Whether we like it or not, we are heavily influenced by the people closest to us.
Our friends, family members, and coworkers all leave their mark on us in subtle ways. You may not realize it, but the people around you affect the decisions you make, the mannerisms in which you behave, and the mindset you adopt.
Understanding this offers the opportunity to design your environment for the best possible chance at success and happiness. But it also reveals the dark possibility that your inner circle of loved ones is doing you more harm than good.
The legendary motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, used to say, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Take a moment to reflect on this. Who are the five people closest to you? Are they positive, uplifting, and loving individuals who support you? Or are they negative and unpleasant, draining you of your life force, constantly criticizing or putting you down?
Having Meniere’s disease is hard enough. No one needs the added headache of a destructive support network. If your inner circle is less than ideal, I know how difficult it can be.
You don’t get to choose your family and often it can feel like you’re stuck. If a disruptive family member is unavoidable, the best advice I can offer is to establish clear boundaries and clear communication. Let them know you love them, but that you are struggling. Ask them to keep a positive tone and avoid criticism around you. Let them know that it will help you heal. It’s strange, but sometimes people don’t even realize the cycle of negativity they’re caught up in until it’s pointed out to them.
If possible, minimize the time you spend with family members who bring you down.
“Let go of the people who dull your shine, poison your spirit, and bring you drama. Cancel your subscription to their issues.” – Dr. Steve Maraboli
Fortunately, we can choose our friendships. But unfortunately, it can be incredibly difficult to cut ties with a long standing friend.
I look back at my life and wonder how I wasted so much time and energy on bad friendships. It’s like I was a magnet for destructive people. I realize now that I was very much a people pleaser in my younger years, always trying to make everyone happy, but it was always at my own expense. It’s a terrible trade-off to make.
Recently I had to cut ties with an old friend. We got along great for years and he had really helped me through some difficult times in the past. But something had changed, and every time I was with him I would leave distraught. I was filled with stress and anxiety after spending any amount of time with him and my symptoms started to get worse. The word “toxic” would flash across my consciousness.
When I finally cut ties, it didn’t go well. In fact, it blew up in my face in a spectacular fashion. He didn’t understand. First he got defensive, but then he got angry, really angry. My response wasn’t much better. I may be a reformed people pleaser, but I still HATE confrontation. I pretty much shut down emotionally throughout the exchange. He stormed off in a rage.
“Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed” – Friedrich Nietzsche
But once the dust settled, the relief was palpable. I wish it could have played out differently, but I started to feel so much better.
If a friendship or relationship is causing you distress, you need to get out. Like a band-aid, rip it off fast. It hurts more initially, but the pain subsides much faster.
You deserve to be happy, supported, and treated with respect.
Make sure to choose your five people wisely.
Be proud to be the average of those closest to you.