a person with a cloud of funk around them.
I don’t like the word “toxic people” because I think that all of us are great spirits. I prefer wounded or angry people. You know, the type that never seem to smile, never have anything nice to say, and can get bent out of shape about the littlest thing. People who can sometimes seem like a living black-hole in that they suck all the happy energy out the room.
There is no way to completely avoid negative people unless you live in a remote monastery where everyone has taken a vow of silence in some far off part of the world and, even then, you could probably find one person who seems to have a less than cheery vibe.
It can be hard when confronted with someone else’s baggage not to pick it up and carry it forward like it’s your own.
Case in point: someone from another office was completely rude with me and talked to me in a very disrespectful manner for no logical reason.
My initial response was to cry and then I got angry. I let the anger fill up, slowly rising to the top like the red line on a thermometer. I sat thinking up all the mean (and yet witty) things I could say or email that would make this person realize they had been a total jerk to me and totally put them in their place.
Yep, I was going to give it right back to them. If they can’t stand the heat they better get out of the kitchen!
The more I typed the imaginary email in my mind, the worse I felt.
I took a second to really remember what their face looked like as the less than kind words came out of their mouth. This person’s eyes were tired,skin sunken in with the tell-tale signs of someone who is not taking care of themselves and who is not happy. Perhaps of someone who drinks in secret to quiet the nagging pain in their heart.
I clicked delete on the imaginary “rip ’em a new one” email in my mind and instead replaced it with a Hallmark-worthy thought.
I thought, “I bless you and I send you love.”
The air around me became lighter and I instantly started to feel better.
So I thought it again.
“I bless you and I send you love.”
And I felt even better. All the anger and hurt that I felt because of the way this person had acted towards me vanished and was replaced with a sense of calm, a feeling of understanding, and a feeling of connectedness.
I did not allow this person to foul up my mood or my day which I could’ve if I had continue to ruminate about it, or if I had sent a nasty email. Instead, I allowed myself to feel compassion for another human who probably needed it.
In blessing that person, I was blessing myself in a way because I gained a positive outlook and felt good. I left their baggage with them and felt love in my heart.
I know for certain there have been days when I have lashed out at someone who didn’t deserve it because of what was going on with me.
Maybe this person was just having one of those day. Or maybe this person has a pattern of being mean everyday and they can’t shake it. Well, doesn’t someone like that need kindness even more since, clearly, they’re not having a very pleasant human experience?
I’d say they do. I recall a Buddha quote that said something to the effect of “If you really loved yourself you could never hurt another.” People hurt when they are hurting.
This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t set boundaries with people. We should. Having boundaries is important – especially with someone who has a tendency to be negative, rude or hostile.
It does mean, however, that when we practice kindness towards others irregardless of the way they show up in the world, we’re practicing kindness to ourselves by not allowing someone else’s disposition to sour our own.
Of course it’s easier said than done. That’s what it’s called a practice because it’s something we need to continually work on so that it becomes second nature. We all have off days when we may throw up the finger at the driver behind us with road rage rather than ignore them but we should, more often than not, practice kindness.
Have you had a time when you wanted to cuss someone out but showed them love instead? Tell us about it in the comments!