Birds of a feather flock together

I read an article this morning, Who You Surround Yourself With, and it reminded me of something I’ve said on my blogs many times:

So what drives the direction of your thoughts?

For most people, it is the other people they surround themselves with. And they collect people that feed the electrical charge to be in victim-hood and commiserate around other victims. This actually makes you quite popular!

There is nothing to make you more popular with the herd than to be struggling. And nothing that makes you more unpopular with the herd than to be succeeding.

On the surface, it sounds quite sick and twisted, doesn’t it? Your friends, the people close to you, are supposed to be happy when you are successful. They should be happy you’re accomplishing your goals. On the surface, you would think so. With good solid friendships, they are happy for you. Secure with their own accomplishments, they are happy to share your success as, when they had their accomplishments, you shared their joy because you were secure with your own accomplishments. When people move in the same direction (upwards, not necessarily doing the same thing), everything smells like roses. It is when one person moves up, and the other(s) stay stagnant (or worse, take steps backwards) that the problems occur.

The blunt truth

Most people are not motivated or ambitious enough to achieve their goals, especially when it comes to career goals. Too much work involved, more risk than they are comfortable taking and if they are surrounded by people who are just as stagnant as they are, it is easy to become comfortable (even in a bad situation). Inevitably it happens: one begins to break away from the pack. Let’s look at some examples:

When Jealousy and Insecurity Rule
  • John, after working hard at his job, receives a promotion and a pay raise. The increase in pay allows John to spend more money on luxuries. John’s friends are jealous because they do not have the same financial freedom as John. Every time John goes out with his friends, it is suggested John pick up the tab because he can afford it or other references to his change in financial status are made.
  • Alan falls in love with Heather, a good looking financially independent female. Alan’s friends do not like Heather because Heather is the type of female they desire but have not found. Jealousies arise and the friends create a wedge between Alan and Heather, destroying their relationship.
  • Denise and Lisa are friends. Denise starts a blog and it becomes successful. As her blog becomes more successful, she met Ken. Denise and Ken click, and start another blog together which also becomes successful. Due to the success of their joint blog, they began traveling, and many opportunities opened up. Lisa, jealous of Denise’s success, didn’t like sitting at home with her husband every night hearing about Denise’s experiences on her blogs. Lisa began to dislike Ken (jealousy and envy), even though Ken was obviously good for Denise, putting Denise in an awkward position. Trying to keep two people she valued in her life happy, Denise ended up blowing both her business and personal relationship with Ken.
  • Gary and Frank are friends and talk frequently throughout the week. Every time they talk, they end up talking about how other people screwed up. Mocking them.
  • Helen worked for an accounting firm for many years. Tired of doing taxes, she saved her money and started her own business doing what she loved: interior design. Her friends were happy she started her own business. However, even though they know she has goals she wants to accomplish with her new company (she needs to strengthen the foundation of her business so she can compete for business), they keep asking her to do their taxes and help them with their financial issues. For free, of course, because they are friends.

Odds are you know or have experienced situations similar to these. If you are John, Denise, Helen, or Ken you begin to see what is going on but might be unsure how to resolve it without booting the people causing the friction out of their lives. The people who are causing the trouble are people they’ve come to care about or love.

What does one do?

The first step is to realize that social media connects us to people we most likely would not be in touch with. Think about it. If the person isn’t one that you talk on the phone with, or hang out with, without the internet, you’d have no communication with the person at all. You can meet people online that are closer to you than family but you’ll notice those deep bonds naturally trend to offline interactions. The normal pattern is text communication to voice, leading to possibly video or skipping to meeting in person. If the “friends” with insecurities and jealousies are online friends, simply limit your online interaction with them. You can be cordial, but eventually your lives will take different paths. Real life situations is an easy excuse not to be online.

What about local connections? People you see and interact with all the time? Again, the same thing applies. If your friends, the ones you see in the club every week, are the ones causing discourse in your life, you can still be cordial, but distant. For example, Alan is spending time with Heather because they are falling in love. Alan’s friends give him grief because of their jealousy. Don’t give into the jealousy, continue to see Heather. Make new friends, enjoy the changes you are naturally attracted to. If things do not work out with Heather, that doesn’t mean Alan potentially lost his friends for nothing. It means things didn’t work out with Heather and it was time for Alan to make new friends, ones who are more aligned with his goals. In John’s case, begin making new friends who make similar salaries or have similar jobs. If they are as ambitious as John, they’ll move upwards in a similar fashion.

You can’t win against someone else’s insecurities and jealousies. You have no control over someone else’s problems. It is wise to leave them to deal with their problems while you deal with yours. If you are motivated and inspired to move forward with your life, by all means, do it! Take advantage of those opportunities while they are available. If you want a promotion or raise, work hard for it and do not allow anyone to make you feel guilty once you achieve it. Just because you can afford to take everyone out doesn’t mean you should pick up the tab.

Look objectively at the people in your life and what they bring into your life.