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Day of the toxic personality

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Toxic Personality and the Inverse Bamboo Syndrome

I love the Bamboo Story. To me, the Chinese bamboo story is one of the most powerful stories about faith, patience, hope, trust, and dreams coming true. If you have never heard it then please do – you will be inspired. Today, however, I want to share about how the Chinese bamboo story can also work in reverse with a toxic personality.

Part I is a true story which examines an aspect of how a toxic personality develops, and Part II contains the Inverse Bamboo component.

Day of the toxic personality

A friend of mine phoned me up in tears the other day,Ben, where are you? I really need to chat with you.”

What’s the matter?” I asked.

I hate myself. There is no point of me being on this planet. I want to jump in front of a bus. I feel you’re the only person I can talk to about it, if you’re in Stockholm can I come talk with you?” she sobbed.

Umm, well Joanna, I’m currently having a nice drink with some awesome people from a motivational event,” I replied.

Well can I see you tomorrow?” Joanna sobbed louder.

You can see me tonight but it won’t be right now, meet me in two hours at the Mongolian in Kungsgatan,” I said.

Two hours later we met at the Mongolian. Joanna saw me and broke down, “I’m useless. What’s the point of me being on this planet?”

“Let’s go talk somewhere quiet.” I said, steering her to a booth in the restaurant.

Is there alcohol there?” Joanna asked.

Absolutely,” I replied.

Le Grand Chai, red wine, white wine
A whine with some wine

That night we talked for several hours over a bottle of wine about her life, her boyfriend, and how she had got to where she was today.

I am so selfish,” Joanna weeped. “I love my boyfriend but I can’t breathe. I’ve told him I’m seeing you tonight because I feel calm when I talking with you. I’ve explained to him that I need to sort myself out, and that you always seem to know what’s going on in my mind.”

That’s great,” I replied. What is the problem?”

I feel like I’m doing my best but it is never enough for anyone. I don’t feel I’m adding any value. I feel like what’s the point of being me?” Joanna wailed.

“Go on,” I replied.

“I’m constantly pushing myself down and giving so much to my boyfriend, but he told me I don’t really care about him or his children. I even gave them presents at Christmas but that wasn’t enough for him and he said I didn’t really love him.” She cried.

What made him say that?” I queried.

He said that it is because I won’t visit and meet his children,” she answered.Also, he doesn’t mean to be selfish, but he is and I feel like I’m becoming just as selfish as him.”

bin, basket, rubbish
Not all selfishness is waste.

The power of selfishness

After an hour of listening to Joanna’s story, I felt I had a little insight. “Joanna, you are selfish. You become like the people you hang out with. It is a universal law and you have become more and more like your boyfriend in that respect. However, you were selfish before you were with your boyfriend and by being with him you have only magnified your own selfishness.”

I continued, “You had grown so much in a previous relationship you had with a very giving man. This man had tempered your natural tendency towards being self-absorbed and many of your close friends had even commented on how awesome you were becoming, but even in that relationship you were possessive and super selfish.

I was young then and didn’t really understand how relationships worked,” Joanna replied, but he didn’t chase after me when we split up.”

“He didn’t chase after you when you split up because of the friends you hang out with,” I explained. “You become like the people you hang-out with and he felt your relationship with him was doomed because your friends are particularly destructive when it comes to relationships. Even if he had chased you, your friends would have ensured the death of your relationship with him.”

“I’ve changed now,” she exclaimed, but how does this help me?”

“In your previous relationship, the person you were becoming was a much better person than you were. Now the exact opposite has happened. You’ve become a worse image of yourself because of the people you associate with, including your current boyfriend.” I responded.

I elucidated further, “In this case your selfishness is not a bad selfishness. In a relationship you need to be number one. But no matter how much you love your boyfriend, you cannot be number one because his kids must have priority. He is better off dating a single mother who understands the score and you need to be with a guy who is unencumbered. It is important to put your partner first and treat them with the same respect you expect to receive from them.”

Super heroes, xmen
If you want to be a hero. Socialise with heroes.

Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future

I moved on to the second insight about Joanna, “you also cannot let your acquaintances tell you how and who to date. Your friends, no matter how good they are to you personally, are actually quite toxic. You cannot and will never be the awesome person you were destined to be by having these people in your life.”

I concluded, “In a relationship, you need to be valued. You need to be number one. You are not and cannot be number one in this relationship and it is slowly eroding your confidence and belief in yourself. If you want to grow and become a person of value, a person of significance, you need to be with people who will support and encourage you in this endeavour. And you need to give and make other people feel significant in all your relationships, including the ones you want to be with long term.”

We talked a bit longer and suddenly the ‘Aha!’ moments appeared in Joanna’s mind. Things weren’t going to be easier tomorrow, but she is no longer in despair and a plan has begun to formulate in her mind. This isn’t the end of the story and I met up with Joanna a week later to check up on her. When we met again, I explained the Inverse Bamboo Story.

So that’s part one of the story, dear reader. Do share your perspectives in the comments below and find out what happens in part two – The Inverse Bamboo Syndrome.

My publisher likes me to share the point of my stories and how they relate to financial freedom, so here are a few learning points I wanted to share.

  • You become like the people around you. Joanna stayed too long in her relationship and became more and more selfish until one day she no longer liked what she saw in the mirror.
  • Your friends may be great to you, but if they have a toxic personality, then, over time you will develop a toxic personality. From the stories of many successful people, a toxic personality severely limits how high you can go.
  • If you want people to love and respect you, you need to show love and respect to others. That which you give out will be returned to you. This is especially important in relationships, where successful couples treat each other equally.
  • The word freedom in ‘Financial Freedom’ is about being free. Free to follow your passion, free to become and evolve to be the best person you can be. People with toxic personalities can never enable you to be free, no matter how good or nice a person with a toxic personality may be to you. There are many rich people who have no freedom at all.

Still not convinced about the freedom of associating with and being a great person?  Then check out seven stories on what you can achieve by being with and becoming an awesome personality.

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