I recently watched an interview on You Tube about “negative noise” that got my hackles up. The researcher was explaining the benefits of periodically distancing ourselves from “negative” friends in our sphere. You may be nodding your head in agreement or you may be experiencing what I did.
How interesting… I was having a negative reaction to the “negative noise” guy! But because I am Trish Whynot, I want to know why rather than distance myself. When I was in my late 20’s, early 30’s I thought I had life all figured out in this way too, but then my health showed me otherwise.
On my healing journey I swung from being “polite”—absorbing the rants of some friends and family—to separating myself from these very people I had learned to view as negative. Much like the negative noise guy, I thought they were bad for me. But eventually I found a healthy approach between politeness (which I thought meant tolerance) and separation. That healthy approach showed me how I was a contributing factor rather than a victim. Victims suffer. Contributing factors learn, heal and grow. So rather than tell you not to heed the advice from that researcher to avoid suffering and miss a growth opportunity, I decided to apply that healthy approach with my hackles. And boy was there a wealth of value there for me.
Stepping away can be valuable when we do it to search our souls, a.k.a. have a brutally honest conversation with ourselves about why we are upset. But when we do it in response to accusing someone of not doing a good enough job at life and spoiling ours, it just turns us into our own version of a negative friend. I bet this researcher would rather have his friends bring awareness to his behavior than judge him as bad and step away. In some situations it is practical but with a friend?
"An honorable human relationship - that is, one in which people have the right to use the word "love" - is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining truths they can tell each other.
It is important to do this because it breaks down self-delusion and isolation.
It is important to do this because in doing so we do justice to our own complexity.
It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us."
I had forgotten that I had practiced what the negative noise guy was preaching so hearing his talk made me cringe. When swinging between tolerance and separation you aren’t aware of other viable options. When I was ill and had distanced myself I learned to soul search. It revealed that I was inept at having a hard, honest, necessary conversation with a friend. It took me some counseling sessions, wrestling with my fears and a lot of journaling to find my words. And then I read them to her. I didn’t send the letter, I shared it face to face. That was how I began communicating my feelings. I had done my best to squeeze all the juice out of the blame and emotional charge before sharing. There was certainly room for improvement but I was officially on the path toward emotional development. It took several drafts and a career change but the outline of what I did has become the emotional release meditation that I teach my clients today. Our emotions are valuable when we know how to work with them and can be destructive when we don’t.
Telling ourselves that we can focus better with periodic distance from negative nellies is a brilliant way to avoid our feelings. Distancing yourself from the part of you who is upset by the “negativity” is distancing yourself from your Greater Self. To me, nothing is worth focusing on for that price. But what do I know? All I know is that separation by itself only provided a temporary fix while separation to soul search provided a permanent one.
Life experience has shown me that a “negative” person showing up on my doorstep is more than just a nuisance. It takes humility to admit that the negative noise guy got my hackles up and to admit that if there wasn’t value there for me my hackles wouldn’t be up. Remember, initially I wanted to tell you why you shouldn’t listen to the negative noise guy but that just didn’t feel quite right. Having those hard conversations with myself and with others takes courage and practice but it’s so worth it.
Tolerance and separation are two sides of the same coin. They both lack sincerity. They are the passive and aggressive versions of ignorance and arrogance. I’d much rather develop humility, wisdom and emotional maturity than ignorance, control strategies and arrogance but sometimes we have to exhaust the extremes before we can even realize that there is a creamy center in the middle.
It was pretty cool to write this all out. I thank the negative noise guy for triggering my stroll down memory lane. It was here that I was able to forgive myself for my own previous ignorance and arrogance and the hurt it may have caused, and forgive those whose ignorance and arrogance have spilled over onto me. What a soul cleanser.
Do you need to travel through arrogance to find humility? Maybe there are other routes but this was mine.
Next time you find yourself emotionally charged:
- try the phrase, “How interesting I’m having a negative reaction” and do some soul searching rather than be quick to react.
- don’t expect your friends to be perfect, grow together and laugh at yourselves and each other often… with affection of course.
- be sure to not call anybody out until you’re done swinging.
At least that’s what I’ll be practicing until something creamier comes along.
And sorry again Scott, for being the recipient of my initial swing. I've got to work on that. I’m glad you received it in the right vein… with humor. Thanks for sharing the video!
I can now feel for you, negative noise guy, because I’ve been you. I wish you all the best in your pursuit of truth. I’m here if separation stops working for you.
Enjoy the journey folks!
Friends in this Love,
Chapter 10: Why Can’t I Just Get Over It? Explains why we sometimes feel more than a situation should warrant, a.k.a. have a negative reaction.