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5 Kinds of People I Don’t Trust

6 months ago / by Sweta Vikram

These are who suck the vitality and positivity out of you


I am not that Indian who can solve complicated mathematical equations. But I am that Indian who has very strong gut instincts. It takes me less than a minute to gauge a person’s energy and intentions. As a writer, I am interested in people and curious about human beings. As someone getting a doctorate in Ayurveda, my core area of focus is mental health. The brain and human behavior fascinate me.

I’m not sure how or when I intentionally started to read people or became curious about what they weren’t telling and showing. What I do know is that coming from the Indian culture, I wasn’t satisfied with the personality barometer test used to define people as good or bad. Extroverts were labeled as good, and introverts as bad. The ones who manipulated and exploited people’s weaknesses was seen as those who gets us, while the honest person earned the label of battameez. You get my drift.

Kinds of energy

Even as a kid, I understood the concept of energy. Energy exchange impacts us. We feel energized or exhausted depending on who we spend time with. When my parent’s friends or extended family visited us, the home felt lit and lighter. I saw how all our moods changed. Smiles and laughter occupied spaces in our hearts. But then some people brought darkness and heaviness with them. Whether they realized it or not, the intensity of the gathering went up a 100 notches and people walked around on eggshells.

Third category: A few people showed up inauthentically. They presented a version of themselves they wanted others to see, but they were nothing like the image they portrayed. But in Indian families, we don’t (or at least we didn’t in the 80s) acknowledge the discomfort.

My close friends and cousins will always check with me what I think of any person we know. Their energy, their vibe, their intention. Basically, do I trust them? Do I believe they are who they pretend to be?

The ones who try too hard to hide their truth

I am paraphrasing author Roxanne Gay here, but she once said in an interview that she is a feminist who gives other women a voice. But she also dances to rap music. I felt that. No one can be “good” all the time. There is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in each one of us, and who we feed takes the larger form. Most of us aren’t sociopaths, care about others, and exhibit socially appropriate behavior. But it’s only human to have polarizing tastes. I don’t trust people who fake a calm persona and pretend to be unfettered always. It’s humanly impossible to be good all the time. For me, the inauthenticity begs the question: What and who are you hiding?

The ones who are positivity robots

I am all for gratitude, optimism, and positive thinking. Yoga and Ayurveda teach us that the only thing we have control over are our thoughts. But it’s the excessive positivity that I find frightening because it excludes the genuine human experience. Humans are meant to practice a range of emotions. But when people dismiss any negative thoughts or pretend everything is fine or act unrealistic about their current situation or feign gratitude or count their blessings even while bleeding … they are suppressing themselves. Toxic positivity can do us a lot more harm than the negativity itself.

The ones who give you a sense of unease

There is an older man in his 60s who happens to be a part of my professional network. I unhappily run into him at certain gatherings, but I keep my distance. I can’t put my finger on what it is, but his presence feels more depleting rather than renewing. He pretends to be spiritual and polite to women’s faces. He doesn’t talk much. But he always, deceitfully, tries to find out what the other “successful” women in the group are doing. If he perceives you as a professional threat, he becomes condescending and makes nasty remarks that reveal only his deep-rooted insecurities. He has a way of riling up women and making them feel they are wrong in being ambitious. Ayurveda would describe this man in vridhavastha (old age). For a person who has already lived two-thirds of his life, it’s sad to witness the exhibition of immaturity, narcissism, and jealousy in the last leg of his time on earth.

The ones who don’t have a single friend

Research tells us that having strong friendships can improve both our emotional and physical health. I am not referring to hanging out with a wide circle of friends or doing 500 person parties all the time. A few people or a person who is there for you and vice-versa. Friendships give us a sense of belonging in this otherwise busy world. Friends tell us right from wrong. Not having a single friend (unless there is a mental health issue that prevents you from being able to make connections) speaks volumes. When someone tells me that they don’t have a single friend or everyone disappoints them or that they’d rather be home than waste time on other humans or constantly criticize every person they know, my mind goes into alert and self-protection mode.

The ones who abandon where they come from

One of my aunts said something two decades ago that has stayed with me:

“A person who can’t be his mother’s, or a man who wants to erase everything about his roots, how can he be trusted?”

She was referring to a friend of the family who cut ties with his mom, all the siblings, and anything to do with India after he moved to the U.S. He finds fault with everyone and the motherland. I know what you are thinking; everyone has familial issues Maybe that’s the case here. My response would be that there must be that one person whom he can tolerate in the family. Perhaps one memory of India that’s not toxic?

If a person finds faults with everything that represents his past and the people in it, it’s a red flag for me. He won’t visit his 85-year-old aging mom with whom he has had no apparent squabble, but he will spend all his free time with his Caucasian wife’s family. He doesn’t eat Indian food, but he has willingly embraced American traditions and relinquished any traces of his upbringing. How do you believe a man who is so biased and imbalanced?

What are the clearest signs of an untrustworthy person according to you?

We must be willing to be completely ordinary people, which means accepting ourselves as we are without trying to become greater, purer, more spiritual, more insightful. If we can accept our imperfections as they are, quite ordinarily, then we can use them as part of the path. But if we try to get rid of our imperfections, then they will be enemies, obstacles on the road to our ‘self-improvement’ ~ Chogyam Trungpa