When it comes to self-defense, we don't usually think about the company we keep. It may seem trivial, but a big part of self-defense is choosing the right people to surround ourselves with. If you make good choices in this part of life, you are less likely to become involved in unsafe situations, and your general quality of life is likely to improve. Self-defense, after all, is not just about physical techniques like punches or kicks: it also has a great deal to do with our decisions and choices. When you understand this connection, you can help keep yourself, and those who depend on you, safe.
You Are The Average Of The Five People You Spend The Most Time With
Have you ever heard of the idea that we are "the average of the five people we spend the most time with?" Though it might sound cliche, to some extent it's true. Humans are very social creatures, and the people you are most often around will have a very big impact on your life. This could include things like being exposed to certain environments: a friend inviting you to go to a party you may not have attended on your own, for example. But your closest circle also influences your own behavior. Perhaps you've noticed yourself picking up on terms or phrases your friends often use after spending a lot of time together. This is not to say that any of the above is bad! However, it's an important thing to be aware of.
So, how does this relate to self-defense?
Being aware of the company you keep, and its influence on you, can help you to make more rational, well-informed decisions. If you are a college or high school student, you could decide not to attend a party in which you know underage drinking or other unsafe activities are going on, for example. But self-defense is not just about your immediate physical safety, either. It also involves your emotional and psychological well-being. Our friendships and relationships are very important because they can either shield us from, or expose us to, emotional harm and negative influences.
How Our Company Influences Us
As stated above, friends, family, and colleagues play a big part in influencing our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Psychologists refer to this as social influence, and it plays a large role in everything we believe about the world and ourselves. We unconsciously mimic the behaviors of those around us, adopting their attitudes, beliefs, and habits.
If we surround ourselves with positive, supportive, and growth-oriented individuals, their behaviors rub off on us. Their enthusiasm, resilience, and optimism can inspire us to adopt a similar attitude towards life. On the other hand, if we constantly associate with negative, pessimistic, or "toxic" individuals, these traits can seep into our behavior, dampening our spirits and hindering our personal growth. That sort of environment can effect our well-being, cause us to make unwise decisions, or increase our likelihood of getting into trouble: the proverbial "running with the wrong crowd" or "in the wrong place at the wrong time."
The Shield of Positive Relationships
The importance of cultivating positive relationships cannot be overstated. They serve as a barrier against stress and adversity, reducing our vulnerability to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. By choosing friends who inspire us, challenge us, and support us, we set ourselves up for success. These people serve as a mirror and even a role model for us, helping us to improve our strengths and confront and overcome our weaknesses.
When we are distressed or down, true friends offer emotional support, helping us cope with the situation rather than spiraling down into negative thoughts. They can provide constructive criticism, helping us to grow and improve. They understand our boundaries and respect our personal space, promoting a healthy balance in the relationship.
Surrounding Yourself With The Right People
Recognizing and Letting Go of Toxic Relationships
With all this in mind, recognizing toxic relationships is very important. Negative or problematic relationships can drain our energy, lower our self-esteem, and hamper our growth. Signs of such relationships include constant criticism, lack of respect for boundaries, manipulation, and emotional abuse.
Letting go of, or slightly distancing ourselves from, such relationships can be difficult, but it might be necessary. By keeping away from toxic individuals, we protect our mental and emotional health. We free up space to form more positive relationships, which can greatly enhance our quality of life and help find the encouragement to live in a more healthy way.
A Proactive Approach
So, how can someone build this circle of positive influence? It begins with self-reflection and a conscious effort to seek positive company. Make an effort to surround yourself with individuals who uplift you and encourage your growth. Choose friends who are empathetic, respect your boundaries, and exhibit positivity. It might mean letting go of long-term relationships that no longer serve your growth, but remember, this is a form of self-defense.
This doesn't mean that we should avoid healthy criticism or instruction! Sometimes growth means being challenged about mistakes, flaws, or shortcomings, and friends or family can sometimes have a better understanding of these than we do ourselves. But if you find yourself stuck in a pattern of life that seems unhealthy, negative, or unsupportive, take a look at your immediate circle and ask yourself how things are going. If there are other people or groups that, having spent time with, you noticed a positive difference in your life, perhaps it is worth spending more time with them. We can't do everything on our own, and this is even less so when we are not receiving the support, love, friendship, or companionship that we need.
Physical self-defense teaches us to protect ourselves from external threats. The company we keep can be just as important, protecting us from emotional and mental harm (as well as the potential for trouble). By consciously choosing positive, uplifting, and growth-oriented relationships, we create a powerful shield against negativity and dangerous situations. This is self-defense – an empowering tool that allows us to grow, thrive, and navigate life's ups and downs with resilience. Remember, who you hang out with is not just about companionship; it's also about defending your well-being.