We’re lucky enough to be the custodians of an almost 200 year old house. There’s always something to do and a few weeks ago it was tackling ivy.

I went at it with gusto, filling several dumpy bags and making numerous trips to the tip. ‘Yep, me again’.

Whilst hacking for Britain, I noticed there was an abundance of the wandering weed in my apple tree. But at the time I had no idea just how much; it alone resembled a completely whole green tree.

What I hadn’t seen (and any gardener worth their salt would have done) was that the invasive ivy had covered half the apple tree.

Fast forward two weeks. The remaining ivy has died and taken most of the apple branches with it.

You can see a picture of it here on my little-used Instagram account.

Negative people can be like ivy – sneaking in to your life, infecting you, covering you, blending in, taking away the air and light;  by the time you’ve spotted it…

A friend of mine wrote a great piece on LinkedIn about when the right time is to fire.

I’d take it further.

Cull your friends (and even family?).

Culling people out of your life may feel dramatic; but like my poor apple tree, if you don’t, they may just get you.

We always love your comments.

Should you cull negative people out of your life?

If so, how do you do it?

Can you change negative people?

Am I being too simplistic?

What if it’s a close family member who’s the negative one?

And, gardeners, how do you save an apple tree?

Please leave a comment below.

Be Brilliant!



  1. September 5th 2019 by Sarah Kelly

    You can’t tell people to change their behaviour and expect it to work , all you can do is change yourself , your approach to them and / or the environment around them and see how they adapt/change their behaviour as a consequence …Ultimately thoughts and emotions drive behaviour and consequences …..

  2. September 5th 2019 by Lou

    This so true I didn’t realise how someone who I was close to had stunted my growth.
    We’re still close but I had to make a specific stand about a disagreement and stick to my guns.
    The dynamics have changed a lot which I’m not happy about. However I am happy that I feel I can breathe again and that I have grown in my own self esteem.

  3. September 5th 2019 by Jenny sparkle

    Yes! It’s important to cull/weed/choose… and always do it with the best intention and with kindness and compassion for all involved. Life’s short too short for heavy loads. Great story on this in women who run with wolves on when a mother wolf knows when to leave her cubs to fend for themselves – it’s intention (to let them thrive/survive and find their own pack) and it’s pain… but and here’s the clincher- it always trusts its instinct!

  4. September 5th 2019 by PhilH

    Thanks Michael.

    Despite this being a common suggestion in the self help literature, I think this is a bit problematic.

    Firstly, ‘culling’ and cutting ties is possibly close to the phenomenon of shaming and gaslighting. We know the silently shunned are confused – with little scope for personal growth from an honest challenge or feedback. Confronting with love is tough, I agree. John Heron’s work is helpful in this I reckon. [And sometimes it just isn’t important enough, so all best avoided.]

    Secondly, it can be that what we find tricky about someone else who we deem ‘negative’ is something we can’t handle (or see) in ourselves. I recall Russell Brand (really) saying he was trying to understand the message to himself from the feelings generated in interacting with those he didn’t much like.

    Thirdly, very few of us like being culled personally, which should make us cautious about jumping to this solution to others. “Do as you wish to be done to”.

    However, fourthly, it is necessary to step back from abuse sometimes. [Yet to confuse things, one persons tormentor and bully is another persons friend.]

    Developing positive relationships is harder than this self focused slash and burn route implies. Getting this right is complex and conflicting. So lots to ponder.

    Thanks for making me think.

  5. September 5th 2019 by Nosferatu

    Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.

    It’s our choice to think negatively or positively. Far better to encourage others to be more positive and be the bigger person.

    Always think ‘I will not let people with dirty feet wander through my mind’.

  6. September 6th 2019 by Veronica

    Yes. Toxic family members also need to go. Sometimes we hang on too long believing they will change because they are “family” but in the end you will lose not only your branches but your trunk too – the core of your own being – self respect, self esteem and self confidence. Cut them out of your life and don’t look back.

  7. September 15th 2019 by Della Judd

    I culled my own mother 20 years ago after years of emotional and physical bullying. To this day people still judge and think really? You’re own mother? But I know if she had stayed in my life she’d have been the creeping ivy. Killing my creativity and personality. Cutting her out meant I could blossom on my own with my new family. I’ve been really aware since how others infect you. And it’s important to cull them so you live your own life. Great article Michael.

add comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *