I was once told that we are most like the 5 people we surround ourselves with most. As someone whose main “strength” in life is her empathy, I’m sure you can imagine why this was so interesting to me.
I find that I often feed off of people’s emotions. I’m a fairly happy person 9 out of 10 days. Everyone gets frustrated or sad or lonely or pissed off, so let’s not pretend like that doesn’t happen to me. All in all, though, I’d say I’m a fairly upbeat person with fairly lofty life goals and I really like other happy people because they make me the happiest. I would say I keep a fairly good head under pressure or when friends of mine get upset, but I find that if “upset” is just someone’s general personality, I can’t handle it. I can’t handle daily negativity, daily sadness, daily complaints, or daily anger. I also can’t handle drama which seems to contain all of the above.
I was unaware of this piece of my personality for a long time. It wasn’t really coming into full focus that when I was surrounded by happy, I WAS happy. When I was surrounded by sad/angry, I WAS sad/angry. Many people I know could care less how those around them act or react. They feed off of fear, hatred, anger, obsession, putting others down, getting ahead, etc.
For me, the emotions of others are my life blood. Keeping other people happy and in tune to what they have or who they are or what they’ve accomplished- that keeps me happy and on my own path of success. I gain enrichment in my own life when I have supported others through obstacles and they come out on the other side knowing they are better for having gone through things. When others are NOT happy, when nothing that I can say or do can serve as uplifting for someone else, that’s when I get frustrated. Now don’t mistake- I’m not hating on people who aren’t happy all the time. I totally get that a bad week happens, a bad month happens, a bad YEAR happens. Vent. Cry daily. Scream. Shave your head. I’ve been there. Well, not the last one, but I’ve cut my hair pretty short before when I was emotional which is just a terrible idea. Never go to a salon when you’re emotional.
I digress. By being placed in extremely negative situations, I have found comfort in what I DO have, even as everything is crashing down around me- and I try to focus on what’s good. I truly appreciate others who are able to do the same. Who are able to have their total freak out, but then go “you know what? I can’t change it right now, so I’m just going to deal with it and quit allowing it to rule me” or “you know what? This sucks, I’m going to fix it, I don’t care how long it takes, I have to try.”
After I heard about the Top 5, I decided I would make a list of the Top 5 in my life.
The “Top 5” goes something like this: you are the most like the top 5 people that you interact with the most on a daily/weekly basis. In a nutshell, if they are positive, chances are you are positive. If you are negative, chances are they are negative, too. Simple, right?
As I don’t do things simply, I tend to just go whole hog, I made a complete list of all of the people that I had actually contacted within the last year. That list wasn’t ridiculous- I’m not an overly social individual. I like knowing people really, really well and I tend to focus on a small few. I had my oddballs, but good list overall. From there, I went through and thought about the impact that each of these individuals had on my life. Was the result negative or positive? If the result was negative, was there an easy way to withdraw them from my life? In most cases, the answer to that was “yes.” Chances are that the people who were negatively impacting my life were not deeply entrenched in my day-to-day just because of how I react to those personalities. They would not notice the “slow fade” of friendship. I was right, overall. I’ve encountered only 2 that have actually tried to contact me since my initial “slow fade.”
On the other hand, I realized that (luckily) the vast majority of people in my life were funny, warm, kind, honest, and creative. They were hard workers with big dreams and a lot of life ahead of them. I vowed that I would spend more time with these people (I have tried.) I also vowed that there were some people in my list that were not in my Top 5- but that I wanted to put there. This is something else that I have been working on for a bit. It is amazing the things that can happen to you- to your friendships- when you put the work into it. Although, in most cases, I wouldn’t consider these relationships to be work- I would consider them to be pathways to growth. Ooh, that sounded terribly corny. But it’s true, so I’m totally leaving it. Stop judging me.
I have been much happier overall since doing this- since focusing on the good friends and trying to rid my life of the negative folks. I have been much more willing to pursue things that I’d have previously worried were wrong or dumb simply because I feel that even if people in my life felt that they were wrong or dumb, they’d encourage me anyway. Who doesn’t want to surround themselves with positivity?
I encourage you to do something similar- to try to disassociate yourself from that which has the ability to negatively impact you daily. Sometimes these things can’t be helped- being in situations that you can’t really carve your way out of. But at the same time, will you at least try to surround yourself with more positivity? Will you arrange coffee with a good, happy friend? A walk with someone new you meet at school or at the gym? Will you do something positive that is just for YOU that will bring joy to your life even if everything else is a bit of a downer? It will be just the beginning for you.