The rags to riches entrepreneur Jim Rohn famously said "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with". This is a great concept to consider if life is not looking how you want it to look. Though we deal almost exclusively in this column with self-responsibility - all the internal choices we make to create a life we love, and that our destiny really does lie in our own hands - it can be useful to periodically look outside ourselves to the influences around us.
If you surround yourself with negative people it's significantly harder to live a positive life. If you surround yourself with people who do not believe in achieving their own dreams, you are less likely to achieve your own. If you associate with people who think that creating a life you love is not something that happens to "people like us" it makes the job harder. Negative people affect us by:
1: Fuelling our doubts. There are often a few butterflies when we are making significant life changes. Fear does not mean it's a wrong decision, just that we need to be pragmatic and manage the risks. A negative friend will amplify and fuel our doubts, which can stall us.
2: Magnifying the fear. A negative friend can project their own fear of risk or failure on to us. Just because they wouldn't feel comfortable making that jump doesn't mean we shouldn't take the leap.
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3: Stressing us out. Assessing risk, peering into our blind spots and suggesting proactive strategies is helpful. Listing every possible thing that could go wrong is not. It just creates stress and promotes stuckness.
Why do some people repeatedly take the wind out of our sails? Why take the negative angle when we are burning bright with our dreams? The reason usually has a lot more to do with how they see themselves than the validity of your goal. Subtly undermining your dreams is a way of keeping you stuck in the status quo. If you don't challenge yourself it means they are free from pressure to question themselves or their life. If you play small it validates them playing small. If you don't change, they don't need to either. Unconsciously they are undermining your dreams so they don't have to challenge themselves with growth or change of their own.
If we are the average of the five people we hang out with most, this is good to know. If you want to change your life, have a look at who you spend the most time with and see if those influences support the person you want to be. If you want to be healthier, you need to spend more time with people who make healthy eating and exercise an integral part of their life. If you want to be more successful financially, surrounding yourself with people who make and enjoy fiscal abundance will start to rub off on you.