The one thing I see repeatedly with ultra-successful people in any profession is that they are intentional about who they surround themselves with. Are you?

You are what you hear

“Why don’t you get a real job?”

“You’re wasting your time on that.”

“You’ll never make any money doing that.”

I’d heard all of those by the age of twenty-five. I’ve never been like “other” people who could submit themselves to a life in a cube. In fact, I never fully understood the term “real job.” I was always the one who chased my dreams and took risks.

And anytime you do something outside of the norm, people will question you. They will roll their eyes at you, make fun of you, and try to drag you down to their level. The funny thing about people that never chase their dreams or live up to their potential is that they will stop at nothing to make sure no one else does either. Rather than aspire to reach new heights and look to others as role models, they only see you through eyes of envy.

What Do You Do About Your Critics?

It’s so easy to get discouraged when others speak negatively about you, your dreams, or your plans.

I’ve written before about the best way to handle your critics. The short version is that you leave them. You have no time for negative people who do nothing but try to sabotage your dreams and your self-improvement.

Successful people intentionally surround themselves with positive, affirming supporters.

All of the greats have heard the same negative words I heard from my family, friends, and others. What sets them apart is that they ignored these comments and intentionally surrounded themselves with positive, affirming supporters.

When I heard those words from friends, I got new friends. When I heard them from family members, I spent less time with those family members. I ignored them and then distanced myself from them.

You Are What You Hear

You are what you hear, for better or worse. The most important words you hear all day are the ones you speak to yourself. If you speak negative words about yourself, you will get negative results. It’s simply how we are wired. You know that you have 100% control over those words, but what about the words of others?

The same is true with the words of others. For the most part, you get to choose what you hear others say about you. If others around you are constantly questioning your dreams, achieving them is almost impossible. If the people you choose to surround yourself with are always discouraging, negative, and making fun of you, success is very difficult.

You can’t choose your family, but you can choose how much time you spend with them. And you can control the conversation and how you respond to their criticism. That’s what Jack Canfield and Denis Waitley did.

You can, however, choose your friends and with whom you associate, so choose them wisely. Be very picky about the people with whom you talk business or personal dreams. Share your goals selectively, as Michael Hyatt suggests. Choose what blogs and forums you read carefully. Be careful about what you listen to on the radio. There’s a reason why I rarely watch or listen to the news or talk radio. I simply could not handle the negativity anymore and it was causing me stress I don’t need.

You can’t choose your family, but you can choose how you respond to their negativity.

5 Steps to Overcome Negative Relationships

If you are surrounded by negative, discouraging people, here are five steps to help you remove those relationships as much as possible and replace them with the right ones.

1. Be selective about the time you spend with negative people.

Limit the time you spend with certain people to times when you can afford to deal with them. Don’t start your day off with them, avoid them during the work day as much as possible, and pick times when their negativity won’t affect you as much or isn’t as costly.

This might mean limiting time with certain family members to large gatherings, for instance, when you can quickly escape to other more positive family members. It could mean only meeting with certain co-workers right before lunch, when you can easily take a break to recover.

2. Schedule recovery time from negative people.

To piggyback on the first step, if you must talk with negative people, make sure you schedule recovery time.

This might mean that you make sure to listen to something positive right after a trip to your in-laws. Or it might include scheduling time to a positive friend right after a meeting with a negative co-worker.

Recovery time is important, so build it in to your schedule.

3. Start the day right.

When you start the day off positive, it shields you from the negative influences of others throughout the day.

I could list a hundred suggestions here (in fact, I might one day) but find what works for you. Here are five that might work for you:

  • A particular book that inspires you.
  • Affirmations and positive declarations.
  • An uplifting audio message.
  • A conversation with a positive friend.
  • Simply smiling first thing in the morning.

4. Practice the 3-for-1 Rule.

This is an idea I stole from Denis Waitley. For every one negative person in his life, he surrounded himself with three positive people. So, for him, that meant that in order to spend time with his negative mom, he needed three others building him up. For you, that might mean you need to call a friend or two before and another one or two after being around your negative family members. Tell them you are about to meet with your family and they’ll be ready with a pep talk afterwards.

5. Remove the people you can remove.

You can’t choose family and you often can’t choose co-workers, but you can choose pretty much everyone else.

It might be time to end a negative friendship.

Can you think of one negative person in your life that you can remove from your circle of friends? It’s time to end that relationship.

The key to hearing more positive words about yourself is to be on guard for negative influences. Choose to surround yourself with positive, encouraging people. Choose to be a part of groups that talk about what is possible, not about what is impossible.

Ignore the nay-sayers and seek out people who actually help. Seek out people who have made it to where you want to be.

If you do that intentionally, it won’t be too long before you’ll be the one encouraging others.

Are you selective in choosing the people you surround yourself with?

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2 thoughts on “You Are What You Hear

  1. Steve Daniel says:

    I have always been naturally selective. I believe that comes from years of being a preacher’s kid. The church world is full of people that have the Eeyore Syndrome (I swear this is a legitimate disease), and those looking for the next handout (not to be mistaken with a help up with which I have no issues). By being the PK, I learned that you can pretty quickly tell who is going to be an asset and who will become a liability. Those that are charity and those that are charity cases. My best friend says I have a gift of discernment. I just say I don’t have time to waste on those who are only takers, and that especially goes to those that just take my energy and positivity. I haven’t been wrong too many times, but when I was, I got rid of those people as quick as possible.
    My motto is, “It’s your life, you can decide what trash you allow people to dump in it!” You must get those negative people out of your life, because negativity is twice as contagious as positive energy and twice as deadly.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Love it Steve…and you are right. Eeyore Syndrome is VERY real 🙂

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