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How Do Others Influence Us?


Photo Courtesy of Sayyeda Fatima Ahmed

“Others can influence us but ultimately, we are responsible for the choices we make”

Becoming a better version of ourselves is what most of us strive for each day. In the last article, (click here to read it) this objective was contrasted against the idea of always trying to “be who we are”. In both cases, the effect that others have on helping or hindering us is not always clearly understood. A popular saying which highlights this is, “Don’t allow others to keep you from being who you are”. While it is true,  there are times when we need advice and validation from others. There are a few simple concepts that might help in discerning when we should or shouldn’t lean on the remarks of others.

Humans are by nature social creatures. We enter life completely dependent on others but as we grow older and strive for independence, our confidence is boosted when we hear positive assurances from those whom we trust. Conversely, we can establish a negative idea about ourselves if we are persistently belittled or demeaned by those very same people. Our self-image, especially as young children, is greatly influenced by what we perceive from those around us.

Setting the stage for positive self-image at a young age is vital in our ability to grow as humans throughout our entire lifetime. Understanding the difference between making a bad choice is much different from believing that we made that choice because we are worthless or stupid.

As adults, hearing constructive words from others provides validation that we are doing the right thing. If we were to be constantly barraged with negative comments from everyone around us, there is a good chance we would start to believe them no matter how wrong they were.

However, what really validates or allows those words to influence us? It is when we ultimately believe them to be true. When working towards a goal and someone tells you, “Nice job”, it contributes to our confidence but it is only when we believe those words about ourselves that brings it to fruition. No amount of compliments or praise will develop your own value if you do not accept them to be true.

Equally, if someone else criticizes your efforts but you know in your heart that you are doing a good job, their words will fall silent on your ears. If what they say has smatterings of truth, you can choose to take the constructive parts and use it towards your development. Lastly, there is always the option to accept those negative things, believe them and become lost or stymied in your own negative thoughts about who you are. What all three of these scenarios have in common is that WE ultimately must deem them true.

There are times when we are stuck in situations of negativity which may be virtually impossible to escape. Although it is always preferable to be surrounded by supporting and nurturing people, we still must accept that negativity before it adversely impacts our self-confidence.

No matter what others say about us, believing it for ourselves is how it will have any influence or impact on us at all. Thank you very much and I look forward to your comments.

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