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People who do damage

04 January 2013

A SIMPLE New Year prayer: "O Lord, help me avoid the right people in 2013."

People can damage your health. I recently saw a woman whose mother had been to stay for five days: by the time she left, from being a cheerful sociable optimist my friend had become tetchy and closed up, and looked ten years older.

Some people are energy-sappers: when they are off sick for a couple of days, everyone in the office feels better. When they come to stay, it is the "raw fish" rule: "More than two days, and things begin to stink."

So, who will be good for you this year, and who won't? Here are some creatures you may recognise, adaptable to various environments.

Henry Hindsight. Always there after the event to tell you what you should have done: "You see where you went wrong, don't you?" A depressed soul, only able to function where there is failure. P.S. Do not bring your successes or happiness to Henry; he won't know what to do with them.

Chill-out and Move-on. Two self-helpy souls who get through life by avoiding reality rather than facing it. They say "Just move on," because that is easier than facing difficult things. They also say that money is not important to them - but do not expect them to pay for the meal.

Seamus. Genuinely scary figure. "If only people knew you as you really are," he says, "they wouldn't like you at all." Seamus stirs shame in you, the constant feeling that you are not good enough, that there is something wrong. A killer whale is a kinder companion.

Chris the Consultant. Found on office-training days, facilitating discussions that lead nowhere except to a desperate longing for the coffee break. Says things such as: "Business opportunities are like buses: there's always another one coming." He loves "blue-sky thinking", "singing from the same hymn sheet", and saying "I believe in people" - at least, the ones who agree with him.

Dee Straction: You are talking to Dee in the pub: "Hi, honey, great to see you," she says - but she is only half talking to you. She answers her phone while you are in mid-sentence, watches out for someone more interesting, and keeps checking her Facebook page. (By the way, she called you "honey" because she has forgotten your name.)

But here is someone you will want to meet: Sunny. She is on your side. It does not mean she will always tell you what you want to hear, but she has got no agenda other than your well-being. She listens, gently holds your jagged edges when they appear, and sees the good in you that you had lost sight of, and the genius that you never knew you had.

I hope you have a very happy 2013; and for a final wish, instead of "Go well", "Know well."



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