Seems like we’re in and out of the process of rebuilding our lives. But no matter what stage we’re in, we need to consider the influences in our lives and how they are impacting our ability to rebuild our lives and move forward after traumatic events. Have you really thought about who is influencing you?
Who Influences You
I believe influence may actually start as early as conception. The events of a mother’s pregnancy can affect her child as she carries it. If she’s happy and healthy, that will positively impact the child she is carrying.
What if she endures a number of traumatic events or heartbreaks while carrying her baby? Events like a divorce, job loss, the loss of one or both parents, or other major losses can significantly impact her. Then the baby will, in turn, be impacted by what’s happening in the mother’s body as a result of those traumas or losses because there’s a direct connection through the umbilical cord. So before we’re even born, I believe that our mothers are influencing our lives. Have you ever thought about that? How might your mother or father be influencing your rebuilding process even now as an adult? Are there old messages replaying from childhood about your ability to do things?
We tend to think about the big things that parents might influence us about, but not the smaller things. We hear about the women with crack cocaine addictions who give birth to babies who also have crack addictions, but we don’t think about how the far less dramatic daily events might impact our world—especially all the good things they do for us. Our mothers are the first to influence us. Next, come our dads and our other family members. Our home environment begins shaping who we are as we grow up. What we’re exposed to at home becomes “normal” to us. Is that influence one of screaming, shouting, fighting, crying, hitting, manipulating, lying, and cursing or is it loving, reassuring, affirming, building up and challenging us to aim higher? As we grow up, relatives, friends, school teachers, neighbors, co-workers, and bosses all influence us.
I remember a college professor during a healthcare program entrance interview telling me that because I didn’t do well in high school chemistry, he expected me to do no better than that chemistry grade throughout the entire healthcare program! That’s ridiculous! I promptly set out to show him that he was wrong. And I did! I graduated from that entire program in the Honor Society. Now that’s making lemonade with the lemons he threw at me. That’s how it can go when we learn to be resilient.
What Those Influences Do
We are influenced by those we’re around, what they say about us and to others, how they act toward us, what we listen to on the radio or with our music, what we watch, or what others try to get us to do. The question is will these influences move us in positive directions or in negative ones? Will those influences cause us to be more loving, caring, and serving or just the opposite?
If a parent repeatedly tells you that you’re no good, then it may take a while to overcome that type of influence and know that you’re valuable and have a lot of worthwhile skills, talents, and gifts to offer the world. Pouring such toxic thoughts into a child’s mind can leave a lifetime of devastation unless the child learns the truth about who God says he is and what He says he can do. God sees His children as winners with unique skills, talents, giftings and great potential!
On the other hand, if you’ve had parents telling you that you can do anything you set your mind to do, you’ll be out there tackling the world at every turn. You’ll be willing to try new things and to interact with others more readily. Big difference from the negative approach, isn’t it?
What is influenced?
Everything in our lives can be influenced! From how we think about ourselves, our lives, what we wear, what we eat, where we go, how we act around others, how we can handle our lives, our finances, our shopping, and our future. Wow. Big list! I personally like to read my Bible and let God use His Owner’s Manual (the Bible) to guide me through life and be my greatest influence.
We need to pay attention to who and what is influencing us negatively, and consider what we are believing about ourselves in order to make the adjustments to move forward in positive ways. In fact, we might have one of those aha moments when it feels like a big light bulb came on to show us exactly who to stay away from because of the negative influence they have on our lives. It might be someone who calls you a lot to go shopping when you’re trying to stick to a budget. Or it might be someone calling you to go to sports events instead of getting to bed on time so you’ll be alert at an early morning meeting.
Tips to Overcome Wrong Influences
So you’ve probably had to do this before. Start weeding out those negative influences in your life and keep the positive ones around. Easier said than done, but start slow and keep at it! Not everybody deserves to be your best friend. Some people may need to shift to acquaintances and stay at more of a distance.
We need to limit our exposure to those who are not building us up, but who tend to wear us down or tear us down. I call them the “Gimmes.” As they come toward you they almost always have a handout and ask can you give me… thus the name. 🙂 They nearly always want or need something or expect more of you or from you for some reason, but they rarely ask if there’s anything they can do for you. A true relationship includes both people giving and serving each other and building one another up.
So who or what is influencing you and how? It is true that influences will either draw us closer to God or drive us away from God. So we need to be aware of who and what’s influencing us and choose wisely. Otherwise, our rebuilding process might take longer or may even get totally derailed. I would love to hear about your experiences (that you can share) regarding the impact of influences in your life.