The Power of Association: How Friends Can Lift You Up Or Drag You Down
Friends can help you or harm you
It is great to have friends. They are our confidants, our rocks our support and they define us. The importance of friends can never be over emphasized but can it be that we place too much store on friendships even to our own detriment. When friends work to lift us up and support us, there is no greater a relationship; when they constantly deride us and prevent us from achieving our dreams they can become a noose around the neck, choking your creativity and free will.
Colin Powell wrote an insightful piece on the Power of Association:
“As you grow, your associates will change. Some of your friends will not want you to go on. They will want you to stay where they are. Friends that don’t help you climb will want you to crawl. Your friends will stretch your vision or choke your dream. Those that don’t increase you will eventually decrease you”
If the power of association is so strong then it is more likely than not that we are inclined to listen to the advice of our close associates, our friends, emulate them in certain ways and share our most intimate secrets with them. The bonds of friendships are sometimes stronger than some marriages and like some marriages they can be either negative or positive. A friend, who criticizes you constantly, takes you for granted or takes advantage of your friendship, can create a very unequal relationship which can be damaging to one’s self esteem and ability to grow.
On a recent cruise, we were seated with a couple of ladies who said they were friends for 35 years and they were celebrating their 35 years as friends by taking a cruise. One was widowed and the other left her husband behind since he was not into the cruise experience. For the 11 nights we had dinner together, I observed a true bond, one that was positive and uplifting. They supported each other, got along great and had so much fun together. For them, it was clear to see why their friendship lasted that long and why they appeared to be the happiest couple on board.
How often have you been in the department store and overheard one friend discouraging another from buying a dress or pair of shoes that looked entirely smashing as far as you were concerned? And how often have you heard one friend belittling another and passing it off as a joke? Would such a friend actually encourage you to fulfill your dreams, support you wholeheartedly and give you the best advice? I think not.
I always wondered what a sweet, talented girl like Whitney Houston, in her early days of fame, had in common with Bobby Brown but I immediately assumed that because they were together, they had to have a lot in common and so we found out years later that they did. Perhaps Whitney was not as sweet as we thought and was attracted to someone who shared her likes and dislikes to some extent. On the other hand, she could have been sweet and innocent and became someone else by association with the wrong crowd. We will never know for sure but one thing is certain, according to Colin Powell, “friends that don’t help you climb will want you to crawl”
It is very important that we screen our friends, and review and assess our relationships with friends from time to time. Yes, as social beings we all have the need to be liked and to “have” someone in our corner that we can call “friend”. However, we need to be very picky about who we choose to be our friends. I am in no way advocating snobbery but you must understand that you are important too and if your friend enjoys a criminal lifestyle, you probably will too eventually.