Who Do You Surround Yourself With?

As a volunteer mentor with Winning Futures, a Warren, Michigan-based non-profit mentoring and goal-setting program that serves over 600 youth, I spend an hour each week working with high school students to help them develop their five-year strategic plan for the future. This is my second year as a Winning Futures mentor, and I have found it to be an extremely rewarding experience. In a session a few weeks ago, we helped the students identify their most important values, and we talked about the five people who they spend the most time with and who have the most influence in their lives. These people could be family members, friends, teachers, etc. The students then conducted an honest evaluation to determine if each person they identified was a positive influence who supported them and tried to build them up, or if they were a negative force who drained them of their energy and tore them down. We are the combined sum of the people we surround ourselves with and spend the majority of our time with. I was totally impressed with the outlook these girls have at such an early age. They said that they don’t spend time with people who drag them down, and if people don’t like them for who they are, then they don’t hang around with them.

This led me to think about the people that I choose to surround myself with. I can honestly say that now that I have the freedom to choose who I work with and spend time with, I no longer have anyone in my life that drains my energy and drags me down. In fact, I had a gratitude celebration with my closest friends and colleagues a couple of weeks ago, and I am truly blessed and grateful to have so many fantastic people in my life who are positive, supportive, and who build me up and energize me.

I would invite you to think about who in your life builds you up and who drags you down. What can you do to show the people who build you up how grateful you are to have them in your life? How can you minimize your exposure to people who drag you down and not allow yourself to be negatively affected by them? Remember, it’s not what others say or do that matters, it’s our response to them that really counts. Also, no one else’s opinion of us is as important as our own opinion of ourselves.

 “Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.” – Oprah Winfrey

“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” – Brene Brown

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