Five people influence your personality, behavior

I recently read that we are each a combination of the five people we are closest to, interact with, or spend the most time with.

Think about that. Our traits, our quirks, our mannerisms, our actions vs. reactions, our habits. It’s true. We are a blend of who we are closest to. I can validate it in my own life thus far.

Low-key, honest, happy spaces, simple activities, expressions of love, and an unconditional level of care. These are how I would describe the influence of my handful of nearest and dearest.

I’m not saying you don’t have more than five people who are important in your life, it’s just that we each seem to embody certain attitudes and behaviors from five of them.

If you don’t feel you have five people who have influenced you, perhaps you haven’t been casting a wide enough net of people to learn from, grow with, and respect.

I say five friends, but those five can really be a mix of family members, friends, co-workers, mentors, or Faith leaders.

Years and years ago a wise woman once shared with me that as the years pass on, that having just a handful of quality friends is ample. It took me a while to really understand that, because I was one of those individuals who thrived in the most social of atmospheres – dozens on dozens of friends and acquaintances.

I’m not that person anymore. Looking back, I realize how shallow some of those friendships really were.

It’s my belief that these carefully selected handful of friends should feature mutual and reciprocal relationships. You both give, take, give, cherish, encourage, laugh, love and support.

From frequent check-ins to celebrating the ‘big day’, all the way to a shoulder to cry on after losing a family member – these fine few are shaping us as we speak.

In analogous terms, we’re like sponges, constantly absorbing those around us.

Their words of advice, commentary and enthusiasm, or lack thereof, gets embodied in you. They are the people you listen to, take advice from, you share perspective with, and most likely align yourself with.

I feel like my cup is full with just five quality influences. The grab bag I was pulling from five-ten years ago could be described as mix-matched.

Who are the first five people you think of? Each of us has our individual ‘code’ and we know the right spins on the safe to be our authentic selves. This includes why we allow who we have in our life and why we allow them to remain, or in the alternative, why we remove people.

“Just like atoms bouncing off each other, our social interactions are constantly shaping who we are and what we do.”*

“Social influence … doesn’t just lead us to do the same as others. Like a magnet, others can attract, but they can also repel.”*

As a refresher: You can always choose to add or remove people from your life for whatever reason you want. It’s your life. Remember the driver seat analogy? Why let anyone else take the wheel of your life?

Removing doctors, parting ways with a college friend, or stepping back from a toxic family member – no one is immune from being removed.

You can always re-route and re-align yourself. Want to be a more diverse cook? Spend more quality time with your grandma or a family friend who are legends in the kitchen. Trying to minimize your alcohol intake? Swap the nights out with the ‘cool’ individuals in order to sign up for a weekly unique class at the community college. Or set a goal to read one book per month in the comfort of your home.

If I find a doctor is not a good fit for me and my health conditions because they don’t offer advanced medical treatment, respect / active listening and acknowledgment of my conditions – then I remove that individual. I want time with my doctor, no rushing in / out. That’s not the health influence I will accept.

Allowing someone to be in my handful of influences that displays negativity, jealousy, a power-struggle mindset, or lacks the ability to maintain a mutual relationship, doesn’t work for me and it never will.

Stop and think about the five people that influence your life the most. How different are they from each other? How do they respond to things like grief, change, accomplishments, fear, or major positive change?

Do different individuals influence different aspects of your life? Do they influence these in a healthy way or in a destructive way?

My close influences certainly do impact me in a healthy way and each in different sectors of my being. A common denominator among my influences is evolvement – navigating through life’s circumstances, growing, and harboring mature perspectives.

When I look back at the girl I used to be, now with hindsight 20/20, at the time I could see the cracks in the ice. I’m so proud of myself for stepping away from the acquaintances that were – plain and simple – not right for me.

It’s so much easier to stay and not make a change by just burying yourself in your comfort zone. Trust me – been there, done that, and the other side is worth the *temporary* discomfort. Think about what you have on the line – your life.

You came into this world with a clean slate, fresh perspective, and it’s possible to regain that fresh perspective.

I think I was before my time when I made this change in my group of core influences.

It was truly just the tip of the iceberg back then. By narrowing down my group of friends, I’ve become what I believe is the person I was meant to be.

I do think a lot of them come back to a problem with boundaries.  Understanding that we all have the right to instill boundaries, which particular boundaries are important to us to lead happy lives, and enforcing those boundaries. Now when you stop to think about the influence these five individuals have on you – the imperativeness of boundaries is magnified!

Why not stand up for yourself, your health, your mind? It’s your space (emotional, mental, physical, intellectual) – how do you want to feel?

And this is where I leave you for the week – with eyes wide open on the few faces that shape who you are today.

In ten years – will your influences still be the same as today’s?

Think about the element of grace. This word and its’ meaning need to flourish in our society today. Our culture is greatly lacking in it.

Do you have anyone that brings an element of grace into your life?  I think instilling grace into our society and influencing others would really benefit everyone. To me, my grandparents displayed grace. My Mom shared with me that both of her grandmothers had a lot of grace.

Why has this trait/characteristic gone by the way side? Blossoming of societal ‘grace’ starts with understanding what it means. I thought it’d be interesting to find the socially accepted definition and one from an individual 25 years my senior.

Grace (per my elder), is a mix of things: kindness, understanding empathy, and compassion.

Cambridge Dictionary defines grace as “the quality of being pleasantly polite, or a willingness to be fair and honest.”

Who does this bring to mind in your life?

*Invisible influence: The hidden forces that shape behavior, Jonah Berger, 2016

Coming next: Marketing fads and their toll on health