One spring morning in 2010, I woke up, ambled over to my computer, and discovered my partners cheated me out of a business.
I didn’t find out by receiving a long email. Or even an angry phone call.
Instead, it was because I checked on something that seemed slightly amiss. The day before, one of my business partners had neglected to send me an article. We had a routine. Every weekday, one partner wrote an article. The second partner edited and approved it. The third – me – sent it to our list of subscribers.
Had he forgotten?
Maybe I missed something?
First, I decided to log into our email-broadcasting software, to see if anything had been sent out, at all.
I typed in my username, password, clicked…
… and it said my login information was incorrect.
Not a rare occurrence. My fingers frequently fumble. So I tried again.
“We’re sorry, but the username and password you entered did not match our records…”
One more time. Same result.
“Wait a minute…” I thought to myself.
I typed in the URL for our shopping cart software system. Then, I tried logging in there.
For the past few weeks, one of my business partners and I were getting more pissed at each other. A couple days earlier, he tried to schedule a phone call. I was getting sick of holding meetings about meetings, so I wrote I wasn’t interested.
“Interesting,” was his reply.
I didn’t think much of it. Later that evening, during a seated meditation, I briefly saw him, facing me. He sort of puked my way. And it was gone. I didn’t think much of that, either. But I wondered…
… and that morning, I figured things out.
He changed all the passwords.
And he already controlled the bank account and merchant account. He’d drawn up the corporate papers.
I considered my options for about 2 seconds. And I decided to start over, and go on with my life in a separate direction. After one half-hearted attempt to patch things up – that’s what I did. My two former-partners kept all my advertising copy, the sales structures I designed, customer base, business assets, and ongoing revenue. I never visited the website again. I have no idea what happened to either of them. My best guess – aided by brief asides from mutual acquaintances – is that the business bobbed up and down like something strewn into a river, before gently sinking into nothing.
Many people write and talk about “firing negative people from your life.”
I’ve said many things to that effect.
That’s wrong, in a subtle way.
If you’re stuck with an asshole in your life, there’s a reason.
You’re either an asshole too, or a victim. Or both.
It’s true that you should fire assholes from your life.
But, chances are, you won’t. Or, if you do, you’ll get a replacement for the open position, in record time.
Here’s how I know this:
I was a terrified, ego-driven, asshole. So guess what I attracted? An odd soup of predators, idiots, victims, and a whole slew of people who, let’s say, “lacked conscious awareness” to a similar degree as me. It was tricky to see at first, because everyone was so different. But there was a subtle regression to the mean, in terms of everyone’s collective development.
Unless someone bounced away from me, they were just as fucked up as me – in their own unique way. For the vast majority of the human population, this is the social dynamic. At least, after puberty. From then on, most people stake their psychological claim, and attract their peers. It may not be smooth sailing from there, but it’s choppiness within the same ocean.
But I was initiating internal changes. And stepping into different waters, to continue the metaphor.
Several months before this business break-up, I began practicing an intense form of meditation.
I’ll tell the story another time, but here’s the short version: It almost wiped away my crippling, suicidal depression, and began waking me up in ways I’d never predicted or even considered.
Little did I realize, my life would pluck apart and rearrange itself.
First, a random event forced me out of the condo I’d been living in, for almost four years. Weeks later, the same thing happened with my business with two partners. Then, a few weeks after that, the same thing happened again with a business group I was a part of.
And yet… I didn’t feel like I’d tumbled into some bad patch in life. Instead, I felt more alive and awake than ever before.
Because I’d been enlivening myself and awakening myself more than ever before.
As a result, I didn’t need to fire any negative people from my life.
Instead, they fired me!
Because the resonance between us, evaporated.
This is why “firing negative people from your life” is wrong, in a subtle way. When you work on yourself, you don’t need to pay much heed to getting rid of bad influences. At the proper time, they’ll bounce off you. You might need to nudge the ball rolling. Maybe.
I’ll get to the specifics of nudging in a moment. First, here’s how to work on yourself:
- Daily meditation
There are as many ways to meditate as there are to exercise. Probably more. Sample as many different kinds as possible to find one that’s a match for your disposition, at this time and place. Sitting and observing your thoughts… standing and quieting your mind… deep breathing… guided visualization… affirmations… chanting… slow walking… tai chi… chi gung… nei gung… yoga… HIIT… push hands…
… dive in and do one. Every day.
- Study and observe your own psychology.
The United States is suffering from an epidemic of “triggering.” I rarely heard that word until about a year ago. It seems similar to getting rattled, except “triggering” has a sinister edge to it. Like, “if you upset me, you’re pulling my trigger, and I’m going to shoot you.”
People who get off on getting triggered, and riding the wave of feeling simultaneously superior and mentally unchained, are beyond hope. But if you’re someone who just gets rattled too often – observe why. What throws you off? You’ll find that merely observing, begins to dissolve its power and expands your comfort zone.
- Hide your work on yourself.
If shitty people surround you, don’t fertilize them. Don’t give them a reason to poke at you, express their doubts, or sabotage you. Don’t tell anyone about good stuff you’ve got cooking.
Now onto nudging…
If you’re working on yourself and making progress, the dissonance between you and negative people will push hard on your behalf. And it can push harder than you.
If you’re at a party, and you’re trying to avoid eating chips and soda, some “friends” might goad you into breaking your willpower. They’ll tease you. They’ll throw fake concern your way. You might give in. either way, it won’t be fun.
But if you’ve been meditating and working on your psychology, and the wrong foods for you no longer lure you (a common result) then your “friends” will sense it. Maybe not even consciously. But they’ll just know you can’t be tempted anymore. They won’t even try. If they make any feeble attempt, you can just shrug your shoulders and shake your head.
That’s the nudge.
Same if you’re starting a business. Or embarking on a new career. When you’re changing internally, they’ll see it in your eyes. Chances are, you won’t know because of what they say. Instead, they’ll just stay out of your way…
… or support you, because maybe they’ve been changing internally, as well. It’d be sad if you pushed away true friends.
No need to fire those who try to hold you back. Keep working on yourself. Eventually, they’ll either shut up or fire themselves.