Removing Negative People from Your Life
Last lets talk about negative people. For most people someone specific comes to mind when you read the phrase “negative people”.
How People Structure Relationships
Robin Dunbar was a professor of evolutionary psychology with a theory that humans cannot maintain more than 150 friendships, including 5 close friendships, at any given time. You can find an article that talks more about his study here.
Out of these 150 relationships only 5 are close friendships and the number of friends in each circle increases as emotional connection decreases. An example would be 5 close friends, 20 moderately close friends, 50 friends, and 75 distant friends.
In this articles we will talk about which of these friends are positive and negative influences on your life. When I speak about removing a friend from your life or moving them to an outer circle of friendship you can reference the above image to have a visualization of what I mean.
Who Aren’t We Talking About
The people we are going to discuss are not people who try to stop you from running with a half-baked idea. These are not people who offer you constructive criticism or somehow give you some feedback that can potentially be perceived as negative, but for a true and logic driven reason. If someone is providing you negative feedback that is driven by logic, please listen and consider it.
Who We ARE Talking About – Negative Nancy
They are the person that shoots down your ideas when you are excited about starting a blog giving no reason or logic.
They take and take from relationships without ever giving anything back.
People who do nothing but drain your energy and leave you unhappy and unmotivated after most conversations. A good test for determining if someone is creating a lot of negativity in your life is to present them with an idea you have, ESPECIALLY if it requires work, but will improve your life.
Most of the time it will not even take 2 minutes for them to poke holes in your ideas (using subjective or emotional reasoning), talk about how hard it would be, and discourage you from chasing the idea.
Who We ARE Talking About – Gods of Chaos
You will also find some people in your life that simply cause chaos. No matter where they go or who they are with they always seem to manipulate your environment for the worse. Sometimes its a poor attitude, spreading rumors, over reacting, or maybe they are just an asshole. No matter what it is, chances are you can find someone like this in your life causing nothing but pain and destruction.
People who are negative in these ways are similar to harmful parasites. I am not saying they need to be destroyed, but in my experience they do need to be removed or placed in an “outer circle” of friends. If you had anything in your physical body that was causing you pain, heart ache, or simply sucking away your happiness you would remove it. The same should be done with people.
I will state again – It is VERY important that you are able to make the distinction between people who add negativity to your life and those who provide good criticism. This is definitely an art and can take some time to hone.
Why It Is Important
Jim Rohn has a famous quote, “We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with”. The friends that you allow in your closest circle and even the circle of friends surrounding it can have a dramatic effect on who you become. I am not saying that your environment 100% makes you who you are because we can make decisions to leave, change, or perceive our environments differently. Regardless of your environment, you have control over your mind (less any disease or ailment).
What I am saying is that when you choose negative people to be a part of your inner circle it is an active decision to create a negative environment around you. Not only are you allowing external forces to be a variable on who you become, you are choosing them.
I would suggest that if you have any doubt you look at the person you admire the most, your role model. Then look at the people they spend the most time with. What is their attitude like? Who do they surround themselves with? You can then use this data to create a model for relationships to help you become the person you want to be.
Some people might find it necessary for someone to be removed from their life due to a single infraction that breaks trust. I am not really a part of this camp. If I had a very close friend who I spent years with and they betrayed me once they might have to work their way back to my inner circle. However, in most cases I wont cut them out of my life.
Charity should be another consideration. While you might surround yourself with a lot of negative people for the short term they likely are not part of your inner circle. Heck, they probably are not a friend at all in most cases.
Last, I want to make it clear that not everyone who is in your 150 friends is going to contribute a lot to your life in general. You should not cut them out simply due to lack of contribution, chances are they will naturally find their way to the outer circles.
In conclusion, everyone has negative influences in their lives. It is impossible for all of them to be removed, nor do I think all of them should be. However, you should GREATLY limit the number of negative influences that you allow into your inner circles of friendship. You do not always have to cut negative people out, but you should certainly keep them distant.