Posts Tagged ‘good vibes’

Encouraging Positive Talk and Confidence in Your Friend Group

Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

“Show me your friends, and I’ll tell you who you are.” There’s been a fair amount of research on how people are affected by their environments, and that largely means how they’re affected by the people with whom they interact. Have you ever noticed a friend of yours start using a phrase you use? Have you picked up certain habits from your friends? You’ll probably be hyper-aware of it after reading this! Some even argue that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Much of what I’ve read on this subject warns about the influence of toxic people and emotional vampires, like this cautionary article from A lot of these self-help articles advise readers to rid themselves of friends and acquaintances who just aren’t feeding their lives in a positive way. I’m not disputing that advice. Cutting ties with draining people is important for your overall wellbeing. But if you’re influenced by the people around you, there’s also a lot you can do in turn to be a positive influence on them—and ultimately that’s beneficial for everyone.

Negativity doesn’t just come in the form of explicit rudeness or friends who deliberately put you down. Some of our most supportive, funny, valuable friends can unintentionally and indirectly propagate feelings of self-criticism and negativity by the way they talk to and about themselves. Author Mark Manson writes a lot about how we measure worth. Take this article for instance (it’s a short read): His logic is that the way we judge others is also how we judge ourselves. In his words, the yardstick by which we measure our own worth is also the yardstick by which we measure the worth of others. Often we aren’t conscious of how exactly we measure worth, but Manson points out that we can choose to be conscious, and from there we can choose our yardsticks. So if you obsess over your grades, chances are you also judge your friends by how high their GPAs are. If you have a friend who is constantly worrying about her appearance, you can deduce that her primary measuring stick is attractiveness. Most likely without meaning to, that friend then judges other people by their attractiveness. By “judging,” I mean ascribing worth or value.

These behaviors can wear on us. If someone close to you obsesses over their physique and level of fitness, it’s hard not to wonder how they view and judge your body too. I urge you to point our negative behaviors that you see in your friends and encourage them to be kinder to themselves. For example, I used to have a hard time taking compliments; I always felt like accepting them meant I was cocky. In response, I would make self-deprecating comments, finding faults in myself to counteract anything positive. Eventually, when I would make these comments one of my friends started scolding me, “Don’t be self-deprecating.” And it wasn’t a playful admonishment either. There was a bit of annoyance and a real sense of chastisement in her tone. I didn’t take offense. On the contrary, her criticism of my own self-criticism brought me to see my comments about myself in a more accurate light: not as politeness, but as an unhealthy habit. I learned to catch myself in those thought patterns, and I learned to accept compliments. And you know what? Compliments feel good! That’s how they’re supposed to feel!

So when you see your friend poking their stomach and saying they feel fat, ask them, “What’s something you like about your body?” When your friend does poorly on a test and says they are stupid, tell them, “You know, you’re really good at ______. Be an example; be gentle with yourself and gentle with your friends. Compliment them, and accept their compliments graciously too. If you admire something, say so. When you’re proud of them, show it. It’s often easier to hold on to the negatives, but you have the power to highlight the positives. If what Business Insider says is true—that you’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with—then your positivity has the power to make them more positive. And in the end, that positive energy will feed you too.

By Sofia Lerner

Sofia Lerner is a Campus Clipper publishing intern who is studying English as a senior at NYU. Passionate about literature, dance, and wellness, Sofia aspires to help the arts thrive and help others pursue healthy lifestyles. For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services. 

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