Our behaviors are influenced by who we hang out with. If we are friends with smart people, we look at things from a “smart” point of view. If we hang out with poor friends, their viewpoints become our own. If we hang out with bookworms, chances are that we read more books. In short, we become like those whom we are around.
I recently realized that this is also true of the things in our lives…or at least in my life. I know that I’m influenced by whatever I surround myself with on a daily basis. And this was driven home as I listened to a romantic suspense novel.
In the past, I’d listen to books (usually non-fiction) while driving, but recently tried a fiction book. Then last week I realized that I hadn’t been driving enough to finish a book, so I listened while exercising. That book that I had been “getting through” was finished quickly, and I clicked on the next in line, The Perfect Dress, by Carolyn Brown.
Something about this book grabbed me. Next thing I knew, my dishes were washed, the kitchen floor was mopped, the laundry was folded and put away, and I was looking for more to do so that I could continue listening.
I also happened to notice that I was eating a lot. This is normal if I’m tired. Knowing that I’d gotten a full night’s rest, had meditated and exercised, I didn’t understand what was going on…until this morning as I started to listen again.
That is when I realized that the characters in the book were constantly talking about food. And it all sounded good…fried chicken, donuts, and such. I know that my body doesn’t like this food, and I rarely eat it. But I was stuffing my face with food that I did have in the kitchen. Then it dawned on me. I was surrounding myself with the characters, and I was adopting their behavior, which in this case was a lot of eating.
That got me to wondering. What are all the different ways that things around us are influencing us so much so that we are adopting the behaviors or ways of thinking just because that is what we are exposed to, when in reality, if we truly chose, we wouldn’t choose that?
We change our clothing because the styles change. We go to popular restaurants because other people do. We vote for someone because the media influences our opinions or others are voting for the candidate. (Admit it. Very few people do actual, independent research and instead rely on others’ opinions.)
You get the idea. Much of what we do, think, and even feel is in reaction to other people and their points of view as well as what they are doing.
As you go through your day, ask yourself, “Is what you are doing, thinking or feeling actually yours or are you picking it up from someone else?” It will probably feel like it is yours, because most people can’t imagine feeling something that isn’t their own. However, this happens all the time.
Then ask yourself, “If this isn’t mine, what do I choose?” Just allow your subconscious to speak to you as you sit with the question. You don’t actually have to sit while you do this. You can go about your day. The whole idea is to ask yourself and listen for the response. It may show up as a thought or an awareness from within you or from something on the outside. Something you see, hear or feel will give you a sign that will create an awareness. It’s sort of like “DING! There is the answer.”
Once you have the answer, you can make a choice and then take the next step toward your choice.
As for the book influencing my eating, I realize that eating as the characters do doesn’t make me feel my best. So, I’m making the choice to eat healthy foods…and a lot less than I was. In addition, I made the choice to stop listening to the book for hours on end. I’ve got other things I choose to do, such as write this blog. It’s time that I surround myself with something more in line with my desires.
What about you? If you had choice, which you do, what would you choose? Who or what would you surround yourself with to support those choices? The choice is up to you.