Show Me Who Your Friends Are and I'll Tell You Who You Are

Do you admire the people you spend the most time with? Keep in mind that the attitude of your environment influences your way of being. Let's see how.
Show Me Who Your Friends Are and I'll Tell You Who You Are
Sharon Laura Capeluto

Written and verified by the psychologist Sharon Laura Capeluto.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Think about the five closest people to you with whom you spend most of your time. How do they live? How do they think? Are they brave when making decisions? Do they pursue their dreams? Do they understand your emotions? Are the links between you healthy? Are they able to allow themselves to make mistakes and learn from them?

Now, ask yourself if you admire them.

Depending on your answer, this information could be good or bad news for you. That’s because, according to motivational speaker Jim Rohn, each person is the average of the five closest people in their life. In other words, they influence you to the point that you end up resembling them, both in your way of behaving and acting in life and in your values and thoughts.

The influence of the people around you

happy friends
People often resemble those around them.

At first glance, this idea might sound rather far-fetched. Maybe you’re thinking “I’m not the least bit like my brother” or “My partner and I are really different”. However, we’re not saying that you’re an exact copy of them. Of course not. That said, it’s likely that if you take a closer look at their personality traits, healthy or unhealthy habits, ways of expressing themselves or even addressing others, you’ll end up finding a wide range of similarities between you that you may not have noticed before.

Jim Rohn claimed that, as human beings, we tend to resemble the people around us. He stated that if you write down a list of your tastes, interests, hobbies, customs, knowledge, and skills, you’ll notice that you’re a reflection of the people with whom you spend the most time.

In turn, you also have an impact on those around you. Indeed, there’s something of you in all of the people around you, whether it be your temperament, musical preferences, or your way of dealing with problems.

Psychologist David McClelland, known for his theory of the need for motivation, discovered, thanks to his extensive research, that 95 percent of our successes and failures are related to those closest to us. For example, you’re more likely to be physically active if your family members exercise frequently, or to drink alcohol if your circle of friends does. It certainly sounds logical.

Membership groups

This phenomenon repeats itself. People blend in when starting a relationship or groups of young people tend to dress in a very similar style of clothing. In fact, groups of belonging are fundamental for the formation of personal identity. We all need to feel that we belong to a community or group. It makes us feel comfortable and accepted.

Therefore, we tend to identify with and feel cared for by the groups (formal or informal) to which we belong based on feelings of solidarity with those who are similar. At the same time, we frequently consider that we must be a certain way to belong to a group. So, we adopt aspects or qualities of the members of that group with the ultimate goal of integrating ourselves.

What the rest do, think, reject, or celebrate consciously or unconsciously influences our lives. By this point, you can probably now see how the “Show me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are” saying makes sense. It means that others know who you are by who you mix with. Furthermore, your level of well-being in general terms is positively or negatively affected by your friends, family, and study or work colleagues.

People are like sponges. We absorb the energy that surrounds us. If our environment is happy most of the time, enjoying and focusing on the pleasant things in life, it’ll be easier for us to feel happy. The same would happen in reverse: surrounded by grumpy and miserable people, it’d be difficult for us to keep smiling.

Who do you mix with?

friends talking
Regardless of whether the contact is physical or virtual, the people who have the most influence over us will be those with whom we spend the most significant time.

Taking the foregoing into account, it’d be advisable for you to be more careful when choosing the people with whom you want to associate. This doesn’t mean you should completely distance yourself from everyone you don’t idolize or that you should become a hermit. However, you should be aware of the relationships you build and sustain over time. Remember that you feed on them.

Ask yourself if they support or limit you. Do you feel free when you’re in their company or do you tend to repress your emotions and thoughts?. Are they proud or ashamed of you?

Analyze your inner circle and evaluate if the people you have around you make it easier for you to meet your goals. You can always choose to surround yourself with people who inspire you to be a better person. You just need to ask yourself who you want to keep and who to discard. What bonds do you want to nurture and cultivate? What kind of people would you like to bond with from now on?

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Córdoba, M. (2017). Identidad personal.
  • McClelland, D.C. (1984). Motivos, personalidad y sociedad: artículos seleccionados. Nueva York: Praeger.
  • Sarmiento Mosquera, J. E. (2021). Desarrollo Social en la Adultez. Desarrollo del Escolar, Adolescente y Adulto.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.