Law 10: Infection: Avoid The Unhappy & Unlucky
The 48 Laws Of Power Summary Series
“You can die from someone else’s misery — emotional states are as infectious as diseases. You may feel you are helping the drowning man but you are only precipitating your own disaster. The unfortunate sometimes draw misfortune on themselves; they will also draw it on you. Associate with the happy and fortunate instead.”
Transgression Of The Law
In the 1840's there was a famous dancer by the name of Lola Montez. Lola’s life can be summed up as one giant catastrophe after another. Everybody she touched ended up either dead, broke or ostracized from their community. She decided her mission would be to woo and conquer men who were prestigious, successful and powerful — consider her the 1850’s version of what we know today as a ‘gold digger’.
The first man she married went by the name of Alexandria Dujarier, owner of one of the largest newspapers in France. They eventually fell in love which is when Dujarier life began to slide downhill. His fortunes in business changed and his influential friends began to avoid him.
Lola and Dujarier later had their first quarrel about a party that Dujarier would not allow Lola to attend. Hopelessly drunk at this party he insulated an influential drama critic Jean-Baptiste Rosemond de Beauvallon, perhaps because of something the critic had said about Lola. The following morning Beauvallon challenged him to a duel. Beauvallon was one of the best pistol shots in France. Dujarier tried to apologize but it was too late. The duel took place and Dujarier was shot and killed. Ending the life of one of the most promising young men of Paris society.
Lola left Paris and found herself in Munich where she decided to woo and conquer King Ludwig of Bavaria. She leveraged her femininity to attract his attention, which worked as planned. Ludwig couldn’t resist Lola. He’s love and affection for her grew day by day as he showered her with lavish gifts and land. The King’s entourage tried to wake him up to the dangers of the affair, but those who criticized Lola were summarily fired.
Lola, drunk on the power began using any excuse to punish the citizens for any small quarrel she chose. Lola had garnered an infectious image that poisoned Ludwig’s. The citizens of Baveria began to question and even turn on him. Regardless, Ludwig made Lola his ‘countess’ as she began meddling in politics, even going as far as to advise Ludwig on his policies — something she was not experienced or skilled in at all as she treated the ministers with disdain. Tension rose further within the city and as a result, riots broke out throughout the realm. A once peaceful land was virtually in the grip of civil war, people everywhere were chanting ‘Rause mit Lola!” (‘Out with Lola’) By February 1848 Ludwig was finally unable to withstand the pressure. With great disappointment he ordered Lola to leave Baveria immediately. For the next five weeks the Baverians’ wrath was turned against their formerly beloved King. One month later he was forced to abdicate.
There are many other stories alike to this that continue through Lola’s journey. I will briefly list them without the minutia of the details.
The next man she encountered was a promising young English officer named George Trafford Heald. He fell under her spell and they got married. Shortly after the officer ended up losing his position in the Army. Ostracized from English society he moved to Portugal where he lived in poverty. After a few months his short life ended in a boating accident.
Lola moved to California where she met and married a man named Pat Hull. Their relationship was as sorry as all the others and she left Hull for another man. He took to drink and fell into a deep depression that lasted until he died four years later.
Victim 5: Herself
At age 41, Lola gave away her cloths and finery and turned to God. She toured America lecturing on religious topics alike to a nun. She died 2 years later in 1861.
Lola attracted these men through the force of a character using ‘wiles’: “devious and cunning stratagems employed in manipulating or persuading to get what she wanted”. This is how she kept her lovers engaged and enthralled. Each man was seduced and sucked in to this whirlwind of emotion she conjured.
They would find themselves drawn into her problems, but their emotional attachment to her would make them want to help her.
These types of relationships will always exist. Naturally we feel drawn to help those close to us, whether this be a friend, spouse or family member. While it’s clearly important to be there for those you care and love it’s those who feign having your self interest in mind that you must be wary of. These are one’s who appear to be play the ‘innocent victim’ while placating on your emotions for aid. In the process they make their misfortune and misery your own by becoming dependent on you forming some type of “parasitism’ partnership. In the process you are brought down with them by a supplicating mentality to ‘help all no matter what’. While this may sound cold and shrewd it’s a choice that has to be made — most are unable to continue to flourish while in this type of relationship because of how challenging it is to stay detached and objective.
“Once the lover identified with them [her problems], he was lost, He would find himself embroiled in quarrels”
This is Alike to what happened to each of Lola’s lovers:
The infecting character type is not restricted to women; it has nothing to do with gender. It stems from an inward instability that radiates outward, drawing disaster upon itself. You could spend a lifetime studying the pathology of infecting characters, but don’t waste your time — just learn the lesson. When you suspect you are in the presence of an infecter, don’t argue, don’t try and help, don’t pass the person on to your friends, or you will become enmeshed. Flee the infecters presence or suffer the consequences.
Keys To Power
Those misfortunate among us who have been brought down by circumstances beyond their control deserve all the help and sympathy we can give them. But there are others who are not born to misfortune or unhappiness, but who draw it upon themselves by their destructive actions and unsettling effects on others.
The key is distinguishing the difference between the two. Whether you’re interacting with someone new such as making a new acquaintance, or starting a new relationship, it would be wise to thoroughly understand the individuals character; and be aware of how this person will uplift you or slowly infect and destroy you. I use the dramatic word of ‘destroy’ on purpose. Of course, you will probably not end up dying like many of the individuals in the previous stories. But the power of emotion is infectious and what I am referring to is a metaphorical death of character and vitality for life. If there is any truth in Jim Rohn’s quote ‘you are the average of the five people you spend the most time around’, then should’t you be extremely cautious and selective of who that five is?
So how do these self destructive habits occur and go on to poison others? Greene provides an answer:
“The reason is simple — humans are extremely susceptible to the moods, emotions and even the ways of thinking of those with whom they spend their time. The incurably unhappy and unstable have a particularly strong infecting power because their characters and emotions are so intense. They often present themselves as victims, making it difficult at first, to see their miseries as self inflicted. Before you realise the real nature of their problems you have been infected by them.”
In one sentence: Judge by results, not by excuses or words.
Is this person simply talking about doing good in the world and helping people? Or are they actually going out their and executing their mission?By observing how one’s actions map against their intentions and words you can pretty accurately judge someone’s character, values and virtues.
Most important of all, do not take pity in these infectious characters. Do not enmesh yourself in trying to help. The infector will remain unchanged, but you will be unhinged.
The other side of the infection is equally valid, and perhaps more readily understood:
I think Greene gives us a really practical answer here: Association creates infection — whether that infection is positive or negative is up to the type of infectious character we associate with.
“Never associate with those who share your defects”
In other words, find people who share your strengths in the effort to double down on what you’re great at. At the same time, find those who possess your weakness in the form of a strength.
Before we decide to hang out with a specific friend or start a new relationship we should be self-aware enough to know our own weaknesses in an effort to avoid compiling a negative with a negative. If this person has the same weaknesses or character defects as you, than your own defects are only going to grow worse.
“If you are prone to isolation force yourself to befriend the gregarious.”
To be frank, I am prone to isolation and seclusion. I have tendencies towards being a recluse. I’m the type of person who can go long periods of time without seeing or interacting with many people. I use this space from the world to create, write, take action and think. I have had these tendencies for many years and it has honed a portion of my self-motivation to attack life.
As a consequence, other social and emotional needs of mine are put to the side as a temporary sacrifice. A large part of me is okay with that, but at the same time a large part of me isn’t okay with that. I understand how important having a close circle of positive, uplifting, successful people is. Recently I have seen myself thrive off the energy of people and actually grow to love to be around a wide variety of people and thrive in both dualities of social and isolation.
An influential musician who shares a similar commonality of ‘the recluse’ is Frank Ocean.
In world where the internet and social media owns the attention of a very large majority of our modern culture, Frank partakes in next to none of it. He does not have a FaceBook, Twitter, Snapchat, or any other social media platform. The only creative outlet he uses is Tumblr. This is the only way he communicates with the outside world. Even then, his posts are as sporadic to the amount of paparazzi photographs taken of him.
For someone with millions of fans worldwide. This is rarely seen today.
Frank keeps to himself. The HipHop community often joked about his disappearance from the face of the earth as the world waited 4 years for his second studio album titled ‘Blond’.
Waiting 4 years for a second album is almost unheard of today.
Clearly, isolation works for him to hone his creativity. Frank was able to craft what many believe to be a brilliant album — one of the best of 2016, partly as a result of those conditions he created for himself.
It has worked for me to create all these writings you see on Medium and videos you see on YouTube.
Do I think this is sustainable in the long term?
For me, I don’t think so. I believe my growth is limited in part by my tendency to isolate myself. Hence the reason I would be especially cautious about associating with people who share that same ‘isolation’ character trait as me. I encourage other’s to reflect on their own traits and be cautious.