We do not move through our days alone. We are social creatures. Jim Rohn says, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”
The people we surround ourselves with are the biggest influence on our behavior, attitudes, and results. The people we spend the most time with shape who we are. Yet, over time we get complacent with our networks and relationships. We must always be aware of the people we allow into our lives. Do these people elevate and uplift us with their presence and company? Or, do these people constantly encroach on our space and time, focusing on negativity, gossip, and problems from their lives? Do these people inspire us to be our greatest selves? Or, do these people try to pull us down all the time? Do we want more or less of these people?
But, how do you succeed at this?
Take Control: Create Your “Tortoise Shell”
Tortoises are among the slowest creatures on this planet. That makes them vulnerable to their predators. While they cannot run fast and escape their predators, nature has given them another defense mechanism – their protective shell. So instead of trying to run, they merely retract into their shells, drawing their legs, tail, and head into this protective bubble. This makes it difficult for their predators to attack them.
In our lives, there is a never-ending demand for our presence and participation in dinners, coffee meetups, phone calls, WhatsApp conversations, parties, dropping in uninvited, and whatnot. While some of these invitations are welcome, most of them come from the gossipmongers and sympathy gaining section of our network. Get this straight – you can’t hang out with negative people and expect to have a positive life.
When an unwanted invitation shows up for me, I get into my “tortoise shell” – my rock-solid defense mechanism. I simply retract myself from all the disturbances – make my phone silent, do not answer or return the calls. Every time your phone rings, you shouldn’t be obligated to answer it. Exit your never-ending chatter in WhatsApp groups. Inform your friends not to send you group invitations. Come up with good excuses not to hang out. I often use “I don’t” over “I can’t” as a convincing reply. An “I can’t” can seem a bit iffy and might cause the other person to feel that he or she could get it their way with some persuasion. Another good way is to replace a simple “No” with “Not Now,” or “No and Instead.” It helps in rejecting proposals more convincing.
More importantly, when you are in your shell, stop worrying about the consequences of your responses. Let them talk about you behind your back. Please stop worrying about them. Period.
P.S. This excerpt is from my book, The Winning You: Master Your Focus and Avoid Distractions. You can check out the book here.