“Life is too short to spend with people who suck the happiness out of you.”– Steve Maraboli
Too often, we underestimate the power of influence. The people we surround ourselves by can affect our choices, our behaviours and our ability to reach our potential. I learned a very important lesson in this past year: I learned that my ultimate happiness is less limited by what I have not yet got and more so by the negative influences already impacting parts of my life.
Consider for a moment that maybe, rather than needing to fill gaps in your own life with new people, things and money, you could actually be happier in the present if you felt less stress, worry and anxiety from the negativity you might already receive from others. It is time for a spring clean?
Identifying Negative Influences
You might not even be aware of negative influences. Start by thinking about the people in your life: your immediate family, extended family, friends, colleagues and anyone else you come into regular contact with. How do they make you feel? When you spend time with each of these people, think about how you come away from the situation. Every person and every interaction will have the ability to guide your mood or behaviour.
Now think about how significant that feeling is. Is how your colleague or your partner makes you feel important? Evaluate the relationship, the emotion and frequency with what really matters to you.
These steps should help you think about how the people around you affect your behaviours. You should now have an idea of who in your life has a positive influence on how you feel, and who has a negative influence. Positivity breeds positivity, just as negativity breeds negativity. The more we spend time with people that make us feel bad about ourselves, the less happy we will be. Let’s focus on being happier.
The Impact of Negative Influences
People who have a negative influence in your life can make you feel drained, lower your self-esteem or make you feel down and sad. It is not always straightforward to connect the way you feel with the person who has triggered the emotion, but the above exercise may have helped.
Negative influences can impact your actions as well as your emotions, by limiting your self-belief or confidence, therefore restricting your ability to try new opportunities, for example. Now that I have identified the negative influences in my own life, I become very aware of how much better I feel when I am not being affected by them, which has encouraged me to take positive action.
How to Reduce Negative Influences
Reducing or removing negative influences from your life can be really difficult, especially if the person or people in question has a strong family connection. It is always important to remember that you are worthy of happiness and spending less time with someone who has a negative influence on you does not need to be negative for them. It is often those who fear change the most that will end up finding the most benefit from it.
Think about how you can reduce your exposure to negative influences. It may be possible to remove some connections completely, for example by leaving a toxic workplace. For others, such as a close family member, it may be that you limit the time you spend with them, or think of ways that you can have a positive influence on your relationship with them. If you are not sure how, speak to a mutual person who will be able to offer guidance.
If you are in a potentially dangerous situation, the best thing is to walk away and seek appropriate support.
Increasing Positive Influence
When you considered the people surrounding you, you would have identified people that have a positive influence on your life. These are the people that it would be valuable to spend more time with, if possible. Identify opportunities to spend time with people who make you feel happy.
This may sometimes mean taking a second look at the status quo, your culture, or how you perceive roles and relationships. Placing your wellbeing, peace and happiness at a higher priority will have both short and long term benefits for you and your loved ones.
I have found replacing negative influences with positive influences to be incredibly effective. It has enabled me to distance myself from the negative influences in my life as I work towards removing or reducing them.
How do you manage negative influences? Have you found spending less time with people that you have identified as having a negative influence to have a positive impact on your own wellbeing? Please share any ways that you have been able to improve the positive relationships in your life.