You know when you’ve been hanging around a friend for a long time and you start to pick up their slang words or their facial expressions? It happens subtlety, you normally don’t start to notice it until it’s pretty ingrained. Then suddenly it’s part of you, not just part of your friend.
These things happen to all of us and they happen on the regular. We absorb traits from those we are around the most. Sometimes it’s simple, like a phrase, sometimes it’s more complex. An example of that would be my growth in ambition. My fiance Chris is ambitious, and I’ve always teetered on the line. I’m ambitious about a few things, but for the most part good enough is good enough, but as we’ve been together my ambition has been growing. I want to do a better job at things that normally wouldn’t matter to me. I want to spend more time planning my actions instead of going with the flow. It’s a lot bigger personality change than gaining a phrase, but it’s a positive one.
Not all the things we gain are though. We gain peoples negative traits just as easily as we gain their positive ones. If we hang around a friend who is a gossip, chances are we’ll become a gossip before too long. It’s in our nature. We partake in something, we hang around something, and before long it’s a part of us too.
I’ve read a quote that says your a combination of the five people you hang around most. I think that can be debated a bit, after all, we can hang around people that we have nothing to do with. If we have coworkers we’re around we might not pick up their expressions. But I do think we become a combination of the people we engage. If your engaging with someone repetitively it doesn’t seem to matter whether you love them or hate them, you pick up on their traits. Sometimes it’s ways we don’t expect. If you engage someone you hate you might not imitate their phrasing, however you’ll probably pick up their anger or their negative view points- even if it starts being directed at them, it will soon move over to other people.
That’s not to say that you aren’t an original who carries your own traits. You will always carry things that are you and you alone, but our personalities are expansive and they have a lot of room for other, less original traits. We’re made to adapt to the environment we’re in, it’s no wonder we adapt to the people we’re around also.
The question is, whose traits are you allowing your personality to feed off of. Which traits are you fostering by the company you keep? We can’t avoid all bad traits, after all, every single human has bad traits that we could borrow or take, it’s not about avoiding them completely, it’s about being aware of them. It’s about trying to side step around them. It’s about acknowledging their existence and actively trying not to pick them up. We do that by trying to only engage in the good in others rather than the bad. It’s a lot easier said than done, but we owe it to ourselves to try.