“Because everything we say and do is the length and shadow of our own souls, our influence is determined by the quality of our being.” -Dale Turner
My heart sinks every time I talk to my brother because his life is under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol has become his out, his “honest communication,” his excuse, his best & only friend, his world away from his reality. He is almost fifty years old and literally has become an alcoholic within the last ten years. How does that even happen? He didn’t even drink before that! What!?! Conversations with him have turned family against him, his children don’t talk to him anymore and he is creating more and more of a burnt bridge to anywhere he remotely is. Slowly but surely no one will be able to reach him. It is a sad reality.
I thought about the phrase, “Under the Influence,” and it began to hit me that life is a constant influence. What influences are you allowing to rule? What influences are you living? Are you an influence for good? Are you under the influence of light or darkness? Are you under the influence of good or bad relationships? Are you under the influence of addictions, whether they are food, shopping, drugs, lying, drinking, media time, gaming, etc. It is even easier to get sucked in to various avenues of influence because the world seems to attract the weaknesses that exist within us.
Would you say that you are aware of your influence? How are you around other people? What kind of energy do you carry? Do you lift and build or pull others down? Do you judge or shame? Do you gossip or hate? What do you say to others? Are you an influence of positive or negative? Think about it.
Again, what influences are you under? What influence are you? What influences you? good or bad. Look at your life.
My brother who has a drinking problem has been in a very serious life eddy and it has been hard for anyone in our family to pull him out. He drinks and drinks, sends text that say F*** you to my dear mother and other family. He has no respect for others and it is so hard to see him spiral under such an influence. He often uses the excuse, “it makes me be honest with my feelings.” He will call me so drunk and never remember our conversation. It is so hard. But, the saddest part is how it has ruined his relationships with his children. He could be such a positive influence within their life, but he chooses alcohol every time. It is a vicious cycle of such a mind-numbing, life-stealing, heart-breaking, addictive influence.
What is influencing your life??
How are you spending your time?
Be selective of who you spend time with, what you do with your time, where you spend your money, what influences you allow in…what you are filling your life with. Every single decision you make…it is a choice. It will have a direct influence on you, whether it is good or bad. Think of it like this. Do you think you will feel better by getting lost on social media for hours or taking one of you kids out for a one-on-one dinner conversation. What about tv time—would it be better spent getting lost in a reality show of hot bodies all vying for shallow intent or a documentary where you will learn something and expand your mind? Honestly, influences are all around you, so you have to be aware and make daily decisions on how, what, where and when your influences will sway you for your life.
“In every day, there are 1440 minutes. That means we have 1, 440 daily opportunities to make a positive impact.” -Les Brown
“We have a responsibility to influence the people in our lives to be the best possible people they can be: Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.” -Henry Cloud
I have talked to my daughter numerous times about this topic. She is in her second year in college and the campus she is on has been a challenge on various levels. My daughter is a very outgoing, bubbly, positive light of a person, but the time she has been there has been very lonely. She has found people don’t have the social skills to reciprocate her positive energy. She is constantly filling up other people with kindness, compliments, connections, bringing people together, planning gatherings, etc. Only to have everything feel very one-sided. It has been very tough.
“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” -Napoleon Hill
We had a conversation about influence and how she needs to just keep trying to be that positive influence, to continue shining a light and doing those things that will help fuel good…to plant good seeds within those people around her. She continues to strive to just be an influence for good. Sometimes you just have to plant the seed and have patience that it will grow into beautiful things across the campus. She is a leader, so it is in her nature to influence for good. It is a great gift that she has been given. Sometimes it might be hard to open the gift, but with the right intentions—good things come.
How can you be a positive influence for others? According to the Keller Institute, There is an ever-increasing epidemic of unhappiness in the world. There are 580,000,000 people Googling “How to be happy?” People complain, find fault, reject, criticize, and ridicule. Often for no reason other than they have found this the best way to get attention. Or perhaps they believe this is their only option for action. But there is another way to get attention or to find additional options. You can get others to respond to you with excitement and eagerness. How? By using positive influence. Positive influence is the impact you have on another person (AND yourself) by pointing out strengths and virtues. It is how you are, what you do, and the power you have on others to value what is best within themselves. Positive influence helps a person be better today than they were yesterday.
“If you can’t be your authentic self, you are connecting with the wrong people, they are wasting your time and holding you back. Meaningful connections require you to be your authentic self.” -Dr Henry Cloud
Strive for authentic connections. Ask people great questions, be genuinely interested in their life/stories, seek to understand their personal journey. Find those stepping stones through care and conversation that will bring authentic connection. I am always talking to my daughter telling her that questions are the building blocks to friendships, deeper relationships, etc. She is always afraid to ask deeper questions and I continue to push her to that authentic part of her that is vulnerable to share and let others in. We are all a work in progress, but with those connections comes greater influence, respect, care and deeper authenticity as a person.
Be positive. Be aware of the energy you carry. Do people truly want to listen or be around people who complain, vent, brag, negatively gossip about others, put down people in conversations, etc. Do your best to keep your conversations in a positive direction, listen, build, be aware of the energy and influence that you are sharing. You can FEEL what you are giving off or sharing with others. Is it good or bad?
Be kind instead of needing to be right. We are human. Everyone wants to be right, but being right is always putting yourself first and not listening or being aware of another person’s needs, voice or feelings. Kindness comes in as a equal.
Lead by example. I always tell my daughter, “Be the kind of friend you would want.” Begin with you. Put good out into the world, lead with love and others will notice and follow your example.
Be exquisitely present. How you listen, they way you resist the urge to talk over someone, avoid distractions (phone, texts, other people, etc), your eye contact, the genuine care you place in your conversations will make people feel seen and heard. Your influence with them will be reflected. It is the golden rule…treat others how you would like to be treated. It goes the same for being present with someone…listen with intent, truly listen to what is being said, don’t think about your response, just BE there with the other person.
“By being yourself, you put something wonderful in the world that was not there before.” -Edwin Elliot
Do you. When you are freely sharing your gifts, your enthusiasm, your light….then it also allows other people to see your vulnerability and feel like they can be more themself. When people can be who they authentically are, that is when things begin to change, which leads to groups of people using their gifts and talents, which brings greater influence and bigger changes.
Share your purpose. Thousands of people today don’t believe in meaning and purpose as something to discover or pursue in life. And others believe in a life purpose but won’t take the risk to identify or honor it. Those with positive influence feel otherwise. They have found that there is a purpose to their life, and that purpose usually involves some aspect of turning their “mess into a message,” or using what they’ve learned (often the hard way) as a means of being of service to others. People with a sense of purpose are driven, focused, committed, and lit up from the inside – unable to be deterred or distracted from what they believe is the reason they’re on this planet at this time. -Forbes. Love that! mess into message.
Always be a beginner. I love this idea…to always be learning and growing…always a beginner of something. I have lived most of my life this way. I LOVE learning and have challenged myself to take various community education classes to grow. Whether it has been teaching a yoga class, taking a photography trip with strangers, meditation, writing, art, Irish dancing, Sailing, etc. There are so many things to learn in this life…that is an incredible influence, in itself. You can always be learning and loving the process of becoming better by just beginning.
Share your visions and ideas. The world only changes by the ideas and visions we can create. Nothing changes without the influence of artists, creators, visionaries, those willing to expand their thinking and share it with others.
“YOU have the power to make a favorable. impact and a positive difference in the world just by being YOU.”
Those are a few ideas to get you influencing others. But the real work begins with you and what influences you are under and how they effect your world. Look at where you are, what you want from life and be selective in the process of what you allow into your life. The people, the circumstances, the environments, the choices, the mindset, your self-talk, the way you communicate, the way you dress, the way you live…there is an influence in all things—be aware and choose the best directions for your life. It is your life. Make it the best possible adventure you can live. It begins with YOU.
xoxo Peace, Love and Light to you. -H