Some think it was Plato, others certainly not, but whoever said this seems to have had the right idea: “People are like dirt. They can either nourish you and help you grow as a person, or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die.”
Perhaps without realizing it, each of us has seen this statement lived out in our lives. Maybe you were the teenager whose parents were concerned about your choice of friends, thinking they would lead you into trouble. They were worried that the “bad dirt” you were settling into would not be the kind that nourishes. On more than one occasion you might have heard Dad or Mom intone, “Bad company corrupts good morals,” in an effort to guide you toward choosing more wholesome relationships.
As adults, the likelihood that we will be influenced by our peers into criminal or self destructive behaviors is minimal. However, some of us still gravitate toward negative people who may inflict other types of damage in our lives. How so? Well, not only are the “glass-half-empty” (negative) people NO fun to be around with their constant nagging, complaining, criticizing, gossip, or bitterness; they have no ability to lift another person’s spirits or offer encouragement when we need a boost.
Caregivers in particular, who are at risk for isolation, are very much in need of a support system that is comprised of positive people. If you’re a caregiver, please remember that avoiding the voices of discouragement—and choosing to hear the optimists—is critical for you. If you’re one who cares for a caregiver, consider how you might fulfill the function of the “good dirt” referenced above—that which nourishes and grows another person.