We are all, to some degree, informed about ourselves by who and what we see when we look around us. If we live in a physical environment that is chaotic and cluttered, it may have the effect of actually causing or reinforcing feelings we have of being cluttered and chaotic inside ourselves. When it is the physical environment that we are focused on, it is commonly referred to as the milieu.
In a similar way, the people we see when we look around ourselves, particularly those we have personal close relationships and/or spend a lot of time around have a great deal of impact on the way we perceive ourselves.
Most people tend to gravitate toward others with whom they feel some communality or kinship. At its most basic level, smokers are often more comfortable in the company of other smokers. Likewise with those who drink and even more dramatically with those who drink to excess.
It is not, for most people, that we literally become duplicates of those around us. It is, more realistically, a matter of influence and of feedback about ourselves. Everything we see when we look around, each place, object or person, is in some respects a mirror that we see something of ourselves in.
Consequently, where we are, what we see when we look around us and who we spend time with all contribute to building or supporting our own identities.
This issue seems high in the consciousness of parents of young teenagers who tend to become increasingly sensitive to who their teens are spending time with as those teens get more fully into their adolescence. Interestingly, although parental interest and concern commonly spikes at that point, it has been an issue for the children since they were quite little and remains an issue for the parents in their own lives as well.
There is no clear starting or stopping point for when the influence of others becomes more or less important to our vision and idea of ourselves, nor is there any standard or fixed degree of consequence. But, it is simply never NOT a factor in how we perceive ourselves.
Knowing this may influence a person’s choices in where to be and with whom.
Feeling good and healthy may have more than a little bit to do with being close to others who share the ideas and values you would like to see and feel in yourself.