Imagine you wanted to quit drinking.
You got so fed up with being drunk all the time and doing stupid things.
So, you genuinely want to quit.
You wholeheartedly decide that you are not going to drink again.
But there’s one problem.
You live in a bar!
Your friends are usually either drunk or want to get drunk.
Alcohol is very accessible and everyone around you uses it.
You might be able to go a few hours or a few days without drinking, depending on your will power.
But, let’s face it, you will drink again. And it’s just a matter of time.
It’s not because you don’t want to quit.
And it’s not because of your will power, either.
It’ simply because you are living in a fucking bar!!
So, if you think that the people around you don’t affect you in any way, then think again.
If you think the environment you are in and your friends can’t influence you, try breathing under water.
The people you spend a lot of time with will end up affecting the way you think, feel, and behave.
There’s this saying that you are the sum-up of the 5 people you spend most of your time with. And although it’s a bit cliché nowadays, it’s true.
Pick your friends carefully. You don’t want to spend time with people who will bring you down.
In this article, I will talk about 3 types of people you shouldn’t hang around with. Not only can they bring you down, but also they can damage your well-being and the way you see life in profound ways.
I picked those 3 types because their damage is kind of subtle. Many of us don’t pay much attention to their demoralizing behavior and ways of thinking.
Here we go.
(Note: this article is not here to judge people who behave this way. We all, to some extent, can act in such disempowering ways from time to time. It’s just a gentle reminder that we need to surround ourselves with people who empower us.
If, reading through the article, you realize, ‘oh! This is me! I behave this way,’ you need to realize that we all can act in such ways. We all probably did at some point. The key is to recognize this and start behaving in a better manner. And give this article a read, too.)
The sarcastic friend
Believe it or not, sarcasm is not the same as having a good sense of humor.
Here’s how the word ‘sarcasm’ is defined in the Oxford dictionary of English:
The use of irony to mock or convey contempt.
ORIGIN: . . . from Greek sarkazein ‘tear flesh’, in late Greek ‘gnash the teeth, speak bitterly’ (from sarx, sark- ‘flesh’).
It’s a form of bullying and a socially accepted way of putting down someone. What’s socially accepted isn’t always healthy, just so that you know.
I talked about this topic in my book and in this article. And I made a video specifically about it, here it is:
You don’t want to be around someone who is sarcastic all the time. People like this have insecurities they can’t deal with. And they have a yearning desire to feel superior and as though they are good enough.
Plus, what are you getting by hanging around someone who makes fun of/insults you and everyone/everything around you? Especially if they are hurting other people. And especially if you feel bad, at any level, when around them.
Can you tell them about your failures or your bad news?
You don’t want your bad news used as jokes’ materials.
Can you tell them your good news?
Probably not, too.
They will feel insecure and maybe even jealous. And when they do, they will take that on you by their mean jokes. Or just congratulate you in a joking manner that downplays the significance of your good news.
That’s not someone you want around as a friend.
And all in all, they are bullies. Even if they don’t bully you, look around and you will see they mistreat a lot of people by their mean jokes.
Bullies. That’s what they are. They will bring you down because of their tendencies to just bring everything and everyone down as an attempt to feel superior. Why the hell do you want them in your life?!
The infant adult
Those are adults who are not acting like adults.
Someone might ask, what does it mean to be an adult in the first place?
Well, what does it mean to be a child?
Look at children. They have no responsibilities, they are taken care of, and they just want to have fun.
They use their imagination to create worlds that don’t exist and live in these imaginary worlds.
But they are less likely to survive, especially as infants, without the supervision of a responsible adult.
And that’s totally fine. We love children! They are magical and angelic, though they are noisy and naughty sometimes.
But you can’t stay a child forever. It isn’t pleasant to you and to those around you.
So, there’s such a thing as ‘being an adult’.
Understanding how children act in the world can give you a general sense of what being an adult means.
We can say that being an adult is about accepting the responsibility for taking care of yourself and those you care about.
Some may define that as being independent or so on. But it’s not enough to be independent or live on your own. It’s also about your mentality and your ability to accept your share of the suffering in the world and be responsible for taking care of yourself and those you care about.
The infant adult throws all this away and just refuses to grow up.
Sure, they are not running around in their underwear or puking in the toilet, unless they are drunk, but they are acting in irresponsible ways that are not appropriate for their age anymore.
Being clueless, aimless, and apprehensive at 22 can be OK. But if you are still clueless, aimless, and apprehensive at 30, you are an infant adult; you refused to grow up and you refused to make the necessary sacrifices. And that’s ugly.
You have to make some sacrifices. Being sacrificial is about accepting the responsibility for painful things about life that would get more painful if you didn’t accept responsibility for dealing with them.
Infant adults refuse to accept the responsibility for that. They refuse to sacrifice comfort, instant gratification, and lying to themselves. Being comfortable is more important to them than anything.
They are the people who want to stay where they are forever. They probably aren’t doing anything useful with their lives and aren’t willing to.
Those are the kind of people who have a bad life but aren’t doing anything about it. Doing anything about their lives means them adopting more (and new) responsibilities, which is scary to them.
So, they don’t grow up. They live in fairylands of grandiose would-be dreams that don’t require any sacrifices. Or imaginary victimization and chains they can’t break free from.
Be careful of such people. You will be one of them in no time if you hang around them.
The helpless victim
Those are very similar to the previous type; they have issues with taking responsibility for themselves and their lives.
But they are a bit different.
Victims believe that the world is oppressing them. And they fail in seeing a connection between their actions and what happens to them.
In addition to their refusal to accept their responsibility, they have what is called ‘learned helplessness’.
Their lives usually aren’t in order. You can’t have your life in order with such mentalities and attitudes.
There might be a lot of chaos in their life, in fact. It can make you feel sorry for them or even genuinely emphasize with them.
After all, you can excuse them once you know how bad they have it.
But nothing seems to work for them. Their problems are always bigger than them. And they are oppressed.
Despite having a screwed-up life, they actually, on some level, enjoy this. They enjoy being a victim.
Believe it or not, there are benefits and privileges associated with being a victim! The first of them is having no responsibilities whatsoever. And that means you don’t have to (or you can’t) do anything about your situation.
Is there a better justification for inaction, besides nihilism, than this?
Also, being a victim and having no responsibilities mean that no one expects anything from you. Heck, you don’t even expect anything from yourself.
With responsibility and power come expectations. Well, expectations are tiring. And who wants that when it’s easier to complain than to act.
Last but not least, victims get attention and sympathy and, in so cases, empathy. That can be addictive to some people. It keeps them where they are knowing they can get this easily and automatically by being this way.
“It’s not my fault. It’s their fault. I can’t do anything about that. They should fix it. Until they do, I am screwed. To be not screwed, I need to do a lot of work. But by being screwed, I get to enjoy some benefits. Not a bad bargain, right?”
It’s a bad bargain because they are trading their resilience, the ability to take action, and the ability to accept responsibility for their life for things that make them feel good at the moment. Losing what they are trading off is a bad medium to long term plan.
Now, you don’t want to become a victim yourself by adopting those ways of thinking. Be careful, for I believe none of us is immune to acting in delinquent and disempowering ways sometimes.
And you don’t want to associate yourself with such people.
In the end, someone who is irresponsible, helpless, and who just blames his bad circumstances on everything around them isn’t someone you want to associate yourself with.
For the obvious reason that they are going to drag you down. And for the more covert, subtle reason that they might want to see you trying to save them (and that you might actually try!).
As noble as it might seem, it’s not a good idea, neither for you nor for them.
Seeing someone trying to save them could be nice. But it feeds into what makes them stay where they are.
There’s a difference between someone who wants to be helped and someone who wants to be saved.
Those who want to be helped have already started helping themselves. They are interested in solutions. And they are willing to exert effort. More importantly, they have recognized their role in making things better (or less bad) in their lives.
On the other hand, those who want to be saved are interested in someone who does all the work for them. Or, this is more common, they are interested in perpetuating their victimization because of the benefits we described above. Like, who wants to sacrifice those benefits for actually getting up and exerting effort?
And ultimately, most of them are not convinced yet that they should be in a better place or that they need help. Even with their whining and complaining.
And until someone believes they should rescue themselves, you cannot help them nor rescue them.
You cannot help those who don’t help themselves, let alone save them.
Should you try to rescue them, you are more likely to drown with them. You are more likely to fail. And if you do manage to ‘change them’, the induced change won’t be genuine because it’s manipulated rather than genuinely wanted by the person. And this will fire back sooner or later.
If you have friends who act this way, it’s not a wise idea to stick around them. You will be affected badly. Either by becoming a victim or by playing the role of the sacrificial hero who eventually sacrifices everything for nothing.
(Note: if someone you care about is playing the victim role, I understand that it can be paralyzing. Here are a few tips if the person is so important to you: 1) don’t try to change them; people resist being changed. 2) lead by example. Make yourself better. And do it for yourself, for it’s what you have control over.
This may inspire them to become better. Or it might not. If it does, great. If not, then you know what you have to do.)
Leave the bar!
To sum everything up, the people around you can and will affect you.
Pick them carefully.
Avoid those 3 subtle, but utterly damaging, types.
And last but not least, watch yourself carefully. Don’t become one of them.
You can become one by hanging around them long enough. Or merely by picking toxic beliefs and behaviors and starting internalizing them.
But more likely, if you are acting in these ways, that there are such people in your life.
Your responsibility is to watch yourself, lest you slip into being this way. And then to make sure you hang around people who bring the best of you.