Influences vs Having a mind of your own

Every day we are exposed to a bunch of potential influences that can affect how we think and how we feel about things.

  • TV: They don’t call TV ‘programming’ for no reason at all!
  • Mass media in general: newspapers, magazines, adverts….
  • Family and the traditions, beliefs, principles and ideals they instil in you
  • School upbringing: The first place where we’re taught to fit in with the norms of society. Often in schools children are labelled by skills (eg in school we had the "triangles" math group and the "squares", and we all knew that anyone in the triangles was bad at math, and everyone in the squares was seens as really bright in their math skills.). It’s sad because such labels are often integrated into people’s identities and can stay with them, limiting the person if they are not overcome. People often rise to whatever standards you set for them.
  • Friends: Some say that friends adopt traits of friends, so who you hang out with is who you become to a certain extent.
  • What other people say about you: This include society-set rules and norms, and also what people like your colleagues, classmates etc think of you. I often fall into this one… but I think a lot of people do. How many people do you know who chose a career just because "it was a good line of work" (ie society dictates that it’s a well-respected line of work) and have stuck with it even though they find it kinda boring?  These people are stuck in a lifestyle that they never actually wanted!
    In many ways, society conditions people to “go with the flow”, to “accept what is offered”, and “don’t make any waves ”. Sometimes, this is falsely interpreted by some as advice to NOT follow their dreams. If you need to step outside of what is normal and usual to pursue your dreams, then do exactly that.
    Ideally you should have enough of a mind of your own not to be influenced by anything others say or think. mm easier said than done in my opinion.
  • Books like self-help books that tell you how you *should* be and what you should do to be that way

Moral here is that in spite of being exposed to influences, a strong mind of your own keeps you on the right track for you. We all have choice, whether we’re talking about choice of career, choice of principles, beliefs, friends, or (some may say) even emotions.

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