Not too long ago, I was playing a game with a friend and I was not having a good time whatsoever. The reason why is because of this individual’s toxic behavior. He was putting himself down and others. It was demoralizing. Ever since I realized that his behavior started affecting my mood and was slowly deteriorating my mental state, I started to distance myself away from him. As in, I would purposely do other things to prevent myself from playing a game with him.
Now you might consider me being rude, but I want to refer back to my first blog post on Youth to Future. Your influences are who and what you surround yourself with. If you read only personal development books, then you will improve due to the steady application of those books. If you have great mentors to guide you, then you will succeed farther in life as long as you apply their great advice to your life. Even if you do both of these things already, you need to evaluate who your friends are, because they are truly the biggest influences in your life. For example, if your friends all say a specific word such as “yo”, then I can 100% guarantee you that you are going to start saying “yo”. Humans are naturally wired to imitate the people that we are around. Therefore, you need to evaluate who you call your peer.
You become who your friends say you are
At this point in the article, you might be thinking, “but Eric, I have great mental fortitude and a lot of willpower; therefore, I won’t be affected and I won’t have to give up any of my friends.” Well, you are unfortunately wrong. Regardless of your willpower, your walls to prevent negative behavior will slowly crumble away. Your negative friends will tell you who you are and you will eventually believe it. That is not what you or I want. If you are reading this blog, then I know you want to grow as an individual, which means that you need to not surround yourself with negative friends.
Instead of negative friends, you need to maintain your true, positive friends and find the ones who will build you up. With new friends, you will become everything that your friends say who you are, someone who is successful in their life and career. One of my favorite quotes is by Jordan Peterson, a Canadian psychologist, who said, “Make Friends with people who want the best for you.” Those are the friends that you need in your life. If you do not have those friends, then you need to evaluate your list of friends and who you associate yourself with. Don’t be friends with the guy who just want to tear you down, but be friends with the guy who truly wants you to succeed and will not be full of jealousy when accomplish your goals.
Find, Increase, Limit, and Alienate
When you evaluate your friends, there are 4 categories that you need to make. These categories are pretty simple, but they are critical for you to succeed. Also, make sure you judge your friends fairly, because it is easy to overlook certain facts about specific friends. But before I list out the categories, I want to note that you should take everything in steps. Do not rush into everything, it has to be gradual to ensure that you will not be shell-shocked nor others. However, I say this, but you can go completely cold turkey if you want (It is just not my recommend strategy).
- Find people that you want to associate yourself with. These people are your potential friends. If there is someone in your class or at your work that you want to be friends with, then befriend them. It does not matter if they are younger or older than you. You want to be friends with them because you can support each other and build each other up.
- Identify your current friends that you should increase the amount of time you spend with them. There is a very good chance that you already have a couple of positive friends who want nothing but the best for you. If you have these friends, then spend more time with them. You will notice that their great behavior will rub off on you.
- Limit your time with friends who are in the middle. Because you are focusing on your personal development, you need to limit how much time you are spending with people who might not be that great to be around. Bringing it back to my early example about my situation, my friend is a great guy, but it is hard to be around him for an extended period of time.
- Alienate your absolutely toxic and negative friends. This is probably the hardest category; because it is easier to find new friends then it is to completely cut off old friends. This is saying something! However, you do not need to be their savior. If your only reasoning on why you are friends with a specific individual is because you want to help them be a better person, then you need to stop it. Sure you could possibly help them, but people do not change unless they want to. Let that person come to you if they really want help. Even then, you need to figure out who you need to alienate so that you can improve yourself.
All of this will be difficult, but your friends are the major influences in your life. As I mentioned earlier, you need to take things in gradual steps. One strategy is by first filling your schedule with slots and meetings with people who will better for you. It could be hanging out with your new positive friends, meeting with a mentor, reading a personal development book, etc. By doing this, there is an activity that is keeping you away from the friends that you need to limit or alienate. Next, decrease your time with your toxic friends. It will be difficult to always have a legitimate excuse for why you cannot spend time with your negative friends; therefore, you need to stand firm when limiting your time with these individuals. Finally, you need to cut off the friends that need to be alienated. Even though all of this will be difficult, it is for your greater good. If you listen to any successful individual, they will probably tell you that they have had to separate themselves from toxic friends in order for themselves to succeed.
It will be difficult, but you will rise higher
Your friends are the biggest influences in your life, which means that you need to choose them carefully. If you want your life to improve, then you need to have the 4 categories: find, increase, limit, and alienate. This is critical for your success. I understand if this will be difficult. I have had to do all of this before and I continue to do so. It will be hard, but I guarantee that your life will become so much better. A huge weight will be lifted off of your shoulders and you will notice how your biggest influence will build you up instead of bash you down.