We do not always have the privilege of choosing our associates. This unfortunate state of affairs could have devastating, life-long consequences. The best we can do is try to limit our exposure to those influences that may not be good for us. And that may require heavy sacrifices.
You may work in an emotionally poisonous environment. Besides terminating your employment with the company, there may be little you can do about it. The same is true for classmates. It is even worse when the negative influence is a live-in family member.
But there are plenty of situations when the choice of associates is entirely our own. We choose to be in certain in-groups, intimate relationships, and social circles. In the same way that we are what we eat, we are who we associate with.
Chris Brown and Lil Wayne know all about this. They associated with Harrison Garcia, known as “CEO of Purple Drank.” Garcia liked to hang out with famous celebrities, posed with guns, and is now awaiting sentencing for selling drugs. Now the rappers are wishing they terminated their association with him sooner.
Here is why those associations matter so much:
We Sample Lifestyle Choices of Our Associates
The reason shared playlists are so important to music streaming services is that the best way to discover new music is through friend recommendations. We listen to what our friends listen to. At the very least, we are open to trying a sample of what our friends listen to.
Every heroin and cocaine rehab specialist knows that the same is also true for bad habits. Bad associations are often what get people into addiction. And good relationships are key to helping them escape. BLVD treatment centers put it this way:
Loneliness is a big contributing factor for why people develop substance use disorders in the first place and can also contribute to relapse. This is why building relationships can be the crucial piece of the recovery process you get in a treatment center as opposed to quitting on your own.
Lifestyle sampling is a normal part of human interaction. Be sure to surround yourself with people who have lifestyles worth sampling.
We Want the Approval of Our Associates
Problematic Facebook use is symptomatic of just how badly we want the approval of our associates. Some check social media while driving, which could be deadly, and it is highly illegal. Some are interacting with Facebook while in class or at work, uncaring or unaware of how it is affecting performance.
These interactions involve everything from posting pictures on Instagram, to checking the number of likes we have garnered from our previous posting. We want to make sure we are maintaining our approval rating. And if possible, we want to increase that approval rating.
It is human to seek approval from our peers. It is also human to occasionally go overboard to gain that approval. That is why it is crucial that we have peers worthy of providing external validation. Seeking validation from the wrong associates will lead to bad approval-seeking choices on our part.
Associates Are the People We Put Time and Energy Into
Each one of us only has so much time in a day, and so many days to live on this planet. We know how many hours a day has. But we haven’t a clue how many days we have. If we are living our lives with a sense of purpose, then we have put some thought into how we budget our time.
Every interaction you have with another person is either a part of that time and energy budget, or a strain on it. If you are pouring time and energy into unproductive associations, you are literally wasting your life away.
If you find that you never have time for the things that really matter in your life, it is likely that you are spending too much time chasing and maintaining the wrong associations. Instead, you need to pursue life-giving associations as apposed to life-draining associations.
At the end of the day, it is better to have one good friend than ten bad ones. Sampling the right lifestyle choices can greatly enrich our lives. Gaining approval from those worthy of providing external validation enables the kind of self-esteem that is empowering. And pouring time and energy into the right people allow us to stop watching the clock, and enjoy a life worth living.
Choosing friends wisely is a good habit to keep. Lil Wayne, Chris Brown and others are probably thinking about this right now.