How Do the People You Hang Out With Influence Your Thinking?

Who are the 5 people you hang out with the most? Do they encourage you? Do they tell you what you need to hear, not just what strokes your ego or helps justify your feelings? Do they challenge you to grow? Even when you disagree, do they stand firm in their convictions? Are they loyal to you even when it’s not easy being your friend? Do they help strengthen you when you’re stressed?

Rohn quote

Sure, we ultimately make our own decisions, but the more time you spend with someone, the more their impact on your thinking. For good and for bad, the people you spend time with influence you. Do you find this to be true?

But because we can’t, nor should we, eliminate all interaction with negative people or those who disagree with us, we must instead seek to deliberately choose what we allow to impact our thinking. Certainly, this involves the actual amount of time spent with someone. But how much does it also involve the depth to which you are vulnerable & transparent?

For example, you can spend time with negative, gossipy coworkers but refuse to let them influence your thinking by counteracting their influence through the other people you spend time with, the books you read, the movies and TV shows you watch, and even the music you listen to both during and outside of work.

Bob Sorge, in the final chapter of The Fire of Delayed Answers, brings Biblical application to this concept using Psalm 1:1-4.

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither — whatever they do prospers.

The Psalm doesn’t say we can or should avoid ungodly values, morals and attitudes altogether, but it does tell us we can choose not to walk, stand and sit with those living them. We can avoid much ungodly impact simply by how and where we choose to position ourselves. Failing to do so results in a gradual giving of ourselves to sin. Sorge expresses the idea this way:

“The sequence of “walks,” “stands,” and “sits” describes progressive entrapment in sin. The temptation of sin is to walk by, then to stand and hang out, and finally to sit down in it.”

Truth is, we will be tempted in these ways regularly. No practical way to avoid them. Influence comes at us constantly and in uncountable ways, but we can choose where to dwell and what we allow to dwell within us.

Let’s apply this concept to our virtual relationships. Who do you hang out with the most in forums or on social networking sites? Who do you walk, stand and sit with on a regular basis via text, email, blog reading/commenting, etc.?

For the month of April, Struggle to Victory will focus on my virtual influences by featuring guest posts, by guest posting on other sites, and by highlighting some of the regular visitors to this blog. Hopefully, you’ll be encouraged, strengthened & challenged by these people as much as I have on a regular basis, people I am proud to say have an impact on my thinking in ways that matter eternally.

DISCUSSION: Are you the average of the 5 people you spend time with, virtually or otherwise? How can you apply Psalm 1 when we have as much, if not more, bad influence coming at us as good?

18 thoughts on “How Do the People You Hang Out With Influence Your Thinking?

  1. I choose to spend my time with positive people as much as possible. I am a very positive person and want me to rub off and for their energy to rub off on me. Fire fuels fire so to speak.
    My recent post Power

    • Just from your blog & your comments, I can tell you are a very positive person & influence. You've taken it a step further and not just determine to HAVE positive influences but to BE one as well.

  2. "The more time you spend with someone…" It is so true. I used to tell my children if someone was a negative influence, "still be there friend at school but limit your time with them away from school." It's the same with coworkers, people at church, or even our neighbors.

    I like that "walk, stand, and sit" way of looking at it. I will remember that. Thanks Kari!
    My recent post 20 Quotes for April Fool’s Day

    • We tell our boys the same thing. Respect for others no matter what, but be careful who you choose to "dwell" with. Then, we try to set the example for them too, so they see it and don't just hear it from us.

  3. I do think it is important who you spend your time with but if we only choose those that think just like us then we don't have our thinking challenged very much. Those that challenge me I don't always choose to be with them but circumstance may require it but I do know if someone opposes me it makes me work harder on what I believe to be true and to work harder on making sure I stand on firm ground.
    Also a healthy debate with a person of integrity expands your own mind even if you do not change what you think.
    I do think we should also from time to time evaluate who are we spending our time with. Is it good for us? Is it good for them? The disciplines were known to be different because they spent time with Jesus as we each should.

    • I agree, Mark. We need people to challenge us. I think if they always agree with us, they aren't necessarily positive influences on us. One thing my husband & I think is important is being willing to not agree with each other. It's a strength of our relationship, I think, and I have that with others too. Though, I do need to watch myself. It's easy to get offended or hurt if you're tired or stressed or whatever. Also, you're so right about the importance of evaluating our relationships. I had someone (a couple of them actually) I should have done that with and didn't, and I ended up getting very hurt. It's not that we can avoid hurt, but I would definitely have done things differently. Live & learn! Thanks for the additional thoughts, my friend. Your comment not only brought up a new perspective, but it also set an example of it.

  4. For me it's easier to surround myself with like-minded people online.
    As for my "real life", God has blessed me some awesome family and friends nearby.

    Your post brought to mind the old adage, "Show me your friends and I'll show you your future."

    Who we hang out with most really does impact who we are and who we become.

  5. I hadn't thought of this principle in the virtual sense, but it's just as true online as it is in the real world. I must say that I am extremely particular about those I allow in my life – maybe too picky at times. However, through observation I typically know who will be a good fit and who won't. The reality is that I want positive influences in my life, not people who will bring a lot of drama and negativity. This typically means I find myself building relationships with fellow bloggers, high achievers, deep thinkers, and those who are actively pursuing their calling in life.
    My recent post Stop Waiting on God or Someone Else

    • Being deliberate about your influence like this is so important Chris. And I find that when I am intentional about who I allow to influence me, I am stronger and better able to BE a positive influence. I can have a positive impact on those who do live with drama and negativity and not let it impact me because I have these other influences. Does that make sense?

      • Yes, definitely. We can find encouragement in our positive friendships because we will never live a life completely free of drama and negativity. I received a text the other day from a family member. She is typically down on herself and job situation. It's been an ongoing pattern for man years. She started revisiting something that had happened to her a number of years ago in a job, as if it had just happened last week. Instead of allowing her to wallow in her misery, I offered to give her a book that helped me the next time I see her.
        My recent post Stop Waiting on God or Someone Else

        • That's a great example! So many people do live in the past, unable to move forward in any area of their lives. My parents do that, and it's frustrating to be around them at times. I was talking with a friend the other day about finding that balance between loving people where they are and loving them enough to encourage them to grow from where they are. Related to this, one motivation I had for simplifying my life was to be able to be available more for other people, typically ones trapped in busyness but also for my busy teenagers & husband. Being able to meet needs in this way is amazing. I'm glad we're talking about this because I am feeling like I need to refocus on doing that more deliberately.

  6. It's the reality of "in the world, but not of the world" that Jesus spoke about. The only way to consistently live such a stance is fellowship with God and His Holy Spirit. You're so right, we are influenced constantly and sometimes so subtly we don't know it's happened until it's there. We need Him to reveal what we've taken into our hearts and free us from anything we've aligned ourselves to. Great thoughts, Kari. Thank you!
    My recent post Proper Care & Feeding of Your Ego

    • Over the years, I've learned the lesson of influence in some very tough and painful ways. More of Him is always the answer to this challenge. Nothing else works. Any specific ideas on how to fight the barrage of influence coming at us seemingly every second of every day?

  7. The actions we have and our attitude really reflect the people we associate with and spend time with. We have to be careful and wise about who we spend our time with, both online and offline. I focus my attention on those who share similar beliefs, vales, and passions as my own. LOVE this topic and post! Great content!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *