I was once asked this very question during my coaching training and it completely got me! It’s quite a simple, straightforward viewpoint isn’t it?! How can we expect to live a positive life when we surround ourselves with negative influences?
But, we sometimes lose sight of this on a daily basis and never really stop to think who we’re surrounding ourselves with. Upon reflection I know I’ve had both positive and negative influences in my life and for years I put up with some of the negative friends I surrounded myself with. They were the ones who always put you down, who didn’t support your aspirations or dreams or who made fun of you. They were the ones who chipped away at your self-esteem or perhaps offered their opinion more often than not even when it wasn’t required. These are the people I call the ‘Drains.’
These people go out of their way to make you feel like you’re not worthy or good enough, they make out that their life is better than everyone else’s when you know in fact it’s not! They drain the energy out of you because they demand so much of your time and energy and require you to be there for them but, you recognise that that’s not always reciprocated. They are the people that you go out of your way to help because after all they’re a friend (or family member) but, the ones that never return the favour. They’re the ones who always make an excuse when you need them and they’re the ones who time and time again let you down – Does that sound familiar?
These people might be jealous, envious, overbearing and may even have issues with their own lives but, instead of dealing with their own problems they’d rather spend time judging everyone else’s. I’ve personally found that the drains can also be manipulative, not all of them but, some of them. They are clever in their thinking and have already thought ahead of what they’d like to do and somehow manage to influence you before you’ve even thought about it. That usually leaves us kind of people (who go with the flow, or go with what’s best) feeling frustrated and unsure how to deal with this. These people will drain you of your time, energy and will leave you feeling exhausted or annoyed – or both!
Some drains can be of the ‘healthy’ type too, and by that I mean those that are experiencing a particular problem or health issue at a particular time in their life. They’re not normally like that but, due to circumstance they act like that. These are the friends you know are having a rough time and these are the friends to be there for, to care for as you know that you were ever in that situation they’d be there for you. They’re only a drain because of the things they’re experiencing and you can make allowances for them, no matter how many times they tell you how much they’re suffering, be there for them.
Taking a step back in life now and again is so good for you as it enables you to see things (and people) for what they really are and allows you to see what they bring into your life. When I took a step back I identified a few people who always had an opinion on me, they were the ones who were always ‘so happy’ to see me but, when I turned my back I knew they had something to say about me or the way I was living my life. At times, it hurt, it really hurt but, I let them do it time and time again and I never said or did anything about it. How could I? I couldn’t prove it!
But, then through coaching I started to identify who these people were and distanced myself from them and immediately I started to feel better about myself. I started feeling more confident and I felt like I no longer had self-esteem issues anymore, after all it was them that were feeding these self-esteem issues – not me. I then started identifying the people in my life who made me feel good about myself, those who inspired me, supported me (no matter how crazy my ideas were) and those that didn’t judge me.
These are the people who need to be treasured, these are the ‘Radiators’ in life. If you actually look up the definition of a radiator is that it omits heat, light and energy – it’s giving! Radiators are the ones we want to hold onto in life, they go out of their way to help and support you with anything you want to do, they encourage you to make positive changes and sometimes help you identify the challenges/problems that lie ahead. Look after these people as they’ll be there for you no matter what..!
Radiators are the ones who’ll always compliment you on your appearance, style and home, they offer praise and will go out of their way to help you in any way they can. They’re non-judgemental and don’t talk about others in a negative way, they’re not bitter or jealous and they recognise that everyone is different and they respect and appreciate that. They are the ones that make it so easy to talk to them, they’re affectionate, attentive and caring.
Once I became aware of all of this and starting surrounding myself with those of the positive type, I feel so much happier and now I live a carefree life knowing that I can live my life free from judgement, negative opinions and most of all live it the way we choose to! It’s so refreshing….!
So for those of you who struggle with negative influences and relationships, here are my top tips for ways to deal with these people to minimise the affect they have on your life;
1. Distance yourself from them.
2. Establish your boundaries with them, if they say something you don’t like challenge by saying, ‘Actually I don’t agree and this is why…’ or ‘I’m not sure if you’re aware but, when you say things like that it makes me feel/or it really upsets me.’
3. Raise their awareness to their behaviours and negative habits.
4. If all else fails, convert them. Surround them with positive people.
(The photo is of my 3 biggest inspirations – my husband Richard and two sons, Tom & James! My world right there).