When I was a young woman there were so many things I didn’t know. I remember wishing I had an owner’s manual for evaluating whether I was making smart choices, or how to operate wisely. For reasons too lengthy to go into here, I didn’t.
Now at middle-age, I know so much more (and yes, I have more to learn, but that’s another post). One of the things I found to be true was that a negative person can drag down a positive person much more quickly than a positive person can pull up a negative one.
Along those same lines, my friend Tammy Coia shared this yesterday: “Think of your 5 closest friends. We become who we surround ourselves with. If we are surrounded by negative thinkers, guess what, we become more pessimistic. When we surround ourselves with positive thinkers our thinking becomes more positive…” And then Tammy ends with this most insightful of questions: “Examine who you surround yourself with and why you choose them (or did they choose you?)”
I emphasized the last few words because the question gives me chills. As a younger woman I sent out signals to manipulators and cons that I was non-judgmental, kind, and eager to help damaged people realize their potential. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, in balance, but I didn’t know when to quit. So the users lined up outside my heart, and I reeled them in on my tractor beam that said, “Pretend you love me and I will let you sleep on my couch while I go to work and earn money to feed you and pay the mortgage.” Now I know the answer to Tammy’s question: they chose me, and I was inadequately prepared to realize it or deal with them in a balanced and healthy way.
To end at the beginning: when I was young, I lacked a lot of information that would have made life safer and easier. Now that I’m older I’ve learned some important skills, and one of them is to surround myself with supportive and positive people. For the most part, I choose them, but if such people (like Tammy) happen to choose me, that’s the icing on top.