This is one of those “life lessons” that I’ve known in theory for a long time. I include it here because, over the years, I have become more aware of the toxic funk that I fall into after being a messenger of pessimism myself. I have further come to understand the surprisingly profound (and negative) effect upon my own sense of well-being that is brought about when toxic individuals are allowed a speaking role in my head.
These are the people that will suck the energy, positivity, and enthusiasm from a room. At some level, these individuals know that their attitude is largely responsible for their own dissatisfaction. Unfortunately, it is a quirk of human nature that the pessimist or the slanderer takes an odd joy in bringing others down into their pit of dashed hopes.
Sometimes, I will have no choice but to work with a negative person. There will be occasions in which an otherwise toxic individual will genuinely need my help. This lesson, like the rest, calls for wisdom and discretion in its application. But I find that the need to apply this rule generally outpaces any exceptions that I might occasionally make.
Observe Proverbs 16:28 – “A perverse man spreads strife, and a slanderer separates intimate friends.” Or Proverbs 26:20 – “For lack of wood the fire goes out. In the same way, where there are no whispers of gossip, contention quiets down.”
Occasionally, a gentle word of positivity or challenge will turn a negative person on his/her head, and lead to a redemptive moment. This is my preferred strategy. If it doesn’t work…the next step is distance. And lots of it.