For the last few summers, I’ve avoided hiking in the forest for a really mundane reason. I’m horribly allergic to poison oak! A few years ago, after having several painfully uncomfortable breakouts, I decided to just stay away from it altogether.
This year, however, I was craving my summer time hikes. I decided to put fear aside, wear long pants, and simply be very careful to stay on the trail.
In the words of the angels, “Of course you can hike Ann. Just stay conscious… and stay on the path!” I laughed. The angels never waste a chance to give me a life lesson. Stay conscious and stay on the path… good words for summer hiking, and for life!
So as I set out on my first summer time forest hike in years I told the poison oak, “I don’t like you but I’ll respect you. I’ll stay on path. Please stay where you belong too!” Of course everything went just fine!
I didn’t miss the metaphor. I used to allow unkind people to pull me into the forest of their misery, rather than staying on my “path” of joy. I used to allow angry people to pull me into debates, rather than staying on the “path” of my truth. I used to allow critical people to pull me into thickets of confusion, rather than staying true to my inner compass.
In a way, those who insist on being chronically angry, fearful, critical, judgmental and unkind, are like poison oak. It’s a beautiful plant, and they are beautiful souls.
Poison oak has a right to be, and a purpose in the forest of life, and so do they. While we all have our moments, and sometimes our darker seasons of life and growth, if a person chooses to remain angry, fearful, critical, judgmental and unkind, without seeking real help, they have a right to do so… and to learn the soul-level lessons that come with it.
However, I have a right to be loving, joyful, kind, and to expect the good in life. In order for us to co-exist in peace, I must remain conscious and stay on my path…
Practically speaking, if I try to create a kind and loving interaction with these individuals, but if I cannot, I create good boundaries, leave them alone, pray for them, and send them light. I ask God to “illuminate and uplift their souls when they are open and ready.”
Here are a few pointers to “keep you on path” when someone tries to share their “poison”…
1. Remember, you both have a right to be
They can be negative. You can be positive. You don’t have to change them and they should not be allowed to sway you. Listen to their perspective, acknowledge it, thank them for sharing it, but remain quietly centered in your own, more loving, truth.
2. Remember… Poison isn’t personal
If someone is critical, mean, or nasty, its not about you. They’re hurting and trying to share their pain. I pray for them and surround them with light. Remember this phrase… “Your unkindness is not about me.” You don’t have to say it out loud. Memorize it and think it when someone is not being nice.
3. Avoid the Poison if you can
If you already know someone is going to be negative or nasty, unless you must be around them, avoid them. While that sounds obvious, sometimes pity leads us to put ourselves in toxic situations. Compassion – understanding that life’s journey is not always easy, and that everyone is learning and doing their best – is wonderful. Pity – feeling sorry for someone as if they are not a powerful soul here to learn and grow – is not.
4. Don’t Absorb the Poison
There is a mistaken notion that if you’re around someone negative you must feel it. You don’t have to… Here are a few more tricks to avoid “taking in the poison”:
Send them love – imagine your light emanating from you, embracing them, filling their aura with light.
Drain it out – Point a hand towards the floor and intend to funnel any negativity aimed out you into the ground. Go outside, put your feet in running water, etc. Use nature or intention to drain their negative, static-y energy into the ground.
Remember, they are you… – In the deeper mystical understandings, we are all one… they are a part of your human family lost in misunderstanding and lonely sense of being unloved. Even though you may have nothing to do with them, you can shut your eyes and repeat this… “I love you. I am you. Come into my light…” Either they will transform, leave you alone, or your attitude will shift to be more peaceful around them.
And… if all else fails, and you feel you’ve taken in the poison, get outdoors, take an Epsom salt bath, or put some salt in the shower. Nature nurtures and cleanses, and salt water cleanses the aura.
Above all, as the angels remind us, try to see the “poison oak” people and behaviors in your life as a gift. Bless them and learn from them. They’re really just challenging us to stay conscious and stay on the path of love and joy!