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What Types of People are in Your Social Circle?

April 30, 2009

social_circle1The people in your life typically fall into several categories:

  1. Those with whom you share the same mechanical programs or traits (Cohorts)
  2. Those whose traits are opposite and in some ways complementary to yours (Opposites)
  3. Those who you aspire to emulate in some way (Mentors or Role Models)
  4. Those who aspire to emulate you (Proteges)
  5. Those who try to bring you down and steal your energy away (Vampires or Parasites)

Ultimately, some will fall into multiple categories, such as Cohorts that are also Vampires; and naturally, there are degrees to which people have a stake in our lives.  For example, parents have a significant stake in the lives of their children, especially during the ages of 0-18.

A big cause of psychological problems that I have witnessed in people is that they don’t have enough stake in their own lives.  They let others dominate them and just go with the herd instead of deciding for themselves.  For example, if we are too passive in a relationship, which I can certainly relate to, we give away too much power to our partners, which ultimately disempowers us; further, this passivity can breed resentment and spur passive-aggressive tendencies within us, while diminishing our self-confidence.  I coined a term five years back called CEO of Me, in order to remind people that they ought to be the executive decision-maker in their lives.  Now when it comes to being a stakeholder in the lives of others, as is the case with parents, employers, teachers, coaches, lawyers, politicians, police, and friends, it can get tricky.  People can get greedy and may not act ethically when it comes to how they handle those roles. Virtually every role comes with some type of stake in the lives of others, which is what makes a community and binds us together.

What I want to tell you right now is this.  Start taking control of your own life.  Easier said than done, I know – but we all have it in us to do so.  This does not mean to isolate yourself from the world and stop talking to your parents.  On the contrary, you need the friction of relationships, with everyone’s conflicting interests, to do ‘Your Work’ of standing your own ground and letting everyone know that you are in charge of your life.

Why don’t you make a quick Relationship Map?  Try the following –

  1. Write down the key people in your life, including those whom you interact with most frequently (at least 25 is recommended).
  2. Then, create five columns in a spreadsheet, as per the categories above (Cohorts, Opposites, etc.) and jot down what percentage (out of 100%) each person is of the character types; for example [Mom: 50% Mentor, 50% Cohort].
  3. Create two more columns called ‘Stake in My Life’ and ‘Stake in Their Lives’, where you estimate the level of influence that each of these people have in your life decisions and happiness, and vice versa; for example [Mom: 20% Stake in My Life, (I have) 10% Stake in Hers]

This may just seem like a bunch of numbers at first, but it’s more than that.  This becomes an important part of your Relationship Map, which can help bring to your awareness how you are influenced, for better or worse, by the people in your social circle.  Maybe it’s time to consider eliminating some Vampires from your life, or seeking new Mentors.  The importance of the company we keep cannot be underestimated.  Our energy is highly dependent on the interactions we have throughout the day.  Ultimately, with some conscious effort and love, we can evolve most of our relationships into healthy ones, thereby gaining Allies.  Yes, even Vampires, with a heavy dose of work on themselves, can start producing their own energy and eventually become Allies.

If the ‘Stake in My Life’ column does not show 50%+ for yourself, that is cause for deep reflection and change.  We all need to take responsibility and be at least 51% stakeholders in ourselves.  Guess what though – then you cannot blame everyone or anyone for all your problems anymore.  Are you ready for that?

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