There is a very easy way to distinguish a friend from a foe. Namely, does that person lift you up and enlighten your life, or are they constantly bringing more worries and anxiety into your routine? Do they help or do they hurt?
Think about this for a moment, in every interaction you ever have, you either leave better or worse off than you were before you entered. It is impossible to stay stagnant through life. Even if you've resorted to a place of perpetual purgatory, there will inevitably be some movement along the spectrum when you communicate.
It's not a hard thing to grasp, what's difficult (read: challenging and exciting) is being conscious of your state of being before and after being with someone. Are you inspired to make your life better or do you want to fill a void with fast food, sex, drugs or another empty vice?
There is a great adage that goes, "The brighter you shine, the larger shadow you will cast." The universe is a constant yin and yang, meaning that the brighter you shine, the more dark that you will inevitably attract. It's a bit counter-intuitive, as you would think that when you shine, you would attract other bright and like minded individuals.
I see this as the universe's way of making sure you're ready to shine at a certain level. Can you handle the darkness that comes with light, and can you shine your light onto the darkness when it stares you in the face, and challenges your very core?
I'm guessing some of you have felt this before. You just accomplish something meaningful, whether it is a promotion or a successful performance. Darkness often times comes in masks, so we might be introduced to a new love that seems perfect, or given an opportunity that seems golden, but after the initial honeymoon lens wears off, we see that effect for what it really is-darkness attempting to squash your light.
Protect what is yours. Know your light and your greatness, and do not be ashamed of it. Know that no one can protect you except yourself. We get into trouble when we rely on others for protection, and can become attached and dependent upon others for our self worth and esteem.
Marley said it the best, "None but ourselves can free our minds." I can't do it for you, your significant other certainly cannot, your parents have no chance, but you, you have the ability to live surrounded by love and devoid of fear, but you must commit to wanting that first and foremost.
As a good first step if this is resonating with you, try not talking about other people. Gossip is one of the most devastating tools we've devised to socially joust with one another, constantly trying to position ourselves in a better and higher place, unconcerned with who we step on along the way, as long as it results in the betterment of our social and/or financial situation.
I appeal to the sensible side of you, the side that knows Thumper from Bambi was correct when he said, "If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all." If you can't help yourself, and you must gossip, speak highly of another person, focus on their strengths, and see instant karma flow your way.
Intelligence is the way of the world; knowledge is more accessible than any time in history, so in case you need another guiding light besides Bob Marley and Thumper, I offer you insight from Albert Einstein. He believed that "mediocre minds talk about people, average minds talk about events, great minds talks about ideas."
I don't believe that anyone would choose to be mediocre, nor do I believe that anyone need be in this category. But, the choice is yours.
Today, focus your efforts on improving the lives of others; even if it be lending a simple smile to a stranger where otherwise there would be none. Make the world a bit brighter today, and a bit more every day after. Your life will follow suit.
And if not, at least you're smiling more.