"Life is full of surprises and so are people. Live a life that is filled with people who will build you up, and say goodbye to those who tear you down."

We all want to live happy lives and be surrounded by genuine people--people who care about us in our personal and professional lives. In a nutshell, we want to be in good company, which is completely natural. Being in good company gives meaning to our lives. We have the power to wisely choose who we welcome into our lives and who we let go of.

Yes, there are times when we need to let go of bad company. It is true that it is better to be alone than to be in bad company. However, as humans, we are not meant to live in isolation. Researchers have found that a lack of close companionship is as damaging to your health as smoking.

Here's a guide to know when people in your circle of life are bad company for you.

They don't value you. Invest time in people who genuinely want to be around you. Don't allow anyone who selfishly wants you to take time from your schedule only when it is convenient for them. When someone really cares about you, they will make time for you. There is no need for you to force someone to spend time with you. Know your self-worth and avoid those who neglect your value.

They envy you. When a friend feels envious of you, it is more likely because they want to have what you have or be like you are. While you can be generous and encouraging to your friend, it is not your responsibility to supply the solutions to every one of their needs. Envy can become a very destructive behavior that it can make you feel guilty for having what your friend doesn't have and for being who you are.

They want you to change. A true friend will accept you as you are. If someone expects you to be a different person, be very careful. It is wise to keep being who you are rather than to keep a relationship with that person. It is healthier and more favorable for you to fill a void in your life where a person used to be, than it is to fill a void where you used to be. Stay true to yourself. Always.

They lie to you. Love is not just about passion, romance, and candles. Love is also a behavior and a language among family members, friends, co-workers, and so on. If people lie to you, they are disrespecting you and the relationship you have with them. People who avoid telling you the truth and opt to tell you what they think you want to hear are doing so for their own interests and convenience.

They are negative. You do not have control over what negative people say to you and to others. However, you have control over what you permit them to say or not say to you. Their words and actions can easily invade your heart and mind, and this can be extremely toxic for you. Remember that you cannot change anyone nor keep making excuses for people's bad and negative behavior, nor should you even try.

Published on: Feb 20, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.