Friday, 23 March, 2018

The web of influence

Story: Charlene Farrell | 03rd December 2017, 03:49 Hrs

Considering that we come across varied individuals in our lifetimes, it is safe to say that an average human being with a normal lifespan would meet upwards of over 10,000 people over the years. Given this impossible statistic, it is only fair to look at these interactions more closely. We all realise the complexity of human relationships and we know that those connections are the ones that make life exciting.
When we look at the natural interactions we have over the years and if we really think about them objectively, we will realise that at some point in our lives we have been in an interaction wherein the other person's mood has influenced our own in some way or form.
Emotions are extremely strong and when an individual is experiencing a strong emotion, the vibes they exude are tremendously tangible. These vibrations tend to pass on to those who are around. In my opinion, it is precisely this phenomenon that makes people experience emotions about another individual for no apparent reason. Let's break this down a bit to make this a bit more comprehendible. Think back to a time when you had an extremely strong opinion about a thing or a person simply because someone you were close to, admired or cared for, held that opinion. You will realise that people in your surroundings can actually exert an influence over you.
It is astonishing how energies actually pass on from person to person. When a person in the room is in a negative mood, it is highly likely that that mood gets passed on to the others present. As social beings, it is also very easy for us to get influenced by these emotions and wrapped up in feelings that do not necessarily belong to us. In saying as much, it is highly likely that individuals on some level lose their individuality because they get easily wrapped up in the opinions of others.
This is the same tendency that is spoken about strongly when we discuss adolescent problems that centre around peer pressure. When we discuss issues like this one extremely common point that we encounter is the unidirectional flow of influence. This however, is not true in its entirety. Negative influences are not the only type there are. Very often, positive influences take precedence over all else.
We need to also be aware that peer pressure is not merely an adolescent problem. As individuals grow, these pressures take on different forms. From the influences of parents, friends and spouses to that of friends, bosses and political parties, as adults, we too sometimes fall prey to the web of influence. Where does this phenomenon come from? Well, it comes from a well-documented word, POWER. Very often, people in powerful positions take on the influencer role. This individual, often has very strong views and ideals and uses these to sway the ideas and ideals of their subordinates. When the power seems to be leaving their grasp, another automatic but still dangerous tendency kicks in. They panic so quickly and so completely, that they seek situations where they still feel they can exert their authority but sadly, pay no heed to the people they trample on in their urgency to hold on to power.
Those who fall into the influence trap, tend to often feel the pressure to comply, but they find it difficult to put their foot down and say an assertive no. For these people, stress, negativity and frustration become added battles they have to fight against.
Being influenced by another person's feelings, emotions, ideas and views causes a very subtle but yet real feeling of negativity. It is amazing to note that human beings are very susceptible to the influence of others. It is a fact that most of us do not really want to accept, for we believe strongly that we are independent, strong thinkers and no one can actually sway us to their tunes.
When it does happen, we move into self-preservation mode and actually convince ourselves that the views and feelings are actually and ultimately our own. This world and its people are wonderful. What we need to focus on is our own, informed, well decided minds. Being wrapped up the influence of others just allows the negativity to spread.

(Charlene Farrell is a counselling psychologist who works extensively with children and adolescents.)

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