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Surround Yourself with Emotionally Healthy People


Too often when clients describe their friends, lovers or mates, I shudder. Not outwardly, of course, but inwardly because I sense the relationship is not beneficial for my client long-term. Am I psychic? Of course not. I simply know from personal and professional experience what makes for healthy associations—and, moreover, what doesn’t.

My beliefs were reinforced reading Brad Stulberg’s article on how unconsciously picking up on people’s moods can make us feel better or worse. And it got me thinking about my own history. Most of my friends throughout life have been topnotch, not that they all came from highly functional families. The keepers worked hard on getting whole-self healthier, while I had to leave other friends behind as I got more together. 

I read Stulberg’s article after a week of listening to clients complain about relationships. So many of them sought friends or lovers who suffered similar horrors to theirs in childhood and were plagued by comparable demons. That’s fine as long as others have put their traumas behind them and have shaken off those demons. What works is having friends who are still works in progress, but are doing something about it and working through, rather than acting out, family of origin dysfunction. 

What doesn’t work is people saying they’ll change and making measly or no efforts to do so. It’s best to have high compassion but low tolerance for victimhood. If your lover or partner is abusive or has mental health or addiction problems, unless they’re willing to go to (and stay in) therapy and change their behavior pretty darned quickly, you’re bound to remain unhappy. Same for if you meet someone who tells you they’re ambivalent about commitment or when you feel the tug of codependence to help them solve all their problems or be a healthier person. The goal is to stop feeling so sorry for people who drag you under rather than lift you up. 

Emotionally healthy people don’t act like victims. They do something about what’s wrong in their lives. They don’t sit around and commiserate and wallow in self pity. They’re eager for advice, act on suggestions, and are willing to do what’s uncomfortable to become happier and healthier. They surround themselves with positive role models, not people who continually complain about making poor choices.

If you don’t know what emotional health looks like, read my blogs on the subject. You won’t grow and change surrounded by people who aren’t on that same path. I can’t stress strongly enough that choosing to be with mentally healthy people makes it vastly easier for you to both consciously and unconsciously become healthier yourself.