In today’s fast paced culture slowing “˜yourself’ down is an art in itself. But if you do not develop this skill, then how is it possible for you to fully recognise and acknowledge what is influencing and shaping your decisions, choices and ultimately your life?
It is crucial that you are able to separate then consider how internal and external forces shape you. Once you have identified the underpinning influences, you can then plan where you want to be, how you want to live and consider what you have to do to make it happen.
I don’t have to tell you what a massive influence the media has on us all. The purpose of all forms of media is to influence.
That said the purpose of the type of influence is determined by the source and you must look behind the product or message to fully consider what the intention is. There is no doubt that the impact can manifest itself in emotional, mental and physical health problems.
However, the skill in counterbalancing these affects is developing and trusting your intuitive, while balancing the information against your emotional and logical abilities. The worldwide media industry spends countless millions with the prime intention of influencing the masses. This “˜faceless machine’ implants suggestions, sets trends, conditions the individual, and the masses, into believing what “˜they’ want us to believe and buy into it.
This is not a new phenomenon and the principles have been utilised since time has gone by. There are countless recounts in history. Upon reflection and with a more balanced perspective, we are now able to recognise the techniques that have been used by dictators and totalitarians alike that have resulted in horrendous acts of evil.
That is not to say that the media does not have the potential for educating us and bringing us together in times of great need. However, the power is in recognising the intention behind what we are presented with and balancing it with facts and evidence. Be under no illusion the media has the ability to control us.
Consistent systematic overload of what this faceless influence has on our lives can result in horrendous acts of atrocities as well as great collective support in times of crisis and catastrophes. Once recognised that you hold the power in determining the level and potential impact of such infiltration’s, you can regain the level of influence the media has on you.
Firstly, it is important that you recognise how you determine a “˜peer’. We generally recognise a peer as someone that is your equal in some way; age, class, social group, education or likeminded.
Generally, we see peer pressure as being linked to adolescents, however, being influenced by our peers is experienced throughout our whole lifetime.
It is important to understand the different types of peer pressure that we are presented with; explicit and implicit peer pressure. It is the combination of both elements that determine the individual outcome.
Ultimately most of us want to fit in and belong and it is the outcomes of internal struggles that will determine the outcome. Really we’re talking about influence to behave differently, that’s exerted by peers. This process begins when we begin to value the attention we receive from others when we begin to interact with them; positive and negative. To be accepted, we have to choose whether to conform or not.
Age, stage, personality, capacity and experience will shape your choices. It is fundamental that you fully understand the influence of those who are in your life and the value and cost that their power in constructing and shaping your values and principles.
Simply put, depending on where you are in your life stage and the experiences you have gathered will enable you to choose what is right for you. Being susceptible to those you admire or who are particularly persuasive will not determine what you want for yourself it will only provide you with a tool that you can implement when making your own decisions. This process is constantly shifting and there is no doubt you will continue to learn new lessons throughout your whole lifespan.
The above “˜Peer’ section principles apply in relation to acquaintances. However, determining the differences between peers, acquaintances and friends is crucial.
In certain stages of your life, identifying acquaintances, peers and friends can be difficult. In the interests of this post I will focus on the differences between acquaintances and peers in the later stages of lifespan; young adulthood and adulthood. The power is in determining the difference.
Both acquaintances and peers are generally categorised as people who we considered to have less intimate or deep relationships compared to a friendship. That said, this relationship is a platform for friendships in the future. The connecting factor, being the commonality that binds you, can develop and grow into a more substantial valued relationship. The development of trust must be achieved for the relationship to grown. Nevertheless, they still have the ability to influence your life. However the responsibility is yours when determining how they influence you and how you will utilise your interactions with them when constructing your identity and achieving your goals.
Each generation would argue the positive and negatives of their time. I would argue that generally life has become far more complex with ever increasing pressures and demands on our time, we have after all become a knowledge society of workers, rather than manual workers.
That said, there are constants that impact on our life; family, friends, peers, acquaintances, finance, employment, relationships, ecological factors (this is not intended to be an exhaustive list). All the unique aspects that make up your life will impact and influence your life experience.
A simple exercise to identify the positive and negative factors and therefore subsequent negative influences in your life, would be to write a two column list; headed “˜Positive’ and “˜Negative”. Then list the people and factors underneath each heading. This is a very simplistic way of initially determining what you need to nurture and what you need to change. Only you know what is right for you and only you can change this. When you have completed your list add an additional column “˜The Cost/Gain’ that it or they bring by being part of your life. The outcomes will be clear, the choice will be yours.
What you have to do must be considered. You must be truly honest with yourself, which is not easy. The outcomes must be realistic and planned but if you want to change something in your life the responsibility is yours. The people, places or things you put on the negative part of your list may make you feel emotionally drained, leave your self-esteem in shreds, and create an overall feeling of sadness and low self-worth. The positive will speak for themselves. This is only the beginning of the exercise and must be monitored and regulated on a lifelong basis. What do you get, but also what do you give, does it make you happy, does it make you sad, is it sustainable, is it worth it?
Ultimately, take responsibility if you surround yourself with negative influences recognise and own the outcome. If you identify positive factors that make you happy take ownership of what you have to do to maintain the experience.
The environment in which we live can have a powerful negative influence on our lives, as well as positive. For fear of repeating myself again, even in uncontrollable situations, if you look hard enough you can find elements which you can control. It is crucial that you are aware of the factors within your environment that provoke specific reactions in you. Be aware of them and counteract them with positive factors. How can you make negative environments more manageable? background music? tidy up? aromatherapy? Simple steps can make a difference. They won’t change where you are, but they make it more manageable.
As much as possible, surround yourself with items that produce positive associations. Be realistic, small steps that can be built upon. Every living thing has an impact on its environment. Therefore your impact on the environment you inhabit is inevitable. There will be areas that you are unable to change but that does not mean you can’t influence or encourage change for not only you benefit but for those around you. So ask what you can do, consider if its achievable (don’t set yourself up for unachievable goals) and where you can achieve it. Rather than feeling like a failure, look at other areas of your life and the environment that you inhibit that you could make changes. Remember a change in your attitude could be the first step to make greater changes.
We all have areas in our lives that can have a negative influence on us. To begin to change these negative influences, we first have to recognise and understand them. The good news is that you have the ability to make changes in your life, but you must be honest with yourself, truly honest.
You have to recognise, acknowledge, profile and plan what you want for yourself, but ultimately you have to take responsibility to counterbalance the negative influences that you are presented with. What can you do? How are you going to do it? How you are going to maintain it?
Be realistic and be happy.
About the Author: Steven AITCHISON is one of Your Monthly Mentors, UK’s #1 Personal Development blogger. With a Facebook following of over 3.7 million and growing, Steven’s mission is to help millions of people around the world better themselves in any way that they can. Steven’s blog is entitled “Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life.” He currently resides in South Lanarkshire, Scotland and hosts live shows on Facebook every weekday at 2pm BST. Read More…
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