“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” ~Jim Rohn
I came across this quote in an article on Lifehacker a few days ago, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since then. Although the article’s focus was on being successful and how the people we surround ourselves with affects our success, it seems to me that this would be equally true in other aspects of our lives.
If I am the average of the five people I spend that most time with, then I should be spending a lot more time and energy choosing those five people to make sure that they are people who I want to be like.
I’ve written before about my tendency to pick friendships based on our being wound mates and about my co-dependent tendencies that lead me choose people who seem to need my help. The impact of choosing these types of relationships is that I am choosing to surround myself with people who either reinforce my woundedness or who are ultimately either needy or controlling (or both). And if I become the average of that group, it does not lead me any closer to becoming the person I want to be. In fact, it generally goes the other way.
Now that doesn’t mean that I should never befriend someone who is going through a difficult time—we all go through hard times and that’s when we rely on our friends to help get us through. It does mean that I want to focus more on how someone goes through their hard times, though. I’d rather spend my time with people who use hard times as learning opportunities and who step up to take responsibility for doing what they can to better the situation and to find healing. I want to spend less time with people who deal with hard times by blaming others, playing the victim, or refusing to deal honestly with the situation. I care more about the character the person displays than about the particular challenges (or lack of them).
As I continue to spend more time alone in silence in order to focus on my writing and on the reading and processing that I need for my own self-growth right now, choosing how I spend my social time is even more important than usual since it is so limited. I want my limited time spent with other people to be working with the changes I’m trying to make in my life rather than pulling against my growth.
It was on my mind again this evening as I had dinner with a new friend. She had just gone through a really tough week and a half or so, and she needed to vent. As I listened to her story, I was struck by how she was already finding the learning, the positives, and the humor in the situation despite the fact that it was only a few days after the events. She was actively looking for ways to re-frame it, to drop blame, and to let go of the parts she couldn’t change. I admire that, and those are character traits that I would like to strengthen in myself. She would be a positive influence that would support my growth into the person I want to be.
I need to spend more time noticing things like that as I make new friends to make sure I’m doing a better job at choosing to spend my time with people who I would be happy to be more like. I have some of those people in my life now, and I am grateful for their influence. I intend to more actively focus on this criteria from now on. It matters who I spend my time with, so I need to choose wisely.
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