Do we ever know who we really are? What we really want? Or are we an accumulation of the ideas, values, ambitions and goals of the company we keep?
The 5th person syndrome, a concept I became recently aware of, which put simply, means -we become the company we keep. After all, if we lived in a house full of donut eating lay a bouts…wouldn’t we start eating donuts? Similarly, if we lived in a house full of green juice drinking athletes, wouldn’t we become more health conscious? Don’t we go to the gym so we can be in the positive vibration of focus and fitness? I remember reading somewhere that if you have you have overweight friends you are more likely to make bad food choices, eat larger portions and not surprisingly then, gain weight.
On a deeper level, can the company we keep impact upon our life decisions? Our values? The dreams we have? Our aspirations and ambitions?
When I was 14, I moved with my family to the Middle East. Since then I have lived in Spain, India and Thailand. Fourteen years later I find myself (geographically) back where I started. Rural, conservative England.
Traveling changes your perspective and your outlook. As Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” India was, for me, the place which transformed the way I look at life.
Most expats in India are not trying to replicate their western lifestyle in the sun. They are searching for something more. More meaning, more questions, more answers, more truth. It is through this seeking, that ideas are exchanged, questions are answered with more questions and evolution of the mind and spirit takes place.
I left India with a clarity, a clear sense of truth and a fresh outlook on the world, life on it and beyond. With certainty I felt I had rid myself of the shackles of the western “dream”. In the South Indian outback advertising is, currently, almost non existent. With this absence, you feel lighter, your mind is liberated from craving, comparison and dissatisfaction. You eat and drink local, you buy what you need, not what you “want”. “I can see everything for what it is” I naively proclaimed. Arriving back in England at Heathrow, the bombardment of signs, warnings, technology and over head automated announcements (even the people seemed automated) was overwhelming and bizarre.
Nine months on and this automated haze of signs, warnings and advertisements is my normal. I comply, I obey, I fear, I crave, I fret, I worry, I compare and complain. I want a house and a car and maybe a dog too…I want to be like everyone else. I want that handbag I saw in Vogue and I know the intricate details of Kim Kardashian’s life. I do not talk about anything beyond the physical and mundane. I do not question or wonder. I want. I am surrounded by people who conform, who believe in the “western dream” and put value on things rather than experience. I am the 5th person.
This realization came to me on a day trip to Bristol- surrounded by “alternative” people, vegan sausage rolls and free meditation workshops, a light went off and I suddenly remembered all that I had lost. Whilst we may think that we are separate and individual, really we are not. We are all interconnected. Everything in the Universe is interconnected and interdependent and we are no exception. We vibrate on the frequency of our surroundings. And on my trip to Bristol I realized that I was vibrating on a frequency which did not honor my believes and values. Yet I had adopted them as my own?! This was a disturbing realization, as I realized how influenced we are by our surroundings and the company that we keep.
Whilst, perhaps we don’t lose our essence, we can be mislead and the core of us retreats to a place where, without a jolt, it can sleep for a life time. It is important that we honor who we really are, so that we can find people and places who fit us and we fit them. It is in this exchange that we grow, develop and blossom into fulfilled individuals. Bristol was the jolt I needed to re-establish my spiritual practice and connect with people who have similar believes to me, people who inspire me and whom I can grow with.
Maybe the next time you find yourself in a group of 4 people…ask…am I the 5th person? And if so…am I alright with that?
Originally from the UK, Rebecca has spent time living in the Middle East, Spain, India and Thailand. Rebecca is passionate about healing health and yoga and believes in every persons unique potential.