In Thich Nhat Hanh's book Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames, he mentions how we can limit our occasions of anger and liberate our society by ingesting less anger supplied by foods tainted with animal cruelty or growth hormones and by avoiding ingesting "other items that contain toxins such as certain TV programs, magazines, books and films". This model of mindful consumption also applies to conversations and people who may poison you with their toxic words and energy.
In my coaching sessions I apply a similar practice where I encourage people to 'fire' negative and unsupportive clients in the same way that you'd let go of an employee who was an energy drain, negative influence or time waster. 'Firing' clients can have the added benefit of replacing them with new clients that appreciate your effort, pay their invoices on time and with whom you enjoy working.
Firing friends (and even relatives) who are a negative influence can be a bit more delicate and at times seem impossible but, as Hanh says, their energy can poison you if you don't avoid them or build up immunity to their toxins. It takes a great level of honesty and courage to fire a friend and feelings can get hurt, but eliminating the influence these people might have on you can be your own personal liberation.
As usual, the next step after firing is hiring replacements. I ask my clients to look around and identify people whom they admire, people who have 'something they want'. We're not talking about envy or lust here, the conversation is about seeing qualities, success, accomplishment or a 'being-ness' in others that you'd like to have more of in your own day to day life. Simply put, if you hang around with them, some of what you admire about them will 'rub off on you'.
I call these people 'buddies' or more precisely 'mirror images' because in order to appreciate the qualities in others you must already have some idea or possession of these attributes yourself. In selecting these people you will know that you are choosing them as your mirror image because the best of you will be reflected in them.
We're not talking about seeking out the best in the world here as much as we are the best in your society; people you can appreciate, observe and befriend. You're not asking them to be a mentor, just a friend. You can meet them for coffee or observe them from a distance depending on the circumstances and milieu.
You can have a mirror image for any field of endeavor. There might be someone you often see at the gym who's physical fitness inspires you to your next level or a client whose business success seems within your reach if you apply yourself consciously. You might choose to emulate someone who takes care in their appearance or clothes without ostentation.
This model works for us because as human creatures we naturally mimic those around us, as in accents, clothing and custom. If we're going to find ourselves affected by our surroundings, in other words, let's choose a surrounding that has something in it that we actually want.
I challenge each of you to spend some time over the next few days and consider two things:
- Who is in your life needs to be fired?
- Identify one person that you admire and find a way to spend more time with them.
I'd love to hear from you on how this works for you and what opens up for you. Remember too that there just might be someone out there looking to your good example; who could be positively influenced by witnessing you living up to that infinite well of possibility you hold within.