The power of your environment is very, very real. Especially with regard to the company you keep.

We tend to talk about this in terms of the positive. You’re the average of the five people closest to you; so seek those who elevate you, and spend as much time with them as possible. Awesome. No argument here.

It is equally important, however, to look at the things from the opposite direction:

Negativity in your environment and your circle causes real damage.

Often, however, we can’t see it.

The insidious nature of “toxic creep” can cloud the objectivity necessary to recognize that certain relationships are doing more harm than good. This is something against which you must consciously fight.

Toxicity affects you in profound ways, from your emotional state to your very perception of reality, and few attributes are more valuable than the perception to recognize it. My struggle with depression has required me to actively cultivate the ability to spot and directly react negativity in various ways.

That sometimes requires severing relationships.

Easier said than done, of course. We’re all resistant to change, no matter how necessary—the lure of the familiar seems preferable to upheaval, leaving us loathe to make the obvious choice.

But we must. Even if it means excising people from our lives.

Nothing is harder. But nothing is more important.

And nothing I say will make it easier. Still, it must done.

From all perspectives—emotional, psychological, social—there comes a point at which a culling is requisite for both short-term happiness and long-term growth.

Cutting anyone off is painful, but there’s a silver lining, it’s this: in my experience, there’s an equilibrium to life, and the Universe tends to balance the scales.

There’s a quote I love that encapsulates this well.

“Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.”

Removing one person creates space for another—usually, you’ll find that that new person brings you up instead of pulling you down.

So, really, it’s only by excising the negativity that we can ultimately create the tribe we need to thrive.

Nothing counts until it's done. I'll teach you to finish.
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About The Author
John Romaniello is an author, consultant, and coach who helps people and brands find their voice through writing. He's published hundreds of articles, dozens of courses, and one New York Times bestselling book. Might wanna check out his Instagram, he's pretty easy on the eyes.