Are You Around The Wrong People?

pixabay / geralt
Pixabay / geralt

I made a big mistake once again. I trusted the wrong people. It’s so hard to know which people to trust.

People can be nice. So you trust them. People make mistakes and they apologize. So you trust them.

Some people have the best intentions. But those intentions pull you down into the quicksand. Into the desert. Into a coffin where you can’t breathe.

But deep down I’ve only found a few people in my life to trust. Over a period of decades.

Isn’t it interesting that carbon can either be a diamond, in its pure form, or a deadly poison when it’s combined with the life-giving element of oxygen.

What a thin line between sparkling beauty and death. Between the good people and the bad people.

Here’s what happens when you associate with the wrong people:


Something good might happen. Pretty please? If we just wait a little. If this or that happens. “It’s about to happen, don’t worry!”. But it never does.


Every moment you spend with the wrong person you could’ve been spending with someone you love. Or you could’ve spent staring at the ocean and waiting to die.

Even that’s a better choice. I love waiting to die when staring at the ocean. I hope I die staring at the ocean. It doesn’t matter to me if it happens tomorrow or in 80 years. Better than dying in a conference room.


This has happened to me almost 100% of the time. Someone I think I trust calls and says, “I have a great opportunity!” and then I lose money.


By the way, it’s not the other person’s fault. It’s your fault.

They said, “Get in now because we are about to close this big deal.” Then you get in and the deal never closes. How many times has this happened to me? Heck, it’s happening to me this weekend. Do I get greedy? The guy is 80-years-old. Would he really be lying? Answer: of course he is! But if I get greedy I might override what I already know.


People always tell you who they are right when they meet you. If your significant other says, “I’m afraid I’m going to hurt you.”

You might be right in between kisses. Nothing feels better than a kiss. Or even better, a first kiss. How can they hurt you. It’s a first kiss! The best feeling in the world.

How can she/he possibly ever hurt you? But if they say they will, then they will. It’s like the one time they will be honest with you.

Or if they are leaving someone else to be with you. That’s a pretty big sign of who they are, right? But you feel that attraction, that magnetism and you want to be close, to be in love, to trust that everyone else was a lie and now this is TRUTH. It’s not. It never will be.


Wrong people form tribes with other wrong people. And now you’re in the tribe. Welcome to the terror dome.


Nothing wrong with having confidence. But some people are just delusional.

How can you tell if someone has too much ego as opposed to just being a super human-being? There’s libraries of books on this.

I’ll just tell you one simple test: They take credit for things they never did. Sometimes they don’t even realize they never did those things.

Now you’re trapped in the web the spider has weaved. Good luck getting out alive.


You want to know just ONE thing. And iyou ask about it. But they can’t answer. They speak in riddles. Or in other questions. What are you going to do?

Sometimes you think you have to be super-nice or clever to get an answer. Do you know what I mean when I say that? Like they might get mad if you ask the wrong way.

I’ll tell you an answer: Run.


You always feel bad when you are around them. This might be your fault also. Why should someone be required to make you feel good.

But if you ALWAYS feel bad, no matter who they are, you should probably take a step back and ask, “What’s up?”



At some point I decided to stop pretending. I decided to stop caring what people think. If I can’t be myself this second, then I know I will start to drown again.

Being honest is like treading water. So you can see the sky in all of its expanse.

I used to do these 3am shoots. Interviewing people who were out at 3 in the morning on a Tuesday night. One thing they all had in common: they were very different from the usual 9-5 people. There was no pretending with them. They were shot up with a terrible honesty.

Whether they were down and out, or richer than God, they were totally themselves and you had to deal with it.

As I’ve expressed myself more and more in writing, in business, in the conference room, in deals, the people who couldn’t deal with it started to leave me, started to even trash me. Whatever.

I’ve lost friends and family. I’ve lost deals. I’ve lost opportunities. People maybe are jealous. Or people try to put me down, to think they have power over me. Or sometimes people just disappear.

Sometimes I care. Sometimes it hurts. But it’s none of my business, anyway, what other people think of me.

For every one thing I’ve lost, I’ve gained ten. I guarantee you that honesty beats living a life of worrying what people think. I stopped having stomach aches every night. I gained back a lot of time I had never known I had lost for so many years.

Have you noticed this also?

This might all sound like I’m bitter. Sure, I might be a little. I’m allowed to be. Everyone is sometimes.

Someone I know stole $90 million from a company that employed his friends, family, and a 1000 other people. The bank came in and seized the company and everyone was fired and the guy went on vacation, scot free. I lost money also.

I was upset for one day. I gave myself 24 hours to mourn the loss of a friend, and all the friends associated with him, and all the friends associated with those people.

Then I wrote down 10 things I learned from the experience. I wanted to know why I was so easily fooled. What I could have done about it. How I could have helped people.

Guess what. I didn’t write down 10 things. I wrote down 20 things I learned from the experience. Then what happened? Then I wrote down 200 things I learned from the experience.

I felt like I suddenly had a dragon tattoo that could grant me magic wishes, that’s how much I think I learned from this experience.

I felt like if I meet someone the dragoon tattoo would rise up off my arm, wrap itself around the other person, and if the person was no good the dragon tattoo would squeeze the other person to death and then go back to my arm. Or the dragon would kiss them. They would never realize. It’s just a tattoo.

Then I made an active effort to spend time with people I truly enjoyed and trusted. That was my personal cure.

The kind of people who make you light up and say, “yay! It’s so good to see you.”

Because I have many of those in my life also. And it’s always a pleasure to see them or talk to them without any expectations of what could happen.

Last week I went to a dinner of friends. I go to one dinner maybe every four months. Some people I knew. Some I didn’t. But I was so happy to see them. I said to myself, “this is good for me.”

There’s no way to avoid the bad people in life. Most people are no good really.

And I’m not being cynical. There’s no reason to think positively on delusional situations. Positive thinking only works when you put in the work to make everything else is going in a positive direction.

How do you go in a positive direction? This: Always be honest. Always try to help people without expectation back. Don’t be around the wrong people or situations. It’s that simple.

Can people change?

God, I hope so. Because I’ve not been always the best person. I’ve been all of the above. Who can cast the first stone?

The characters on this great big theater stage constantly change.

But at the end, make sure you can be with the people you can hold hands with and smile with as you bow for the audience.

As you bow in accomplishment and good feelings. As you bow and the curtain closes. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

P.S. My new book is finally out! It’s taken me a year to put together all the skills I think are needed to create abundance in this new economy. I hope you write me with feedback and questions.
Here’s what the initial reviews on this book have said:
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I’m really grateful for the response I’ve received so quickly. I feel we are quickly building a strong community of people who are deciding to “choose themselves”.
If you want to get it exclusively in hardcover, plus several other books by me, plus a newsletter which will be the equivalent of two additional chapters every month, claim your copy here.

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James Altucher is the author of the bestselling book Choose Yourself, editor at The Altucher Report and host of the popular podcast, The James Altucher Show, which takes you beyond business and entrepreneurship by exploring what it means to be human and achieve well-being in a world that is increasingly complicated.

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