Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Influencers

Look around, and you will find influencers everywhere. Influencers can be people you know well or can be complete strangers. They can come in groups or can be individuals. Sometimes influencers have a specific impact they are consciously trying to create. Other times, they are oblivious to the influence they're having. In some cases, it is situations that are the influencers.

In every case when one influences another, there will always be an effect. I've decided to be vigilant regarding the people and situations that influence me so that I can be more likely to experience positive effects.

When we watch television, there are innumerable influences that we are subject to. Some influencers are seeking to create fear (watch the news shows); others want to create lightness and laughter; some influencers want to educate and empower, and some simply want to shock us or create doubt in something we had previously believed.

The people we come in contact with every day, like friends, family and co-workers, also influence us. We can be hurt, angered, inspired or stimulated. We can be annoyed and influenced to complain and spread negative energy and pass on the influence we just received, or we can be softened and touched by an influencer and then go on and share that. We can be amused or insulted, challenged or seduced. We can feel better or feel worse than we did prior to the influence.

There's no way to completely avoid influencers. In fact, we all belong to the club. We influence and we are influenced.

As I thought about those that influence me most, I realized that I purposely seek exposure to those whose influence brings out the best in me. I seek the influence of those that create trust and do not focus on building my fears or creating new ones.

When I am tuned in and alert, I feel a negative influence rather quickly. Once I'm aware I can then decide to hang around or not. I can choose to seek the company of a more positive influencer instead, or just turn off my radio signal that receives what is being sent. By the same token, when I am aware of the influence I am creating, I am more careful with what I say and how I behave.

It is mighty empowering to realize that I need not be victimized by influeners and that I can control my exposure. It is also gratifying to know that my influence can be more positive by simply remembering I am influencing.

So, what influencers have been affecting you lately?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Imaginary Conversation

Yesterday, I discovered a new tool for finding my way back to peace. It was to have an imaginary conversation.

A few days ago, I had an interaction with a stranger that left me feeling ill at ease. I know I entered the encounter not feeling at my best and at the end, I felt worse. Unfortunately, this interaction was not with someone close to me, so it was not going to be easy to go back and clear things up with him.

When I noticed I kept on thinking about the interaction, I realized although I believed it would have been better if he apologized for his dog aggressively coming after mine, perhaps there was more going on for him that I didn't understand.

In my imaginary conversation, I sat down on the front steps of the home this man was building and where he let his dog run free. I asked him why he allowed his dog to run, knowing that he frequently goes after people or animals walking along the road. The dog owner told me that they are a team and that where he goes, his dog goes. In essence, they're partners. I was able to soon see that the relationship with his dog had some special meaning for him. I felt my annoyance subside and my compassion grow.

He assured me that his dog is not mean, although he does have a tendency to sometimes protect the area where his master is working. In my imaginary conversation, once he saw I was no longer angry, he opened up even more and shared that his wife recently left him and took their children with her, and now only his dog remains in his life.

In this imaginary conversation, my heart softened. I no longer felt angry or resentful. In fact, I felt love for this stranger. I understood that his behavior at the time did not clearly give me clues to the pain and fear he was feeling when our interaction occurred.

In our imaginary conversation, I also got to share what I was feeling at the time. My new friend understood my fear and took my hand to comfort me.

Together, two strangers, sat in my imagination and made peace after sharing what we were both feeling. We didn't attack, defend or blame. We listened and understood.

Although this conversation was imaginary, the feeling of peace, understanding and even love was real. I no longer hold resentment or anger for this man. I have forgiven him..... I forgive myself too for not being very understanding at the time . You see, both of us were in a state of fear when we met, so we were unable (at the time) to see beyond our own egos. Instead we attacked, both taking our righteous stand at making the other wrong.

What I am very grateful for is that even though I may never have the opportunity to speak to this man in a real conversation, the imaginary one in my mind restored my peace and the knowing that there is always more going on in any situation than what may appear to be.