Who you Hang out with Matters!
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
I just watched a video on Facebook of a little boy who was 6 or 7, and he was desperately trying to break a board with his foot in Karate class. The boy tried over and over with no success. You could see the sadness and embarrassment written all over his face. I am sure this young man had just watched a few of his friends break the board with ease. The poor little boy was feeling defeated and began to cry. With a voice filled with embarrassment and tears, he said, “I can't do it!”
As you watch the clip, you see that none of his friends and fellow classmates were laughing or making fun of him. Instead, they were shouting pointers, cheering his name, and telling him he could do it. They continued to shout even when the boy failed to break the board again and again. The boy finally struck the board with all his might and broke it! His friends flooded him with hugs, cheers, and shouts of joy. I started to cry at this beautiful seen. Cheesy of me, I know, but this young man’s friends believed in him even when he didn’t believe in himself. What if we cheered each other on like that? What if when someone faces a challenge, feels defeated, or fails, we rally up around him or her with words of encouragement and love, just like this little boy’s classmates did?
After watching this video, I deeply felt that this is the kind of support we all need! Especially when we are faced with challenges as we try to meet a goal or chase a dream. Are the people with whom you surround yourself like these children fighting for their friend? Or are your people the ones who would make fun of you, discourage you from trying, or kick you while you're down?
I strongly believe that who you hang out with matters. The people you spend your time with can either propel you forward or drag you down. There are a few groups of people I have come across that have negatively impacted my life. I call them the “Crabby Bullies,” the “Runaway Trains,” the “Line Drawers,” and the “Gossips.” By sharing my experiences, I hope it will help you to identify and consider those with whom you spend your time and how they impact your life.
Did you know that when you go crabbing, you don't have to put a lid on a bucket of caught crabs? The reason is because any time a crab tries to escape, the other crabs in the bucket pull it back down. Crazy, right? I think this is a great analogy for the type of people with whom we don’t want to surround ourselves.
Do we surround ourselves with people like the crabs in the bucket who continually pull us down? Or worse, are we like the crabs that pull others down? I will call this group, the “Crabby Bullies.” I’m sure you know the type of people I am referring to. They are the people who bring others low so they can feel better about themselves—the ones who make others the laughing stock of the party so he or she can avoid being made fun of. They are the bullies that never quite left their high school behavior behind them. They usually are the ones who can dish it out but fall apart when they have to take it. (If the above person is you, please work on this character flaw and go to counseling if needed.)
These people do not realize the turret that one raises by lifting up others. We shine when we love and serve others, not when we make people feel inferior so we can appear superior.
Have you ever been in a relationship that feels like you’re on a roller coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure? One minute you're going up, the next minute you're going down, and then you’re on a loop de loop thinking, I’m going to be sick. I’m going to call this group the “Runaway Train People.” How do relationships with these types of people play out in real life, you wonder? You’ve seen it before: it’s those relationships that are great one minute, and the next minute you are left wondering what you did wrong. Some days you will get Happy Miss Daisy as a friend, and another day Cruella De Vil. You never know what is coming next in this relationship.
There is another group of people I like to call the “Line Drawers.” This bunch likes to draw invisible lines of acceptance. The biggest problem with the invisible line is that not only is it invisible to you, but it keeps on moving. One minute you think: Wow! This person likes me. I have crossed his or her line of acceptance and all is good! But then you realize that unbeknownst to you, the invisible line has moved, and you are yet again rejected and hurt. You never know what you did right or wrong. This group tends to feel like the “Runaway Train People” because, in the end, you feel like you are back on that roller coaster again and about to get sick.
When I have to work really hard to figure out where I stand with someone, it becomes a toxic relationship. These behaviors play right into my people pleasing tendencies, because, deep down, I just want everyone to be happy with me. I succumb to wasting precious time trying to figure out how to please these people and worrying whether my efforts will be successful. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the time for or interest in drama.
The last group of people I would like to mention is “The Gossips.” Do yourself a favor and don’t spend time with someone who constantly talks about others. These people like to deflect attention from themselves because of their own deep insecurities. As a result, they enjoy pointing out everyone else’s flaws. But remember, just as they are talking to you about someone else, they will talk to someone else about you. They are the ones that make you feel uncomfortable to leave the party before them, because they will probably talk to others about you as soon as you leave. This behavior is so destructive and even unattractive. I prefer speaking with people who have more depth in that they can talk about other things rather than just sharing their opinions about other people.
Jack Canfield, an author and motivational speaker, once said, “Make a conscious effort to surround yourself with positive, nourishing, and uplifting people—people who believe in you, encourage you to go after your dreams, and applaud your victories.”
Love, bless, and release the “Crabby Bullies,” “The Runaway Trains,” “The Line Drawers,” and “The Gossips.” These groups of people are not whom you want to be in your inner circle. You can still love and be kind to these people, but I don’t believe they should be part of your inner circle or your “tribe.” You can’t count on them to be in your corner or to have your back. They won’t help you, encourage you, believe in you, or be there for you like the Karate kid’s friends.
Instead, they will be like the crabs in the bucket that continue to bring you down. I’m not saying you should tell these people off and cut them out of your life (although in certain circumstances that may be necessary). But I am saying you should be careful with whom you hang out, because it matters. Find a tribe of people who build you up, give you loving feedback, encourage you, and rise by helping others—not by putting others down. Find those with whom you can be yourself and trust.
How would you name and describe the people who you hang out? I would love to know in the comments.