“If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas”
Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack
#1 Stop Spending Time with the Wrong People
This is part of a series I’m going to do, covering an article I saw on Lifebuzz titled “30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself.” I realize this is going to take a lot of episodes, but I think it’s important and it will benefit us all, myself included, to dig a little deeper into each item. So, enjoy and share with others if you find it beneficial.
No Relationships are Neutral.
The people around you are either adding to your life or taking from it. Sure, there are times when some people add and when they subtract, but you have to look at the sum of the experiences. Is this person a drain on your life-energy or are they where you go to recharge?
A good way to find this out is to list the people you’d call, in the order you’d call them, if tragedy suddenly struck. The ones at the top of the list are your instant keepers. The ones at the bottom of the list are your instant avoiders.
But, I Might Be Able to Help Them
The truth is, when someone is drowning, if you aren’t experienced enough and try to save them, they can take you down as well. Maybe you’ve had something like this happen, in a moment of sheer panic, as you’re trying to keep their head above water and swim with them to shore or the edge of the pool, they’re climbing all over you, just trying to stop up. Meanwhile, they’re pushing you under.
This is what happens in relationships when one person is panicked and just wants to survive, without regard, in that moment, to your well-being. Just like in the water, the person’s intent isn’t to drown you, it’s simply to make sure they don’t drown.
This is usually a well-meaning person who would never do this in a situation where they were in their right mind. This could even be someone who is loving and supportive normally, but their current situation has left them in a fight-or-flight mindset.
They May Have to Go Down Before You Can Help Them Up
I’m a pilot and I’ve heard my fair share of stories about flight instructors who had a student flying in for “short final” just a few hundred feet off the ground, lock up and point the plain down towards the ground and only seconds to spare. The flight instructors in these situations have had to cold-cock the person and knock them out in order to have them release the yoke so they could save both of their lives.
This is the same situation with the Lifeguard mentioned above, where the person in the bad place has to be debilitated in order to rescued and to keep them from taking you down as well. This can seem cruel on the surface, but you have to ask, what’s the greater tragedy? One life destroyed or two?
It’s Not Always Life and Death
I’ve just shared extreme situations both with the student pilot and drowning friend, but most of our associations aren’t life or death. In fact most of time the people who are toxic in your life seem more like annoyances than they do enemies. But, don’t let that fool you, they are impacting your ability to live your best life possible.
Just like in the quote I mentioned above “If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas,” we will become more like what we are around, but it could just be an annoying itch. You’ll walk away from the dogs but you’ll have to still deal with the fleas, even if you’ve travelled miles away.
Being InTOXICated Feels Good at First
We don’t think about it often, but the word clinical word for being “buzzed” or drunk is intoxicated. It means you’re operating under the effects of a toxic substance. In most cases, it’s just a little bit of toxicity and it’s manageable, if not enjoyable for some.
Mild toxic exposure with drugs, alcohol or even people can leave us feeling numb to our own issues and forgetting about the troubles we may be experiencing in life. But when we simply mask our troubles, we find we have to put that mask on again every single day or we’ll have to face the reality of the person in the mirror.
Most people would agree and science has proven, when we’re inTOXICated, we’re impaired to some degree. For some it’s a slower reaction time to what’s going on around them. For others their judgement may be reduced and more prone to making bad decisions.
This same situation occurs when we’re inTOXICated by the poisonous people around us. We’re not as agile or quick on our feet and we may miss opportunities. We also may find that we’re so enveloped by their drama that we aren’t thinking clearly and make our own bad decisions.
It’s Not Just Self-Preservation
Let’s be honest, what kind of world would we have if we all just tossed aside anyone who hindered our own selfish ambitions? In fact, as much as we think focusing on our own desires is what brings happiness, it’s really those people who are the most miserable.
Think about someone in your life who just despises the life they’re living. I’m sure you have someone in mind. Now ask yourself “is that person more or less focused on their own desires most of the time?” I can not think of one situation in my life where the miserable person is someone who is a giver to those around them. They’re always, without fail, someone who is always looking to get more for themselves.
So, we have to learn to strike a balance and help those who are working to get better. There’s a big difference between dragging and walking with someone up a hill. When you walk together, you can help each other get over the more difficult areas, but when you’re dragging them, the first difficult ledge you come to will have you both tumbling to the bottom.
Let the professionals come in and help those who refuse to improve things for themselves. You can stand at the top, encourage them, let them know you’re there if they need you to call for help, or even throw a rope down to them so they can pull themselves up, but don’t go down and get them. It’s not going to end well for either of you.