We are communal creatures. This is the reality of the nature of God Himself, and therefore the very nature of His image (humanity). Humans are inextricably connected. Yet, we can underestimate just how connected we are.
Think about all the little decisions and actions we do every single day that don’t just affect our own lives, but the lives of those around us and the world as a whole in some way. I mean, I didn’t eat the apple, but I was in the person that ate the apple. I also didn’t defeat death, but I am in the one who defeated death (1 Cor. 15:22).
That’s how connected we all are.
People affect our lives
With that said, we tend to underestimate the effect we have on each others’ lives – both positive and negative.
The relationships we choose to engage in can either enrich our lives or hinder our personal and relational development. Good company can positively contribute to our well-being, while bad company can affect us in ways that make us unhealthier people for our most important relationships.
Over time, we gradually adopt the views, attitudes, and behaviors of those we spend the most time with. This is because our brains are wired to mimic and imitate the people around us, whether we realize it or not. It’s a natural part of our socialization process that helps us fit in and build a strong bond with the people around us.
The most important thing is to admit that you’re not immune to it. Don’t be hard-nosed about it, or you’ll be the most vulnerable.
How are others influencing you?
When a person is bad company, this should be a red flag for you.
When I say “bad company,” I don’t mean “bad person.” Someone can be a fine person, but bad company. Bad company is someone that is having a negative influence on our lives in some way.
Simply, they have some kind of behavior or trait that doesn’t influence you in a positive way. They may cause you stress, anxiety, and emotional distress. They also may lead you to engage in behaviors that you might not otherwise engage in.
Or maybe being around them causes you to miss out on opportunities for personal growth and development, as well as hinders your ability to form positive and meaningful relationships with others.
Identifying bad company is not always as straightforward as it may seem. Sometimes, good people can be bad company in certain situations. This is why it’s important to be discerning rather than judgmental in our relationships.
Taking control of your relationships
Good people can be bad company if we let them into a space in our lives that doesn’t help us grow in the areas we need to. If you can recognize when a person is not a good fit for a space in your life, you can take action to protect yourself.
Exercising control over the relationships we allow in our lives is particularly important when it comes to our primary relationships. We should never be afraid to adjust a peripheral relationship for the sake of a primary one.
For example, let’s say someone in your church you’re friends with constantly undermines or disrespects another person you’re close friends with. This causes you to see your friend in a different (and worse) light.
Or let’s say you every time you’re done hanging out with your male chauvinist friend, you get into a fight with your wife.
Or maybe you struggle with a particular sin you feel convicted about. Every time you hang out with a certain person (who does not feel the same way about that sin), you end up doing that thing.
In all of these cases, it’s time to re-evaluate.
Be with people that help you grow
This doesn’t mean that we should only surround ourselves with people who agree with us or never challenge us. In fact, healthy relationships require some level of conflict and disagreement.
But we should always be making deliberate decisions to be with people who help us grow. These are people who support us, encourage us, and challenge us to be our best selves. They are people who share our values, goals, and vision for our lives.
We must be willing to make difficult decisions and have difficult conversations when necessary, but always with the goal of creating stronger, healthier relationships that bring out the best in us and those around us.
If you can see that someone is bad company for you, consider either ending the relationship or putting it into its proper place in your life. The more you like or feel attached to a person, the harder this decision can be. But you (and the rest of your relationships) will be healthier for it.