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Some time ago I read a book by Buzz Aldrin. He says something like show me the five people closest to you and I’ll show you what kind of person you will be. 

At the time I didn’t think much of it. I had various circles of friends, and work buddies. I was young, climbing the corporate ladder and altogether in a different zone. There were different sets of people that I spent time with. Some were artistic, some were ambitious, some were emotional. It was a good balance and I managed to walk my own line straight to being a start in the corporate world. 

Then things began to change. I moved to a private family office and eventually started working really long hours – almost 14 to 16 hours a day. At the end of the week, I was simply too exhausted to see anyone or anything. All I wanted to do was to spend time with my family. Naturally, I lost all but the few close friends that I had left. 

I wasn’t too sad about the whole situation. I was happy to have few people around me who genuinely cared and who I cared about. 

Gradually though, I realized that people I was left with were loving, caring people, but not the most enthusiastic about life. Their view of the world was very narrow and negative. It’s not that they didn’t encourage my ventures…they always did because they were nice people. But, at the same time, their constant thoughts about how nothing ever works out plagued my mind. I started to think the same way. 

That’s when I realized that I’d never been in this situation before… surrounded solely by people who thought that life was all about succumbing to your circumstances. They genuinely believe that there is nothing one can do to improve their life. 

I’m a person who is never without hope. I’ve had a tough life and I’m one of those people who always have to work hard to be rewarded. Nothing really comes easily to me. But i don’t mind that because I know that when I do work hard, I do get positive results. That’s why I’ve always managed to maintain a certain level of optimism. 

Unfortunately, Buzz Aldrin was right, and in my case the negativity that surrounded me started to creep into my soul. Even I started to falter. I started to believe that  I am a victim of my circumstances and nothing will change that.

Now I realize that it’s poor form to blame others for my troubles but that’s not exactly what I’m doing. I’m not blaming anyone. All I’m saying is that I recognize how the negativity of people affects me. This is the point where most articles will tell you that these are toxic people who will suck the lifeblood out of you and you should just drop them like a hot stone. 

But, hey I can’t do that. First of all, they are not exactly toxic people. They are good people and they genuinely care about me. In their own way, they try very hard to support my efforts. It’s not their fault that they just can’t believe that they can change their circumstances. They can’t help the way they are, but that doesn’t mean that you just give up on people. 

Secondly, people are the way they are and I can’t change the core of a person. Which makes me think that my core cannot change either. And at my core, I’m an optimistic person. I’ve always believed any of us can achieve good things, if we only try. So why not try to the opposite and try to see if some of your positivity will rub off on them. 

Finally, compartmentalize. It’s easier said than done but, often enough we can simply put things in a box. If you know where your feelings of negativity stem from, you also know how to control it. Limit your life conversations with those friends. Maybe the best way to keep the friendship is to keep things light. That way they can still remain your friend without exactly bringing you down. 

One thing’s for sure. If your friend really is in trouble, you need to get her help. Yes some people are simply negative but, for many it may be a deeper problem, something far more serious. So dumping people because an article says they are toxic is not always the answer. You need to look beyond that.