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Are negative people opportunities?

In The Essence of Happiness the Dalai Lama says that when negative people enter our lives we should treat those intrusions as opportunities to practise tolerance. 

Our exercise should be to try and replace that anger with serenity. 

Even though it is hard to do, when it does happen the sense of achievement brings a smile to the face and a load off the heart. 

In Dear Didi’s column in Desi News, we often read about the stresses that family interferences cause for some readers. 

In other newspaper columns we read about serious problems caused by relatives, friends and co-workers.

Anxieties with extended family members and co-workers can cause sustained stress. 

Sometimes the person is openly hostile and at other times it may not be their exact words but how they make you feel. 

I remember many years ago when I was starting out as a newly promoted young executive I had a peer who was nasty not just to me but to a few others as well. 

We worked very hard and knew that her nitpicking stemmed from jealousy or some other oddity. 

The support we shared among team members was vital. 

We knew that this woman was a mere power-hungry irritant but her negative behaviour caused stress as it seeped into our minds. 

I found joy in my immediate family, in good friends and in our team members’ support. 

Spiritual leaders talk about ‘detachment’ – in a case like this it would mean trying to distance ourselves mentally and emotionally from the people causing the toxicity. 

But it is not always easy, especially with extended family members. 

For the sake of family peace and respect for family elders, weird behaviour from relatives is often tolerated. 

As long as it is not hostile or dangerous, we cope. 

Office hostilities are insidious and can be treacherous. 

If you encounter negative people at work try to determine if the person is harassing you because you are a minority. If you believe that you are being targeted because of a human rights violation (skin colour, ethnicity, language, religion, disability, indigenous status, gender or sexual orientation) then talk to someone you trust in Human Resources (HR) or management or get advice by calling The Human Rights Commission. 

If the person is equally nasty to other people then a chat with a trusted friend at work may help you find positive and proactive ways to deal with the issue. There is often comfort in camaraderie. However, if the negative person is just miserable without actually harassing you then a good approach would be to practise the Dalai Lama’s advice. 

Use the person’s negativity as an opportunity to practise tolerance and spiritual distancing and hopefully you too can get a weight off your shoulders, find the spring in your step and feel the lightness in your heart.

“One should not become passive and try to excuse oneself from having to take personal initiative on the grounds that everything is a result of Karma, because if one understands the concept of Karma properly one will understand that Karma means ‘action’…So what type of future will come about, to a large extent, lies within our own hands in the present. It will be determined by the kinds of initiatives that we take now.” (The Dalai Lama on living a spiritual life in The Essence of Happiness. 

• Dr Vicki Bismilla is a retired Superintendent of Schools and retired college Vice-President, Academic, and Chief Learning Officer.

Posted: Feb 2, 2019

February 2020

Centennial College

Immigration Peel Canada

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