By Guy Finley
Those with whom we assemble, we soon resemble!
This simple old saying hides a deep truth that can enlighten and empower every aspect of our lives:
Who we are—our very essence—is continually being transformed by the company we keep.
Stated differently, when we keep the company of what is dark and discouraging, our lives can’t help but be dragged downward. And when we keep the company of what is light and bright, our lives get lighter and brighter.
This idea might sound a little simplistic at first, but its power soon becomes evident when we put it to use in the quest to realize our highest aspirations. The key lies in understanding that this principle is active on multiple levels at once. For instance, when referring to “the company we keep,” we, of course, mean the people we spend time with every day—family, friends, co-workers, etc.
However, on a deeper and more important level, “company” can also refer to the thoughts and feelings moving within us in any given moment.
Have you ever been home alone, in a fine mood, enjoying a meal perhaps, only to find yourself bored or depressed an hour later? That’s a perfect example of the effect of hanging out with the wrong interior friends. When we are unconscious to the operation of our minds, any vagrant thought or feeling that passes through us has the power to strike up a conversation and drag us into its dark circle of influence.
But just as it’s possible for us to keep bad interior company that pulls us down, it is also possible to keep positive inner company that works to raise us up in any moment we choose to remember it. This not only means that we can choose not to get dragged down when we are alone, but it also means that we can choose not to get dragged down when we find ourselves in the presence of negative people, as well.
How encouraging! When life places us in a situation where a run-in with someone is inevitable—for example, at work, with a family member, in a store—we can choose to keep the company of good and true interior friends who can help keep us from falling into negative states.
And therein lies the key: when we remember that keeping the company of negative interior friends is a choice, instead of an obligation, we are free to keep the company of compassion instead of anger, generosity instead of greed, and patience instead of anxiety.
Building on this idea, let’s look at four common types of people that can be identified by the four prevailing dark states that inhabit them. By learning to recognize and understand the interior workings of these four types of “toxic people,” we gain important insight into what is dark and limiting inside of us. In this way, we begin the process of liberation from everything inside of us that stands in the way of knowing peace, happiness, success, and love.
These negative spirits live to drag up old painful events and then revel in the anger, resentment, or bitterness that such unhappy memories hold. Stay away from any spirit, in others or in yourself, that wants you to dive into some suffering over what happened in any past moment.
2. Mud Slingers
These malicious spirits pull themselves up by pulling others down. They love to gossip, criticize, judge, and denigrate anyone who ever had the misfortune of spending time with them. The only loyalty these denizens of the unconscious worlds have is to their own pain, which they feed by involving everyone they can in their mud slinging.
3. Swamp Dwellers
There is a group of mired spirits that thrive on low vibrations and that require a human instrument to play out their endless dark dissonance. Easily recognizable, these misfortunate forces serve up dreadful mental pictures of past and future events for the sake of the unnatural reactions they produce. Ignore these corrupted spirits, and they must take their evil speculations elsewhere.
4. Life Haters
These dark spirits perpetuate their hold on the human soul by resisting the beautiful gifts of life. They trick us into commiserating with their complaining, cruelty, and irritation because, without our unconscious consent, these chronically conflicted spirits can’t spread their poison.
Just as harmful viruses require a human host to exist and thrive, so do negative states require the unconscious consent of human beings to carry out their dark mission. For what power does a negative thought have other than the power to convince a person to do its bidding? The answer is none!
When we begin to consciously withdraw our consent to associate with toxic people and the toxic thoughts and feelings inside of us, we leave them with no place to thrive. Our real inner work is to sweep clean the places in ourselves where such creatures reside, which in turn brightens our life and the lives of everyone around us.
Begin today, this very moment, to withdraw any permission you have unknowingly granted these dark spirits to be in your life. Do not judge yourself or those around you in whom these misdirected forces are active, but, instead, come awake and refuse to spend one more moment of your life lending your precious life force to their dark purposes.
This powerful, positive action will change your life. As you begin to refuse to consort with what is dark, you’ll find that you begin to attract what is light, bright, and cheerful. Your relationships will deepen, your professional life will take on new vigor and freshness, and the whole of your days will begin to resemble the radiant life that you have deliberately chosen as your conscious companion.
Guy Finley is the best-selling author of more than forty books and audio albums on self-realization, including The Secret of Letting Go and his newest work The Seeker, The Search, The Sacred: Journey to the Greatness Within, and is the founder and director of Life of Learning Foundation, a nonprofit center for self-study located in southern Oregon. For more on Guy, visit his website and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
*Photo by radioher.