Who Is Influencing You And Does It Take You Away From Who You Are?

Today I’ve thought about who in my life influences me in the decisions I make. Are there times I make a decision because I know someone else will approve of me instead of doing what I want to do deep down? I think it’s an interesting thing to think about as life is about the people around us. Often, our relationships in life determine the quality of our life for better or worse.

Parental Influence

Probably the biggest influence in my life (because I lived in my parents house for 18 years, and then another couple years during the early years of my marriage) is my parents. They raised me and introduced me to various things in life like the LDS church and basketball.

As babies, we don’t really have much choice but to live with the parental influence we have. If we’re lucky, we have good parents who treat us with care and respect. Either way, the things our parents teach us become ingrained in our brains – at least for me they have been.

For instance, my dad taught me at a young age to place value on hard work and effort – earning and saving income as a way to bend life to your will. I didn’t do a very good job at following this example as a young man, but fortunately, later in life it now sticks with me and is one of my core guiding principles.

My mom taught me to love and care for people without expectation of anything in return. To this day, I value highly the attribute of loving and caring for others unconditionally. It takes a special kind of person to do this and my mom is a prime example of this to me and as such, I look for this quality in those people I choose to have in my life.

It’s interesting to note, income¬†earning power/work ethic and kindness and compassion are the two king attributes I look for in people in life – I am very biased toward people who amplify these two qualities and anyone who does not amplify these, I feel a sort of mental block with them.

Sibling Influence

I grew up in a household with 7 kids. As a youngster, it was a largely chaotic environment with sibling rivalry dictating the course of action more often than not. It was not uncommon for there to be yelling and swearing in the house as a sort of power struggle ensued between various siblings and my parents.

This isn’t really a bad thing to me. In fact, it was a valuable lesson to me and my siblings may not realize how much they taught me through their power struggles with each other. And it is this – people want things – they want power and control – and not necessarily for evil purposes. And when someone disrupts them in that quest, things can be difficult.

This influence carries over with me to my day job at work where I am now a manager of 6 people. I also look at the other teams in the company and I can see where there are people who are trying to get or accomplish things and if you look carefully, you can see the power struggle in the corporation. This doesn’t intimidate me at all – I just recognize it for what it is and that it largely can’t be avoided (except in rare cases of extreme togetherness and leadership).

My oldest brother Paul was a very big influence on me growing up. He loved playing role playing computer games, dungeons and dragons and in general was interested in Sci-Fi and Fantasy literature and movies. To this day, those are some of my favorite things to indulge in.

Significant Other Influence

I’ve been married 13 1/2 years now and certainly that journey has had ups and down (though more ups overall). I think about the events of the last 9 months and how Heidi’s influence on me changed – became less – because I was focused on other things in my life besides my family.

Regardless of the bumpy road over the last 9 months, caused largely by me, Heidi has had a lot of influence on me. For one, she amplifies greatly the quality of my mother – to love unconditionally other people and care for them. She has certainly done this for me, especially earlier in the year when I had some hellish emotions wracking my brain. Today, I’m much stronger and have her to thank. Who knows what would have become of me without her listening ear?

Heidi also influences me to be a better person in the sense that she is an extremely good listener. She will listen to other people talk about some of the most nonsensical things and actually recall what they are saying. It is because of this, that I have taken it upon me in recent years to hone my listening skill when talking to other people. I’m not at her level yet, but I am getting better.

Any person you are spending a great deal of time with is going to influence you. When it comes to a significant other, if they amplify one or two core qualities of your parents, chances are, they are going to have a high level of influence with you. Otherwise, there will likely be some friction instead of influence.

Influence By Friends

I remember growing up in Michigan and I had a friend who liked to do some crazy things. What was interesting is that the more time I spent with him, the more I started to lean to doing those things as well. This included stealing, lighting things on fire, swearing, and in general, living a very reckless life.

Knowing what I do today, I would have taken a step back as a young man and avoided as much contact as I had with this person. The people we spend time with are like mirrors. We look at them and we tend to think that is what we should be like. It’s a pretty straightforward process.

Think about the friends in your life. What are they like? Do they value honesty and integrity? Or are they a bit loose with their morals? Chances are, whatever you find yourself being around is what you will look for and expect in your life – until you change those friends you are around. Find a different mirror to look at if you are unsatisfied here.

On the flip-side, I had some friends growing up where they were very industrious and studious. I think some of those qualities also rubbed off on me and when I look at who I am today, I think the industrious and studious side is winning out (though not all the time).

Influence By People Looked Up To

When I look at the decisions people make, I can almost always point to there being an influence in that decision from someone that person looks up to. Rarely does someone make a decision from within without any influence from another person (parent, spouse, good friend, grandparent, etc…).

If someone does a 180 on you and you wonder what is going on, chances are, they have talked with someone who has a high level of influence on them about you and they are simply removing you from their life. Don’t take it personally. It’s just the nature of things – people are often influenced by others.

I look up to Larry Bird, the legendary basketball player from the Boston Celtics. If Larry Bird were to say something to me, chances are, my brain would find a place to make the thought permanent and I would likely act on it for decades to come. I’m sure the same is for you for people you look up to.

Does It Take Away?

After realizing all of this influence from other people, the big question to ask is, “Does the influence of people in my life take away from who I am at my core?” If it does, chances are fear is guiding your decision – the fear of not upsetting some perceived balance with the people in your life. On the other hand, if the people in your life enhance your life and bring greater happiness and fulfillment, chances are, that is a very positive relationship regardless of what other people might think.

Take a retrospective today – look at your dealings with people in your life over the last few years. Where have you been enhanced and where have you been downgraded? This is a clue if that influence is helping or hindering you in your life. Stay happy my friends – and simply recognize the influence people have in your life (unless you are a hermit).

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