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Why It Is A Loss To Distance Yourself From Negative Engergy

Why It Is A Loss To Distance Yourself From Negative Engergy

Several years ago my uncle Bob was killed by a drunk driver. He was a doctor, single, and had only three nieces–myself and my two sisters–as relatives. Having already lost our mother, uncle Bob was our only “connection” to her side of the family, and we were devastated. He had been such a big part of our lives. Of course, everyone deals with a loss in a unique way, but once the shock was over, we realized we had to make the “arrangements,” get his affairs in order, and settle his estate (which was rather large). That’s when all of the drama and negative energy rose to the surface.
I quickly learned that deaths, funerals and property issues bring out negative energy. At first, I only wanted to run away from it all and just grieve for my loss. What I came to realize, however, is that letting that negative energy surround me, if only temporarily, actually worked for my good in many ways. Here are 12 things I brought out of that experience:

Negative energy means criticism, but confrontation builds confidence

It was my job to make the funeral arrangements. I was the only one living in the same town, and uncle Bob had left no instructions. Still, I knew his favorite hymns, and I knew that he did not have a specific church affiliation. So, I contacted my church pastor and asked for him to officiate. Then I contacted a nearby mortuary and arranged for the casket, the viewing, and all of the other details. I purchased a plot in the cemetery in which our mother was buried, along with a headstone.
The criticism came almost immediately. The casket was too expensive; uncle Bob never would have approved. Why my church? My sisters had church affiliations and maybe they wanted the service in a church of their denomination. How selfish could I be? For an afternoon, I stewed and agonized. Then, the epiphany hit. Criticism born of negative energy needs to be met with confident assertion. I called each sister, stated that I had made the arrangements I felt best, and they would stand as made. I also reminded them that this was about uncle Bob, not us. I then offered that if either one of them wished to take on the task of completely re-doing the arrangements, I would be okay with that. Neither volunteered, and that criticism ceased. I felt good, and the negative energy did not envelope me.

People with negative energy blame, but it can be a teaching tool

All of us, in our grief, blamed the justice system for being too lax on drunk drivers. The individual who killed our uncle had already been in court for DUI’s and had paid fines and undergone probation. Obviously, he was anything but a safe driver, and yet he still had a license. And not one day in jail. We wanted our revenge not just on him but on the court system as well. This blame talk went on for months, until I finally realized that only positive action would be productive. I stopped having these conversations with my sisters and, instead, did some research on active groups in my town that were confronting the issue. Not only did I find a support group, I found lots of positive energy toward changing laws.

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Negative energy causes us to catastrophize, but that forces us into perspective

One sister was tasked with meeting with the local newspaper to devise an obituary. My uncle was a bit prominent in the town, and so a longer obituary was in order. She provided all of the details. When the obituary was published, it left out one organization of which he had been president. You would have thought the sun had dropped out of the sky permanently. Seeing her reaction made me think of times when I had done the same thing. Small incidents become catastrophes and magnified beyond proportion. Given that my uncle was gone, any obituary was such a trivial thing. Now, I understand my grandmother’s statement, “If it will matter five years from now, then it is something to worry about.” Smart woman. I’ll try to remember this in the future.

Filtering out the positive is common negative energy but it helps with the weeding

I was nervous about the funeral service because I was worried about how my sisters would react to every little thing. I was not too far off. While the service was a lovely tribute to my uncle, there was a small eulogy given by a lifelong friend that probably bordered on slightly off-color memories of their youth together. One negative chalked up. There were a few other minor things, such as my pastor pronouncing his middle name incorrectly and a second cousin we had not seen in years arriving drunk. One sister chose to dwell on these negative things after it was all over. It really put a damper on my mood for a while, and there was no way to escape. As I lay down to sleep that night, I began to laugh. First, my uncle was probably laughing at these mistakes, so I might as well laugh with him. Second, by getting all of the “little negatives” out of the way, my sister had done me a favor. It was like weeding a garden. What was left was a beautiful event that honored our uncle.

Negative energy feeds negative drama, but drama can be a great release

I’ll admit it, sometimes I like to observe drama. It can be quite entertaining if you are not in the midst of it and can just watch from the sidelines. The drama of my uncle’s estate began with the dividing up of his personal goods from his home. Now, mind you, as wealthy as he was, my uncle was a bit quirky. He lived in a very modest home and maintained very few valuables–some rare coins, a Rolex watch (I wish now I had given it to the undertaker to put on his wrist and kept hidden by his jacket sleeve), a few pieces of antique furniture, a few valuable pieces of art, and my grandmother’s china which is probably worth quite a lot.
My oldest sister had the idea that we would draw numbers for who would go first, then we would alternate, each making a selection. The Rolex watch went first of course, selected by my sister who was divorced and had no male children. My other sister was appalled, of course, because her husband would have gotten actual use out of it. Now I am not a perfect person either and was clearly upset about a few items that the others got. We had a lot of drama that afternoon–most of it along the lines of, “He knew how much I loved that; he would have wanted me to have it.” By the end of the afternoon, however, after it was all over, we sat, got a bottle of wine from his private collection, and toasted him and his wonderful being. The drama was a great release of part of our grieving, we recognized it as such, and moved on.

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Polarized thinking is negative energy, but it allows to see the grays

It was difficult to think of the drunk who hit our uncle as anything but pure evil. And we all shared in some true negative thinking about him. He was the scum of the earth; he needed to rot in jail for the rest of his life. I bought into this thinking for a while. My sisters bought into it for a long while. All during the week of preparations, the funeral, and still to this day, I am certain at least one of my sisters still has this polarized thinking.
Ultimately, the man received a three-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter, with some years of probation after that and permanent revocation of his driver’s license. I heard that both of my sisters came into town and attended his hearing and judgment, and both were livid. I didn’t go. Their attempts to pull me into their polarized thought was successful in the beginning, but it also allowed me to see how wrong that was. People, and, indeed the world, are a kaleidoscope of grays. We are all bad and we are all good, and sometimes we make horrible mistakes with terrible consequences. But black and white? No. When we stick around and witness polarized thinking, we see how debilitating it can be.

Complaining is contagious but it can clarify priorities

It’s so easy to get into the habit of complaining. The weather is bad; the traffic is horrible; prices are too high; politicians are all greedy for power and money; the boss is crazy; the kids are unruly; the neighbors’ dog barks too much. And when we are around others who complain a lot we do the same. It gives us a sense of belonging, of camaraderie. When we leave a general “bitch” session like this, what we find ourselves in is a state of exhaustion. That’s how that week with my sisters was–one complaint after another until I was exhausted. What it did for me, however, was help me to clarify what was really important in life and to vow to spend less time with them in the future.

Victimology is negative energy at it’s pinnacle, but it can have a humorous outcome

Now, my sisters and I are not victims–not by any stretch of the term. But during the week of the funeral, a great aunt arrived from Colorado and stayed at my house. She would have gotten a hotel, she stated, but just couldn’t afford those kinds of things anymore. Her husband had been a gambler and had left her with only social security and his small pension from his years at a factory job. She was forced to live in a subsidized senior citizen community. She got sick last year because the management refused to provide adequate heat. One problem after another was someone else’s fault, and she had no choice but to just be the victim of fate, of circumstances, and of others. One day she slipped and mentioned that her daughter had bought her a new car and had set up a checking account for her and put so much in every month. This, of course, was because she had been such a good mother–it wasn’t fate. When bad things happen, it’s someone else’s fault; when good comes it’s by our good work.

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Negative energy means lack of gratitude, but it is easily foiled

My sisters have good lives. During the week of the funeral, however, I got an earful of their lack of gratitude. Nothing was really quite right or good enough in their lives. Why, one child was only on the second-string of the basketball team; one husband was just passed over for a huge promotion; good cleaning help was so hard to find, as they shared terrible housekeeper stories; one was thinking of a facelift because she looked older than her friends. As we say in the field of education, this was a “teachable” moment. So, I began with stories of some of my students–one whose mom had just died from cancer; another whose family had just been evicted and was now living in a homeless shelter at the Salvation Army. The point was well made, and they stopped.

Negative overgeneralization is narrowmindedness but it cautions us

My uncle always felt a need to “give back,” and he did that in the form of opening his office on Saturdays to those who could not afford care and who had no health insurance. Obviously, when he died, a lot of those people came to his funeral. They were not the best dressed and there were many others there who probably wondered who they were. I knew and had explained this to my sisters in advance. They were not happy that all of these “street people” were in attendance and clearly believed that they did not belong there. Many in fact were hard-working people. When we are hit with this kind of negative labeling, it reminds us not to do the same toward any group of people–lazy poor people, greedy rich people, or corrupt politicians.

Selfishness exudes negative energy but it forces introspection

It’s natural to focus on ourselves, our goals, our problems, and our responsibilities. When it becomes excessive, however, it throws off a negative vibe that makes us want to just get away. How long can we listen to the talk of someone who believes that it’s “all about them”? The funeral taught me that my sisters tend to be in that mode a lot. Perhaps I do too. Seeing this trait in them has made me far more mindful of my conversations with others and to become a better listener.

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Resentment is terrible negative energy, but it can end toxic relationships

Of the three of us, I am the only one who never married. Over the years, I could kind of feel inklings of resentment on the part of my siblings. I am not rich; I am a teacher. They married well and enjoy a pretty great lifestyle. So why the resentment? Because I always had the freedom to do as I wished. If I wanted to spend Christmas vacation in Belize, I did so. If I wanted to sleep until noon on Saturday and not clean my house, I did so. If I wanted out of a relationship, I just got out. I also had more time to spend with uncle Bob over the years, and I did. He loved stories about my “kids” (students), we often ate out together, and took a few trips together as well.
When we finally landed in the lawyer’s office a few weeks after the funeral, the resentment turned to anger and accusations. Uncle Bob had a trust. Half of his assets were mine. The other half were divided between my two sisters. That did it. I was accused of manipulating him, of taking advantage of him, of spending time with him only to get his money.
I had finally had enough. What was holding our relationship together anyway? Blood was the only thing I could think of. The negative energy emanating from these two over the years really was a big downer, and it dawned on me that there really was no reason for me to spend lots of time letting that energy pour onto me. They have since apologized, and we have somewhat reconciled, however, I keep my distance. Truly, we should be grateful for negative energy people; they are our best teachers.

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Published on May 4, 2021

How To Spot Fake People (And Ways To Deal With Them)

How To Spot Fake People (And Ways To Deal With Them)

They say we are the average of the five persons we spend the most time with. For a minute, consider the people around you. Are they truly who your “tribe” should be or who you aspire to become in the future? Are they really genuine people who want to see you succeed? Or are they fake people who don’t really want to see you happy?

In this article, I’ll review why it is important to surround yourself with genuine individuals—the ones who care, bring something to our table, and first and foremost, who leave all fakeness behind.

How to Spot Fake People?

When you’ve been working in the helping professions for a while, spotting fake people gets a bit easier. There are some very clear signs that the person you are looking at is hiding something, acting somehow, or simply wanting to get somewhere. Most often, there is a secondary gain—perhaps attention, sympathy, or even a promotion.

Whatever it is, you’re better off working their true agenda and staying the hell away. Here are some things you should look out for to help spot fake people.

1. Full of Themselves

Fake people like to show off. They love looking at themselves in the mirror. They collect photos and videos of every single achievement they had and every part of their body and claim to be the “best at what they do.”

Most of these people are actually not that good in real life. But they act like they are and ensure that they appear better than the next person. The issue for you is that you may find yourself always feeling “beneath” them and irritated at their constant need to be in the spotlight.

2. Murky in Expressing Their Emotions

Have you ever tried having a deep and meaningful conversation with a fake person? It’s almost impossible. It’s because they have limited emotional intelligence and don’t know how they truly feel deep down—and partly because they don’t want to have their true emotions exposed, no matter how normal these might be.

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It’s much harder to say “I’m the best at what I do” while simultaneously sharing “average” emotions with “equal” people.

3. Zero Self-Reflection

To grow, we must accept feedback from others. We must be open to our strengths and to our weaknesses. We must accept that we all come in different shapes and can always improve.

Self-reflection requires us to think, forgive, admit fault, and learn from our mistakes. But to do that, we have to be able to adopt a level of genuineness and depth that fake people don’t routinely have. A fake person generally never apologizes, but when they do, it is often followed with a “but” in the next breath.

4. Unrealistic Perceptions

Fake people most often have an unrealistic perception of the world—things that they want to portray to others (pseudo achievements, materialistic gains, or a made-up sense of happiness) or simply how they genuinely regard life outside themselves.

A lot of fake people hide pain, shame, and other underlying reasons in their behavior. This could explain why they can’t be authentic and/or have difficulties seeing their environment for the way it objectively is (both good and bad).

5. Love Attention

As I mentioned earlier, the biggest sign that something isn’t quite right with someone’s behavior can be established by how much they love attention. Are you being interrupted every time you speak by someone who wants to make sure that the spotlight gets reverted back to them? Is the focus always on them, no matter the topic? If yes, you’re probably dealing with a fake person.

6. People Pleaser

Appreciation feels nice but having everyone like you is even better. While it is completely unrealistic for most people to please everyone all the time, fake people seem to always say yes in pursuit of constant approval.

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Now, this is a problem for two reasons. Firstly, these people are simply saying yes to things for their own satisfaction. Secondly, they often end up changing their minds or retracting their offer for one reason or another (“I would have loved to, but my grandmother suddenly fell ill.”), leaving you in the lurch for the 100th time this year.

7. Sarcasm and Cynicism

Behind the chronic pasted smile, fake people are well known for brewing resentment, jealousy, or anger. This is because, behind the postcard life, they are often unhappy. Sarcasm and cynicism are well known to act as a defense mechanism, sometimes even a diversion—anything so they can remain feeling on top of the world, whether it is through boosting themselves or bringing people down.

8. Crappy friend

Fake people are bad friends. They don’t listen to you, your feelings, and whatever news you might have to share. In fact, you might find yourself migrating away from them when you have exciting or bad news to share, knowing that it will always end up one way—their way. In addition, you might find that they’re not available when you truly need them or worse, cancel plans at the last minute.

It’s not unusual to hear that a fake person talks constantly behind people’s backs. Let’s be honest, if they do it to others, they’re doing it to you too. If your “friend” makes you feel bad constantly, trust me, they’re not achieving their purpose, and they’re simply not a good person to have around.

The sooner you learn to spot these fake people, the sooner you can meet meaningful individuals again.

How to Cope With Fake People Moving Forward?

It is important to remind yourself that you deserve more than what you’re getting. You are worthy, valuable, precious, and just as important as the next person.

There are many ways to manage fake people. Here are some tips on how to deal with them.

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1. Boundaries

Keep your boundaries very clear. As explained in the book Unlock Your Resilience, boundaries are what keep you sane when the world tries to suffocate you. When fake people become emotional vampires, make sure to keep your distances, limit contact, and simply replace them with more valuable interactions.

2. Don’t Take Their Behavior Personally

Sadly, they most likely have behaved this way before they knew you and will continue much longer after you have moved on. It isn’t about you. It is about their inner need to meet a void that you are not responsible for. And in all honesty, unless you are a trained professional, you are unlikely to improve it anyway.

3. Be Upfront and Honest About How You Feel

If your “friend” has been hurtful or engaged in behaviors you struggle with, let them know—nicely, firmly, however you want, but let them know that they are affecting you. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, you’ll feel better and when you’re ready to move on, you’ll know you tried to reach out. Your conscience is clear.

4. Ask for Advice

If you’re unsure about what you’re seeing or feeling, ask for advice. Perhaps a relative, a good friend, or a colleague might have some input as to whether you are overreacting or seeing some genuine concerns.

Now, don’t confuse asking for advice with gossiping behind the fake person’s back because, in the end, you don’t want to stoop down to their level. However, a little reminder as to how to stay on your own wellness track can never hurt.

5. Dig Deeper

Now, this one, I offer with caution. If you are emotionally strong, up to it, guaranteed you won’t get sucked into it, and have the skills to manage, perhaps you could dig into the reasons a fake person is acting the way they do.

Have they suffered recent trauma? Have they been rejected all their lives? Is their self-esteem so low that they must resort to making themselves feel good in any way they can? Sometimes, having an understanding of a person’s behavior can help in processing it.

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6. Practice Self-Care!

Clearly, putting some distance between the fake person and yourself is probably the way to go. However, sometimes, it takes time to get there. In the meantime, make sure to practice self-care, be gentle with yourself, and compensate with lots of positives!

Self-care can be as simple as taking a hot shower after talking to them or declining an invitation when you’re not feeling up to the challenge.

Spotting fake people isn’t too hard. They generally glow with wanna-be vibes. However, most often, there are reasons as to why they are like this. Calling their behavior might be the first step. Providing them with support might be the second. But if these don’t work, it’s time to stay away and surround yourself with the positivity that you deserve.

Final Thoughts

Remember that life is a rollercoaster. It has good moments, tough moments, and moments you wouldn’t change for the world. So, look around and make sure that you take the time to choose the right people to share it all with.

We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with, so take a good look around and choose wisely!

More Tips on Dealing With Fake People

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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