■ text by Bartosz Och | photo from Canva


“Who you spend time with is who you really become”—I am sure you’ve heard this a million times before, but there is actually some research to back this theory up. In Darren Hardy’s book, “The Compound Effect”, he cites a 25-year long study done by social psychologist Dr. David McLennan from Harvard University, and, at the end of those 25 years, he found that what he calls ‘your reference groups’ (just a fancy name for your friends and your homies) determines up to 95 percent of your success in life. That’s a lot. But life is a big term so let’s break that down. What we are talking about here are those key areas: your health, your relationships, your spirituality, your finances, and your emotions. It even influences the little stuff: the way we walk, the way we talk, what we believe, what we do, how we treat other people, and even how we dress.

Here is the problem. A lot of us do have negative or toxic people in our lives, either because we have been friends with them for so long, because we think they’ll change, or because we think we don’t deserve any better. But who you spend time with is really who you become. So if you want to have a kick-ass life, it might be time to drop them and move on.

So how can we make this process as easy and painless as possible? The first thing you may want to do is decide. Is this person or a group of people really benefiting me? Do they bring out the best in me? Are they building me up or are they tearing me down? It doesn’t make you a selfish person, but someone who cares about their own well-being by creating and enjoying the kind of life that you want to have.

Once you have decided, even though you may really care about that person, the second thing you want to do is to distance yourself and let go of that relationship. And it all might seem over simplistic to just say “let go and distance yourself” because a lot of the times it’s easier said than done. I remember having a friend that I really cared about but who was constantly jealous of my happiness which led me to believe they didn’t wish me well. It was also all of the snarky remarks and jabs that were hurtful. And I consider myself an understanding and caring person. I know everyone’s got their own battles to fight and their own junk to deal with, but it got to the point where I didn’t even know anything nice they occasionally said was true. So if who you spend time with is who you become, I questioned if this is a person I want to be more like? And if I was being honest with myself the answer was no. So long story short it wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. It was worth to commit to the higher standard for myself because I really do believe that in life you get what you tolerate. So if you are tired of being treated like crap or being walked over, then don’t tolerate that anymore and make the changes so that your life reflects that.

Now, if you really want to go places, the third thing you want to do is to start surrounding yourself with awesome, empowering people, because in the same way that negative, toxic, and pessimistic people bring you down, bearing on people who excite you, who inspire you, who are making shit happen, who are loving, is going to rub off and it’s going to bring you up. I know some of you have been looking around seeing tumbleweeds roll by like you don’t know anybody like that. If that’s the case for you, then start to embody the qualities that you want to see in other people because as you do, you begin to attract those people into your life.

If you decided that this person or this group of people really aren’t healthy or good for you to be around, then start to distance yourself and let go of that relationship trusting that they have got their own path and you have got yours. And as you do so, start to surround yourself with awesome people who love you, who bring you up, and who bring out the best in you. It’s going to make a huge difference in the quality of your life.

Do you think it’s important to take action and get rid of toxic people from your life? Would you completely burn the bridges with such people or just distance yourself? Do you think people can change? Let me know in the comment section below. Also, if interested, read about a few reasons why I am vegan.