Good Friend Bad Friend
Decide which two of your friends are at the ends of your “morality spectrum”-that is, which friend of yours is the “most sinful” and which is “most saintly”. The “low” friend will be the one that constantly challenges you with ideas, behaviors and emotions that are, more often than not, below the standards that you feel that a “proper human being” should have.
The “high” friend will be the one that most often excites feelings in you of awe, admiration and, perhaps, some chagrin that you personally cannot always match this person’s personal sense of integrity, work ethic, honesty, compassion, kindness, simplicity, etc. After you have selected these two, consider for a few minutes the experiences you have had with these persons over the last year or longer. Focus on remembering YOUR behaviors around these persons.
Do I have “shifts” in morality when I encounter different persons?
How much do I lower my personal standards when I am with my “lower” friends? When I am with a “low” friend, how often do I find myself wondering or feeling “What’s gotten into me?” or “I don’t believe I just said/did that!”?
Do I have to consciously keep myself from “untoward” behaviors or speech around a high friend or does this happen automatically? How do I “shift” into “good me” so effortlessly? How would I feel if my high friend invited me to a party, and I found out that I was the “low” person at the party? Would I be inspired to grow or be relieved to be able to finally leave and get back to my “kind”?
How do I recognize low and high? Is something low because of how I actually uncomfortably feel when I do/say/think that low thing, or is it because of what I think I SHOULD feel to be a member of my family, community, peers, and other groups?
What is my appraisal of my morality: that I have inner standards based on personal philosophy and emotional reactions OR that I have assimilated outer standards by being “raised” in a certain way and never having consciously watched these values being “programmed” into my nervous system? How much of “me” was built by “me”?
If I were to suddenly be transported to the “Gates of Heaven” along with all my friends, how would I FEEL when the gatekeeper asked me, “Hey, who are these others? Do you think all these persons should be allowed inside with you?” Would that feeling be close to how I feel when I sum up the whole of my life/self?
For the most part, does my spectrum of friends pretty much encompass my personal limitations? Do I regularly do things that my lowest friend would consider “too low”? Do I regularly do things that inspire my “high” friends? How does my life reflect the “birds of a feather flock together” concept?
How do my friends represent who I am? If I were to suddenly “jump ahead” in my morality up to the standards of my highest friend, what percentage of my other friends would “drift away” or “be dropped by me”? If I were offered the opportunity to push a button and instantly make that shift, would I push the button?
What would be the payoff for me if I pretended that everyone was on my “good end” of my spectrum? Could I “pull that off”? Could I permanently shift into “good me”?
If I were to go alone to a new place, would I want my group of new friends to be much different than the present group? If not, why not? If so, can I begin a transitional process? Is there any truth to the idea that I might be “trapped” by my friends and cannot “evolve” any faster than the group as a whole evolves? Would it ever be the case that my friends would “hold me back” because of the impact of their desires, energies, and “ways”?
How strong am I? Can I make decisions that move me forward as fast as I want to move? Is there a fear of or resistance in me to growth? Do I surround myself with these friends to “keep me at a certain speed”? What is the spiritual function of my relationships?