Outside Influences

Do you allow other people to unduly influence your decisions, actions or beliefs? If so, and if this has ever created discomfort for you, you might find this article useful.

Our response to the influence of other people or groups can lead to good outcomes or bad outcomes. On the one hand, it is generally thought that a main feature in the personality of a successful person is that he or she is open to new ideas and to new ways of solving problems. As such, openness to outside influence is clearly a plus.

On the other hand, being open to too many kinds of opinions can result in confusion and the inability to make a decision. Some people refer to this as “analysis paralysis.” This shows up in my counseling practice regularly. For example a person in a bad relationship who entertains opinions from many people, can get mixed up and unable to decide what to do, even while he feels miserable. Further, the confusion and inability to make a decision only adds to his unhappiness.

It must be said that an influential voice does not only come from other people or groups. It may emanate from your own brain – or your your mind, if you prefer – in the form of a negative message. This is what we call the “inner critic”, which is an expression of the destructive conditioning to which so many people have been subjected in childhood. The addition of the inner critic to the voices advising you about a problem cannot be a good thing.

Apart from that, have you ever had a problem which was compounded by allowing yourself to be unduly influenced by another person, persons or group? Did you believe that you ought to listen to others, based on the some personal ‘rule’ that it’s bad to be narrow-minded? And that not listening to others identifies you as a stubborn or conceited person? Even though openness is often a positive quality, is that true at all times in all situations? Not necessarily, because there is no evidence that every idea about human behavior is true at all times. In fact there is a time when the smart thing is to only accept input from one trusted person.

Are you open to too much outside influence? If so, a little self-examination might be in order. What is it about you that might explain your tendency to be too open? Low self-confidence? A general inability to make decisions? Fear of being wrong, looking bad and failing? Or is the seeking of a great deal of input merely a desire for attention or sympathy? While it is not easy to be so honest with oneself, we must do so if we wish to be mature and to gain wisdom.

Many people struggle with this kind of issue. If you are among them, please understand that this does not mean something is wrong with you. It is a problem to be solved, and it can be resolved with the help of a professional. If you are ready to start paving the way to success in your career or in your personal life, please feel free to call (219) 309-3928. It would be an honor to be of service.

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