Children and adolescents are warned repeatedly about the danger of caving in to peer pressure. Looking back at my own life, I see that once I became an adult I stopped believing that I could be heavily influenced by my friends. Admittedly, I thought of peer pressure in terms of experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Because I grew up seeing the destructive side of substance abuse, I had very little interest in exploring it for myself as a teenager. For a long time, I believed as long as I didn’t drink or do drugs, then peer pressure was a non-issue for me.
Wrong. Peer pressure does not end after high school. We continue to choose our friends based on shared interests. If you become a parent, then you start to make friends based on your children’s friend’s parents. If you’re not paying attention, you can easily open yourself up to influences that have nothing to do with substances and everything to do with mindset. Both can be deadly.
The way the people in your inner circle think and see the world will most definitely have an impact on you, regardless of how enlightened you are. The reason for this is simple: wherever you place your attention grows in importance to you. Whether your attention is on building a business, getting in shape, improving your communication skills, or committing to a spiritual practice, whatever you focus on expands in your life. The more you focus on it, the more of a dominant force it becomes – for better or for worse.
Spiritual evolution changes you from the inside out. And here’s the thing – once you start out on this path, you can’t unlearn the new truths you have discovered. Even if the changes you make are subtle over the course of years, eventually you will come to see you are no longer the person you used to be. You stop identifying with old thought processes and ways of interacting with the world. This is a good thing, but it can also be scary. I have found that one of the most intimidating aspects of spiritual growth is outgrowing the circle of people who are closest to you.
As we mature spiritually, we find that our interests naturally shift. Many things that used to be a big deal to you are no longer important, and the things you used to tolerate may become unbearable. This feeling can impact everything from the entertainment you like to the foods you eat, and of course, the company you keep. Although the people closest to you love and adore you, they inherently want you to remain consistent with the you that they know. If you change, it will change the dynamic of the relationship. This is inevitable, but, it does not mean it has to destroy the relationship.
It’s Okay to Change
I know change can feel scary. It seems so much safer to stay in your lovely cocoon of familiarity and comfortability… even if you’re are comfortably uncomfortable. But if you’re still reading this post, then on some level you recognize that the time to change is upon you. You have a choice to make. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’re likely to keep getting what you’ve been getting. As long as that’s okay with you, great! If you want a different experience, you’re going to have to let some things go, maybe even some relationships, in order to make room for the new.
Consider how a caterpillar follows the natural process of becoming a butterfly. She cannot be both the caterpillar and the butterfly at the same time! To transform, you must let go of rigid beliefs about who you think you are and how the world “should be”.
The circle of friends you had at a different level of consciousness were very comfortable with the way you were. They likely hold on to the beliefs you once shared in common, and they may not be ready or interested in changing. On the other hand, they may be growing at a different pace than you are. That’s okay, too! We each have our own paths. You don’t have to destroy your old life in order to build a new one. Keep on growing. As you open yourself up to new possibilities, the people who are vibrating on the same frequency as you will naturally flow into your life. Those who are not will gravitate to others who are in sync with their own vibration. Would it be ok to let go, and to let life flow?
What have you always wanted in a friendship?
In what ways do your friends influence your decisions?
What do your friends help you understand about who you are, and who you want to become?
What needs to happen in order for you to have the higher quality friendships you desire (and deserve)?
What needs to shift within you in order for you to become the type of friend you desire to have?
Finish this sentence: If I wasn’t afraid to release friendships that are no longer serving me, I would ______________.
May I release any relationship that is not healthy for me. May I trust that leaving unhealthy relationships will create space for healthier ones.