One of the trickiest and most important life skills we can learn is how to have healthy relationships. Relationships are the building blocks of our lives. Those of us interested in Personal Development or Spiritual Evolution know that the most important relationship we can have is the one with ourselves. Yet throughout our path of growth, we can hit snags in the road when the people in our life don’t see eye-to-eye with the changes we are making. “You Are Who You Hang With” is an old saying that can be taken several ways, and today we’ll look at it from the angle of how it affects our journey of growth and change. Specifically, we’ll look at how it might be holding you back.

Our Friends as Reflections

Here’s some brutal truth: You surround yourself with people who abuse you about as much as you abuse yourself. You may want to let that sink in for a minute. If there are people in your life treating you in a way that you don’t appreciate, it is merely an outer reflection of the way you treat yourself. Of course, the flip side of this is really good news: You also surround yourself with people who give you about as much love as you give yourself! So if you find yourself in a circle of generosity, respect, acceptance and appreciation, know that you had to have given it to yourself first or you wouldn’t be able to see it, attract it, or accept it. Congratulations! For those of you who don’t find yourself surrounded by people loving you up and lifting you up, moving forward will be even more difficult as long as those people are still close. And they will always be a reflection of how you treat yourself. Luckily, how you treat yourself can be changed.

Where We Get Stuck

So what happens when we start to abuse ourselves less? What happens when we increase our self love and our self confidence and step into our power? This is where relationships get tricky. Since we’ll only put up with about as much abuse as we dish out to ourselves, as we grow we’ll naturally feel less and less comfortable with abusive and damaging behaviors from the people close to us. In my experience over the last 12 years, during this process one of two things happens:

  • Your loved ones unconsciously (or consciously in some cases) shift their treatment of you. As you let go of certain abuses of you, so do they. The relationship grows closer, and there is more room for both people to be authentically who they are. This ride isn’t always without bumps, but the two of you are committed enough to the relationship itself to move through the renegotiation period.
  • Your loved ones get mad! They make up dramas that may or may not have anything to do with what is going on. They make it obvious they are not willing to treat you in the new way by their behavior. They may not frame it this way, but in reality, you have broken an unspoken agreement to continue to put up with their abuses, and if they’re not willing to change, they’ll blame the disintegration of the friendship fully on you. This experience can be very painful, especially if you care a lot about the person or have long-standing beliefs in loyalty at all cost.


Give Yourself Permission

There are many tools, techniques, and tips to utilize during this period. My biggest advice is to give yourself permission to be at the top of your list. You aren’t saying you don’t love someone by deciding that they aren’t a good fit for your life anymore. You’re merely saying that you love YOU more. This isn’t selfish, it is self-preserving. If there are people in your life that aren’t a source of inspiration and encouragement, or who have become a drain or a drama, isn’t it time to look at why they’re still there? Aren’t you worthy of more? Well, I believe that you are. I believe that you are worthy of being surrounded only by people who have your best interests in mind, even if it isn’t what they agree with. People who empathize and listen when you’re down, and cheer from the sidelines when you’re up. And who knows, not allowing someone to treat you like crap anymore may be just the thing they need to change their ways. As you give yourself permission for a better life, you shine the light for others and give them permission as well. So, look around you….. who are you hanging with?