photo © 2009 Juliana Coutinho | more info (via: Wylio)
I have always emphasized the need of finding and maintaining the right company of people. This becomes all the more necessary and evident when you try to make a positive change in your life.
How your company affects your efforts
Mostly, the company of people you have at a given time, is reflective of your mental state at that point. The friends we have are very similar to us in a lot of respects. If you smoke, a lot of your friends may be smokers, if you are a sports persons, a lot of your friends will be so too. Like a lot of other things in life, it’s a mutually feeding relation. Your mental state affects the kind of company you seek and the company you keep affects your mental state. If you are in a negative state of mind and hold a negative company, it will require a big push from inside to make positive changes. For example, if you are a smoker, you probably have a lot of friends who smoke. If you try to quit, your friends might not be very enthusiastic or motivating. Some might say outright that you shouldn’t try it. The ‘push’ to still do it, as I mentioned in the last post , will come from a burning desire inside you, to change your life for the better.
On the other hand, when you have reached a positive state of mind, and have a positive company, it becomes easier and natural to continue moving to higher levels. Your mental state and company, both push you towards a higher self. For example, once you quit smoking and make friends who care about their health, a desire to get into regular exercise is more likely to be applauded and supported by friends. Personal growth and climbing consciousness levels is just like an engine, most of the power is needed in the beginning. Once it is started, and moving, very little is required to keep it going.
Type of reactions you face when you make a change.
When you initiate a positive change in life, it’s interesting to observe how people react.
1. Supportive and enthusiastic. Some of your friends will suddenly become very supportive. They will show a lot of interest and respect for your new direction. There may be people with whom you had only a cursory relationship before, they were mere acquaintances. They will suddenly start connecting with you and will be very supportive. These are the optimistic, forward looking friends who believe in growth and development. They are definitely a keeper.
2. Skeptical and dismissive. A lot of the people will meet your decision with skepticism. Most will not say anything, trying not to offend you. But they will feel you are going crazy. They will slowly and silently slip out of your radar. No more phone calls, no more emails, no more FaceBook comments on your status. They totally believe in the security and comfort of what they have. Trying new things, seeking growth, purpose and fulfillment are not their concerns. They don’t even understand these words fully. Some might, in a quiet and friendly tone, try to hint at the ‘foolishness’ of your actions.
Such people are easily recognizable by the sudden change in their behavior. At times, some mockery may slip out in a conversation. You can almost sense being treated like a gone, crazy case in their presence.
You cannot make them understand. If you try to explain yourself here, you will waste a lot of time and energy, and you won’t be able to make them budge. You will only sound more delusional to them.
3. Disbelief, anger. There would also be some who will be incredulous. They will tell you outright how difficult(or impossible) it is going to be. they will warn you it’s insecure, they will make it amply clear that this is not the right path. They may mock your efforts outright. It’s almost as if you have offended them with this decision. From what I understand, these people are so insecure and afraid themselves, they defend their fear with everything. They also have a fear that their fears might be found ungrounded. If you succeed in future, you will be declaring their fears false. So, in their paranoia, they have to do their utmost to stop you. When they ask you to not go ahead, they are just projecting their reality on to you. This is more a case of proving themselves right than a genuine effort of help. They are in denial.
So should you leave your negative friends behind?
When you move towards a particular dream, there will be changes that happen in your life. As you move forward, there would be new things, new people, new places you will embrace. There will also be things, people and places that get left behind, that you loose touch with. This is a normal part of your development process.
Don’t we have any responsibility towards helping our friends? I believe we do. But my reasons are different. Most people help friends on moral or fear based grounds. They help because they are supposed to, or they think they might need help themselves later, so why not keep friends happy. For me, the reasons are more of a natural way of growth. I don’t see myself separate from others. You are as much a part of me as me myself, and vice versa. Our goods are intertwined. I help you for my own good.
Do you really help if you stay connected with negative friends, no matter what, or nod your head to whatever they say? No you don’t. They live under fear, they live in a comfortable bubble where there is no growth. If you really want to help them, leave them and go after your goal. Growth and personal development are a personal journey, your friend has to make his own. When you leave, you not only help yourself, you help your friends too, in 2 ways –
1. You shake them out of their comfortable shell for a while. They are forced to realize that somebody can see a life beyond their present bubble.
2. More importantly, you set a good, hard to deny, example for them when you do good in your journey. You learn and grow more. When you come back to them, your charisma itself will urge them to do something.
I have seen my parents change a lot as I have changed in life. There was a time when they had a lot of fears. I had some fears of my own. They wouldn’t change when I asked them to(why would they learn from another fearful soul?). When I moved on and did well, I became proof that things can be different. I see a lot of positive changes in them. I don’t have to ask them now. There are still things I feel they would do good without, but I don’t press them for it. As I move ahead, I will set better examples for them to learn from.
You don’t leave for ever, and you don’t leave to run away for your own selfish goals. You leave for common good. They are not bad people, no one and nothing is bad. Accept all of creation, love everything.
Avoid guilt, it doesn’t help your friends and it doesn’t help you move forward. It pulls you down. Let go with love, let go in the faith that you are not separate, that you are not actually leaving. In time, you will come back again, but the connection would be way more positive than it is now.
How to seek out the right company?
Further, to assist and motivate in your new path, you should look for friends who are more compatible with your new self. Seek out the right friends, take the initiative. When you are in the company of the right people, your positive energies multiply many folds. One and one don’t make 2 they make 11! You will immediately feel positive, just by being in the company of those seeking a similar, positive path as you. The other person will feel the same. It’s a mutually benefiting relationship, a win-win situation. Don’t hesitate, take the initiative. Don’t fear rejection, it’s simple logistics – you try with 10 people, you may get 1 friend, if you try with 100, you may make 10, try try try try try…
You can start on this site itself. We have a mini community here now, of like minded people, determined to create their lives through conscious effort. Connect with others here. Check the comments, check the FaceBook page, you might find someone who is trying to find someone like you!
Share your own experiences. Have you ever tried to do something good but felt your friendships were keeping you from moving forward? Or has there been an incident when your friends have motivated and helped you move ahead? What do you feel about the relation between the company of your friends and your growth?