Help! My Friend Is A Bad Influence.

by Asatar Bair on April 25, 2012

Photo courtesy of joseeivissa

Help! My friend is a bad influence on me. Every time I’m with him, he just brings me down with a ton of negativity, self-doubt, and low-self esteem, along with putting other people down. I love my friend, but I don’t want to be like this! –GH

I sympathize with you, GH. Being our best is hard enough without other people dragging us down into habits and patterns we’re trying to change.

I suppose the immediate answer you probably get is to distance yourself from your friend. And maybe that needs to happen; sometimes one needs space. Sometimes one needs to say ‘no,’ creating boundaries that will help you be who you’d like to be. But it makes me a bit sad to think that is the only option. While it may be necessary in the short term, I aspire to more in the long term.

Sometimes it can be tempting to think that if we could just be alone, or only with others who are good, everything would be fine. As Einstein said, “How I wish that somewhere there existed an island for those who were wise and of good will.”

It sounds like a nice place to go for a visit. But I wouldn’t want to live there.

I want to be strong enough to help you when you struggle to be wise, when you have lapses in your good will. I want to be there when you can’t uphold the vision of your heart’s perfection.

We all need a way to recharge. Ideally, we need something that is powerful enough to fill us with good will, respect, admiration, and positivity toward others. We need something that reminds us that we have within us all the power, radiance, and glory that exists. We need to know that each of us has a heart like the sun shining in space. The sun never worries about a shadow passing across it. To the sun, there are no shadows.

The thing that I’ve found which has most helped me to remember who I’d like to be and give me the energy to do it is Heart Rhythm Meditation.

It is also true that a reason that your friend brings you down so much is that you see something in him that is greater. You have a vision of how he could be, and every time he fails to live up to it is a big disappointment. When you hold a high vision of others, they will disappoint you a thousand times each day.

It takes courage and love to hold on to your high regard for others. (In fact, this is one of the Exercises for Life.) If you did not hold that vision, you could not be disappointed. Yet it is an act of love to see the greatness and beauty in others. Even if you know that sometimes you’ll be disappointed.

Look at it from the perspective of the One Being, who sees our potential fully and clearly, who is able to hold that vision even when we seem to be far, far away from it. Even when we have forgotten ourselves in the intoxication of life.

Let yourself become the island of wisdom and goodwill. Let those you love come to shelter on your shores and enjoy the beauty of your heart’s love and respect. May the tears of your disappointment water the tree of your admiration for others; may love and forgiveness flow from your heart like a cool, clear spring.

While you have no direct control over anyone except yourself, you can have a far greater influence over others than you may realize by changing the energy within your heart.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share below.

Yours in the One Heart,


P.S. Thank you to all who entered to be part of our drawing for one of three spots our upcoming online course, 101: Introduction to Heart Rhythm Meditation. Please comment below if you’d like to enter; we’ll have the drawing on May 9th, one week before the course begins.

P.P.S. Our two-year program is accepting applications until July 1st for the Class of 2014, beginning in September.


Kate Lampe April 25, 2012 at 1:55 pm

We need to know that each of us has a heart like the sun shining in space. that phrase makes me smile wide and deep Asatar. I rest in the truth and give thanks to you for speaking it.
I love going to the beach to rejuvenate and that use to be one of the best ways I had to accomplish the necessary job of restoration. As a therapist I have felt burned out even to the point of wanting to quit my job. Now I rely on my heart rhythm meditation practice to restore myself. There are so many surprises in store from this practice. Happiness and Love being on the list as well as the capacity to care deeply about those in need. even wanting their restoration with all of my heart knowing the supply is infinite. even while discernment for how I use my energy is still very important. Much Love Kate Karima

Asatar Bair April 25, 2012 at 2:24 pm

I’m so happy to heart that, Kate!
Thank you for writing.

Jenny Coffman April 25, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Your post resonated with me! What truly matter in our lives is to live our true self through unconditional love. Which can be a challenge in my daily life. I consider myself a student of life that vacillates between spiritual loving ways of unconditional love and human ego driven attachments. What can I do to cultivate a practice of pure unconditional love?

Asatar Bair April 25, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Hi Jenny,
Aiming for unconditional love is really swinging for the fences; I appreciate your idealism. Here’s some poetry that speaks to this question:

Is love pleasure, is love merriment?
No, love is longing constantly;
love is persevering unweariedly;
love is hoping patiently;
love is willing surrender;
love is regarding constantly the pleasure and displeasure of the beloved,
for love is resignation to the will of the possessor of one’s heart;
it is love that teaches one: Thou, not I.
–Inayat Khan

The practice I’d recommend is to breathe in and out through your heart, seeking always to perfect your breath, making it ever more deep, smooth, rhythmic, and silent. Feel that your heart takes in all that is given to you as you inhale, and give all that you can give on the exhale.
May your loving heart unfold more each day.
Thank you for your comment!

Clare Mengler April 25, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Dear Asatar
thankyou for your words which ask us to always reach back and help.
It was timely and challenging for me because I face a similar problem with my daughter’s friend. This challenges me to allow my family to be that island for her friend rather than to actively block her friend. It points out to me that I hold myself, my daughter, my family above the friend. It suggests the potential for growth and evolution in the friend instead of the thoughtless assumption that the friend is a static, problematic entity.

Your words evoke an awareness of forgiveness rather than avoidance.

Asatar Bair April 26, 2012 at 6:57 am

Clare, you have gained so much through your thoughtful self-reflection. Thank you for sharing your story with me.

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