We spend our youth and adulthood finding our people. Or trying to. It’s our desire to have people in our lives who push us to our best. This is how you level up and become the best version of yourself. But is it possible to grow if those same friends hold you back?
**Just a note: This post isn’t a knock against anyone. For my friends reading this, you’re in my life because you bring me joy, peace and love. I’ve not always had great friendships. Fostering the kind of relationships that bring you growth is what this post is all about.
Friends are one of the sources of your biggest growth potential
We seek people who will love us no matter what. People who see our weirdness and quirks and don’t judge us but instead embrace us as one of their own.
We look for friends we feel comfortable being around and having fun with. People we can go do cool things with. Open up and be vulnerable with. Who have our back no matter what.
People who are on the journey of life with us, helping us grow into the best version of ourselves. This is what we’re looking for when we choose our closest friends.
Strong bonds are what we all want to have in our strongest relationships. It’s here in these connections where we get motivation, support, camaraderies, and joy from. The energy exchanged in our time together creates opportunities for growth in our lives. Is that the dynamic of your closest friendships?
You’re on a journey of growth. If you weren’t you wouldn’t be here reading this. Yet growth isn’t easy. Real growth involves help from those we associate with, in obvious and (often) subtle ways.
Your friendships and allies play a big role in the person you are becoming
We all have struggles to level up and become the next better version of ourselves.
Sometimes our struggle to grow and have the success we aspire to is a matter of more than goal setting. Your growth journey isn’t something you do entirely on your own. You set goals, create milestones, and do the work individually to get to where you aspire to. But the influence of your closest friendships play a huge role in your ability to grow into the success you seek.
It’s a matter of culture, collection and connection.
Our personal culture is closer than the culture we see in society. Your circle of friends has a dynamic impact on your personal growth, and your professional success. Because we no longer live in a day and age where the personal and professional/career worlds operate separately. Everything is intertwined.
You can be propelled forward or have friends that holds you back
Which is why looking at the dynamics of the people you spend your time and energy with is so important. A toxic friendship doesn’t have to mean someone who is trying to get you to break the law. Toxicity isn’t always someone proposing you binge on alcohol or drugs everyday or something sinister. It could have everything to do with the attitude you find yourself having when you spend time with them.
Your attitude & behavior is influenced by your culture and surroundings
Which comes down to the internal culture of the individual. Constant negativity, pessimism, and self-doubt is an energy that people carry with them. They project that energy (via their attitude) onto others, creating a ripple effect for the people in their vicinity.
A look at the toxic effects of negative people
If you have friends who constantly complain about what’s going on in their lives, who blame others for why things aren’t the way they want them to be, there’s toxicity in that dynamic. Which can bleed over into you, influencing the way you see yourself and your future.
Many of us struggle with negative mindsets. The inner critic is constantly working to bring us down. When you have negative people in your life that you spend a lot of time with, the voice of that inner critic gets cranked up. Loud! Fostering good mental health is about what you put inside yourself. The atmosphere created by your friendships plays a huge role in this.
If you find yourself shifting your attitude from looking on the bright side of things to seeing only hopelessness or feeling like things just suck all the time, there’s some toxicity there. Just like in chemistry, when you introduce toxins to living substance, it changes the life of the living thing.
Negativity of any kind will change your mindset and throw you off. It impacts how you see yourself, how you see others, and what actions (or inactions) you take to change.
Another way to look at the influence your friends have on you
The dynamic of being aware of the nature of your friendships can be seen in business, as illustrated by the wisdom of Jim Rohn. Rohn used to talk about how you can look at the 5 people you spend the most time with and see how much income you’re going to make. You take the median of your 5 closest friends income and that’s where you’ll be.
The same is true for your outlook on life and what you believe about your happiness. Negativity shows itself in different ways. Here are a few:
- All rich people are greedy,
- Those who don’t work 50 hours a week are lazy bums
- The government is always out to make you suffer
If your closest friends think and talk like this, you’re likely to foster and adopt these attitudes as beliefs too. These beliefs can lead to you silently judging those who have significant wealth. It’s wealth you wish you had but have created resistance to it because of these negative beliefs.
You may find yourself working all the time, putting in more time for work while you’re supposed to be with family. Work becomes your only ambition. You struggle giving yourself any free time or vacation time because you don’t want to be lazy. You know you’re not lazy because you don’t feel that way. But for some reason you feel like you’re letting someone down if you aren’t out busting your butt 50-60 hours a week..
And anytime anyone mentions anything political, you find your blood pressure rise and your desire to tell everyone your opinion on why the current administration is destroying the fabric of the country. You used to not be very political, but lately it’s one of the only subjects you focus on outside of work and sports.
Search for the root of these negative beliefs and you’ll likely find your associations
The root of these issues is connected to the symptoms. What you plant in your heart and mind garden through your beliefs, thoughts, and ideas is what you will produce with your life through your actions, attitudes, and behaviors. That’s what Growth Farming is. Your inner world creates your outer world.
Everything is connected
Suffice to say: what you think about and focus on is what comes out in your actions and attitude. Your circle of friends are farming this dynamic principle with whether you’re aware of it or not. The atmosphere you operate in (your circle of friends) has everything to do with the life-crops you produce. Your beliefs and actions are influenced by those you give access to influence you with.
You’re working to level up in life, gain inner peace, and become a better version of yourself. But your friends aren’t supporting your endeavors. That’s a sign that it’s time to change things up. When you have loving and solid people in your circle of friends, their positive attitude becomes contagious. You see the bright side of everything.
Opportunities are abundant because the focus in conversations is on what’s going right. You get the encouragement and support you need to move forward. In these friendships, gold and wonder abounds! You feel the freedom to ask for help and ask for support. You don’t feel like a stranger or someone who is going to be let down.
It’s these kinds of relationships that you want in your Strong Circle, detailed Be Solid: How To Go Through Hell & Come Out Whole. This is how you grow with the right interest in your health and success using peace and love.
If you want to grow and overcome challenges, you may need to evaluate the people you spend the most time with and make some changes. It’s hard to remove unhealthy people from your life, especially when there’s history with them. But what often keeps us from letting go of toxic or negative relationships is our unwillingness to be uncomfortable. Comfort is a terrible thing to settle for when your heart desires peace, wholeness, and growth.
How to grow when friends are holding you back
Sometimes, the best way to readjust your friendship connections is to spend some quality time by yourself. Reconnect with you. Write down the types of personal character traits you want to surround yourself with. A few examples of personal character traits that foster growth are
- Perpetually positive (optimistic)
- Caring and kind
- Imaginative and creative
What you focus on grows. It’s also what you attract into your life.
Cultivate a stronger spiritual connection for growth & better friendships
Spend time with God. Pray and ask for help in making friendships with the right people to help you level up in your life. Listen for direction on how to make changes.
Surrender to the desire for growth and the opportunities to be surrounded by the right people for that to happen will come into being. When you surrender, things change. A simple way to do this is to get in a quiet place, close your eyes, and simply say, “I surrender.” Say what you want to have. Let go of what isn’t working. And surrender to the process of your growth coming into being.
Build your Strong Circle of healthy friendships for maximum growth & success
Choose to spend your time with people who bring fruitfulness, joy, and positivity into your world. It starts with you.
The more you choose to love and honor yourself, the more aware you become of the people you bring into your life. You’ll see clearly the effects that your friends have on you. When you see negative patterns with people that you don’t want to adopt, make changes to how that relationship operates. It may mean that you choose to spend less time together.
We attract who we are.
As you grow, new and different people will come into your life. You’ll find your influences change. Which will shift your thinking and the way you see yourself. You’ll change the way you see others. Growth is a natural byproduct of this kind of mental health work.
It’s how you cultivate growth and success in your personal culture. It removes toxicity. And gets you moving forward towards living the best version of you.