This article is reprinted from Andrea’s blog. Please visit for more helpful articles.
Lately I’ve been hearing a lot of people talking about how they should surround themselves with people that are successful if they want to be successful. Or that they need to be around spiritual people if they are on a spiritual path. Or that they need to cut off negative people from their lives if they want a more peaceful life.
This concept usually intrigues me. Is it really important that we be around people that are like us or that aspire to similar things as us? Is this an important component for our happiness or for our growth? I tend to think that it’s not necessarily so. We can pretty much hang out with all sorts of people if we have the right attitude. Actually, it’s probably good for us be around people that are different from us, even around the so called “negative people”.
Anatomy of selecting relationships
In terms of relationships, we pretty much select who we would like to be friends with. It’s different from family since we don’t get to pick our relatives. Then most people would say why not take advantage of this and choose to be constantly surrounded by “wonderful people?” Is there a point in our lives when this is no longer important?
1. Hanging out with people like us (selective friendships)
As we start to grow and transform, we tend to want to be surrounded by people that share the same views. In Buddhism, the term “sangha” can be loosely interpreted as a community or group of people who share a common goal, vision, or purpose.
Hanging out with our sangha can be a good step forward since we start to bring into our lives people who reinforce our newly adopted beliefs. When we change our vibration, we want to be around people of the same vibration. In many cases, people that carry our old vibration naturally end up falling away from our lives. And that is perfectly fine.
Some of us may end up intentionally cutting people off from our lives so we can adopt healthier behaviors. This is especially true in cases of alcoholism and drug addiction — when you need to get some distance from your old friends who indulge in the behavior that you’re trying to make a clean break from.
2. Hanging out with anyone (non-selective friendships)
Once we have already adopted our new beliefs, have established our growth, or have our new behaviors engrained in us, the idea of needing to be with like people is probably no longer necessary.
There will come a time when everyone becomes an extension of the love that you have inside. In this case, everyone is equally beautiful, awesome, and supportive of you as you are of them.
We can choose to hang out with anyone because we see everyone as love. We see their potential and we relate with them based on their true nature. All groups are the same and there is no distinction.
There have been times when I’ve been warned by others that if I worked with a certain person I was going to have a lot of trouble, because this other employee was very difficult. It has been my experience that when I see others as pure love, that’s what I get back. Therefore, the so called “trouble employee” never gave me any trouble. Instead, he actually ended up acting very helpful, and within a short period of time we became good friends.
If someone is causing us discomfort in any way, it has nothing to do with them; it has to do with how we perceive them. If I look inside I will invariably find that I’m still holding some kind of judgment towards that person. When I become totally non-judgmental in how I see them, the interaction with that person becomes pure joy.
Pitfalls of selective association
What sometimes happens, is that by choosing who we hang out with, we end up judging others. We have to hen decide whether they are worthy of being part of our sangha. By association, we classify others as either good or not good enough to be in our company. We end up judging whether they have the right vibration or attitude.
If instead, we would naturally allow people to come in and out of our lives, without judging who we think they are, the universe would naturally rearrange our relationships based on our vibration and needs. We would end up not having the need to consciously attach or detach ourselves from certain people. Instead we would enjoy all relationships and all people that cross our path.
Not judging our relationships allow us to engage with a wider group of people. In addition, it allows us to be open to what everyone has to offer us, instead of only what a certain group of people can provide. What can be better than being able to befriend the whole world?