We’re all influenced by those around us and by what is occurring in our lives. Something as simple as the weather can affect how we feel. A cloudy, rainy day can take an otherwise cheerful person and transform them into a gloomy Gus of sorts. Being stuck in traffic can alter one’s mood from that of excitement for what begins as a day filled with great anticipation to one of frustration and agitation. Moods can be uplifted or crushed by outside circumstances and once that occurs it can be very difficult to regain the positive mind frame we originally had.
We’ve all witnessed, or even experienced, how others influence who we are and the way in which we behave. A rather timid individual can be persuaded to participate in a risky endeavor at the encouragement of another. Bungee jumping, riding a motorcycle, or traveling to a foreign country can prove advantageous as it enables the other party to become more adventurous and therefore expand their life experiences. Trying new foods, undergoing a fashion makeover, or studying a new culture can all help to bring a shy person out of their shell and into a more diverse world.
We’ve also witnessed how other’s personalities have been affected by those around them. My friend, Joe, was very self-conscious. Unhappy with the fact that he was missing many of life’s joys by isolating, Joe made the decision to befriend people who were the exact opposite of him – outgoing and gregarious. In doing so, their confidence rubbed off on him and he found himself becoming more of the person he had always hoped he would be. And while these examples all seem to be beneficial to those involved, there are instances when the opposite can be true.
I’d venture to say that we’ve all be subjected to people who are poor role models and even poorer examples of the kind of person we aspire to be. After Sharon’s divorce in 2012, she began dating a younger man who was heavily into partying and the bar scene. Only an occasional social drinker, Sharon soon found herself drinking excessively in order to keep up with her new-found cohorts. Eventually, she lost her driving privileges due to a DUI as well as the respect of her family and former friends. Her life went into a downward spiral: she lost everything she had worked so hard to achieve. But most of all, she lost herself.
People often succumb to the bad behaviors of others. Your brother-in-law makes a nasty remark about you and you counter with one equally as offensive. Your boss hires her daughter as the new office manager. Resentment is high as the employees all ban together to make her work experience an unpleasant one. Pressure to participate in a behavior you find repugnant is intense. Do you concede or maintain your principles of treating everyone with dignity and respect?
Our world is filled with those who are poor role models. It’s easy to get swept up in the drama and feel pressured to relinquish our values. One who has high levels of moral integrity must never allow themselves to behave in an corrupt manner. One who is trustworthy can never lie or cheat or steal due to the coercion of those who engage in such unsavory acts simply because everyone does it.
Never ever allow anyone to bring you down to their level. One must always maintain their standards of integrity in order to be happy with who they are. If you do not approve of or like a behavior in another, such as arrogance, selfishness or rudeness, why would you want to embrace that as a part of your lifestyle? In doing so, you become exactly what you dislike in others and thereby lose all respect for yourself. When I was about ten years old, the group of girls I played with would all get together after school and go over to Nancy’s house. We’d sit at the dining room table and choose one person to make fun of. One by one, we’d all say unkind things about her. This was not how I was raised, I thought. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. But in an effort to fit in, I went along with the others. I allowed them to change who I was: a kind and thoughtful child. I hated myself and thankfully this activity was short-lived. But I learned an important lesson that has served me well for my entire life: and that is to always be true to myself and never allow anyone to change who I am.
I now refuse to allow anyone or anything to change me in any way. I carefully weigh all that enters my life from people to experiences and make individual determinations as to how I will allow them to influence me.
Before being swayed by another person’s attitudes or actions, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Is this in alignment with my basic values and moral principles?
2. What possible consequences would I or others face should I engage in this behavior?
3. How will I feel about myself during and after the event?
4. How will I be viewed by others?*
Never engage in any activity that causes you to:
a. violate your personal principles and values, creating inner turmoil and conflict.
b. feel embarrassed or ashamed during or afterwards, regardless of whether or not anyone else is aware of what’s transpired.
c. become unhappy and angry with yourself.
d. lose self-respect.
Never ever allow another person to change who you are. Always maintain your principles and values. You are the one who will ultimately pay the price or reap the rewards. Be smart; be self-loving.
* It is a common belief today that one must not concern themselves with what others think about them. I am not one who subscribes to this modern-day philosophy. I do believe other people’s opinions of us can be useful as they help us to understand how others see us. Perhaps they recognize something in us that we are not aware of, either unintentionally or because we’re in denial. Once realized, we can have a better understanding of ourselves and an opportunity to correct an inappropriate behavior.
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