Here’s a reality that is hard to swallow: not everyone you know is good for you.
It’s a well known fact that those we spend time with are the biggest influence on us. We can see this behavior in children, and especially teenagers. Yet it’s easy to underestimate just how much this is true for adults as well.
The way you see yourself today is directly influenced by the way people around you see you. Their collective image of is who you are. if you start to spend time with someone, you can’t help but become more like them.
But what do you do when the people closest to you are the ones bringing you down? How do you break free of a negative person who you feel is stopping you growing?
There have been times in my life where I’ve had to move away from people who I loved, but didn’t have the same interests or ambitions as me. It was incredibly hard to do, as I felt guilty not keeping the connection. But I also realized that my life was my life, and theirs was theirs.
Despite my encouragement for them to do more with their lives, sometimes they would choose to stay in the same position. What I finally realized is that was okay, for them. But not for me. I realized I had to make a delineation in my mind. I had see myself as moving forward and disconnecting from the relationship. Easy to decide to do. Hard to actually follow through with.
Here are three ways I’ve learned that have helped me to make the tough choice to move on from people who weren’t going in the same direction as me.
1) Start by spending less time together
This is tough to do. You have to consciously decide how much time you’re willing to spend with people who aren’t helping you grow and succeed. It may be a subtle slow change, but you need to be conscious to start to reduce the connection.
If in the past you have spent time together several days a week, then you might reduce it to once or twice a week. Typically anyone who you see more than once a week will start to influence you.
One key here is to not feel guilty. You need to be who you want to be, and you need to let them be who they want to be. If they aren’t willing to grow with you, then it’s okay to move on.
Also, remember that people are very adaptable, so if you start seeing them less, they will adjust to the new pattern within a few weeks.
2) Start growing new connections that align with your values
In the same way that some people hold you back, others will propel you forward. The influence factor works just as well in a forward motion as backwards. Therefore, you can use this to your advantage.
You can seek out those who have an interest in the same things as you, those who have goals and plans to do something just like you. No matter what your goal, there are people out there just like you who want to achieve the same thing.
As crazy as it sounds, you might like to write down a list of characteristics of the types of people you’d like to meet. Doing this will program your subconscious mind to actively looking for them.
As you seek them out, you can also become more generative. Proactively create relationships with new people and be willing to help them to move ahead. Doing this will create a synergy between you that grows you and them at the same time.
3) Get busy and focused on the future
The final step to moving on is to create momentum. In life, our actions and behaviors show what we truly value. If you are spending your days and evenings working on goals and activities that matter to you, you will automatically have less time to spend with old friends. If you really need to move on from people who are a negative influence, you can start to do evening classes, work a weekend job, or even move to a different location.
These activities will start to create a disparity between you and the other people. But they will also grow your self-image and confidence. The more active you are, the more new people and opportunities will be attracted to you. You become like a magnet of momentum, and people who are like minded will start to seek you out.
Most of all remember this: you are a fluid changing human being, and you can’t stay stagnant. You either go forward or you go backwards.
It is a natural part of life that some relationships grow and some fade. The factor that decides whether someone should stay in your life is whether they are going in the same direction as you are.
Who you were is not who you are becoming.