Sweetening a Sour Apple
By Madisyn Taylor
When dealing with negative people, we can choose not to respond to their behavior and allow our positive behavior be an example.
Because life requires that we interact with different personalities, it is not uncommon for us to encounter a situation where there is one person whose behavior may negatively impact the experiences of others. Someone who is loud and crass can interrupt the serenity of those who come together to practice peace. A disruptive worker can cause rules to be imposed that affect their colleagues’ quality of work and their professional lives. A team member who is pessimistic or highly critical may destroy the morale of his or her fellow members. And one “bad apple” in our personal life can be a potent distraction that makes it difficult to focus on the blessings we have been given and the people who love us.
There may always be people in our lives who take it upon themselves to create disruption, foster chaos, stamp out hope, and act as if they are above reproach – even when, in doing so, they put a blight on their own experiences. But we don’t need to allow their negativity and callousness to sour our good mood. Often, our first impulse upon coming head-to-head with a bad apple is to express our anger and frustration in no uncertain terms. However, bad apples only have the power to turn our lives sour if we let them.
If we can exercise patience and choose not to respond to their words or actions, we will significantly limit the effect they are able to have on us and our environment. We can also attempt to encourage a bad apple to change his or her behavior by letting our good behavior stand as an example.
Most of us may be familiar with two instruments. One is a thermometer, which has mercury in it. The mercury keeps jumping up and down according to the surrounding temperature. The other instrument is a thermostat, found in air conditioners and refrigerators. Whatever temperature the thermostat sets, the surrounding temperature also becomes the same. Great saints, sages and masters were like the thermostat. They never went to perfect the world. Instead, they put all their time and effort in perfecting themselves. Thus they became trail-blazers, charted their own path – they became thermostats. They set positive examples and people followed them and tried to emulate them.
The choice is ours, whether to remain a thermometer and keep jumping up and down to the negative surroundings or to become a thermostat and set our own positive standards for others to emulate. Being a thermostat can have a positive impact on bad apples among us.
Some of these bad apples may simply be suffering from a condition called ASS – Attention Seeking Syndrome. If our bad apple is simply hoping to attract notice, they may come to realize that receiving positive attention is much more satisfying than making a negative impression.
While we may be tempted to simply disassociate ourselves entirely from a bad apple, we should consider why they might be inclined to cause disturbances. Understanding their motivation can help us see that bad apples are not necessarily bad people. Though bad apples are a fact of life, minimizing the impact we allow them to have upon us is empowering, because we are not letting anyone else affect the quality of our experiences.