Lifestyle Psychology

Spotting a Bad Influence and Cutting it out

Not a lot of people realise just how much influence others can have over them. Even during normal life, those you interact with each day will all have an impact on your actions, changing the way you handle things and carry yourself in the modern world.

This might not happen consciously, but you would be surprised if you knew how much we are influenced subconsciously. Have you ever spent time with a group of people and soon find yourself using a word that forms part of their vocabulary? It’s just how our brains work. We are extremely influencial and easily influenced. Our personalities are ever changing, evolving and adjusting to our surroundings.

This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, with a lot of people gaining their most positive traits from the people around them. When someone is pushing you in the wrong direction, though, it’s worth knowing what you can do to address the balance.

Know what to look for

This all starts with knowing what to look for, and this can often be the hardest part of the process. If you want to stop drinking, for example, and have agreed to take it on with a friend, but they are constantly failing their goals and working to convince you to do the same. Following their route wouldn’t get you what you want, but they will make you feel as though it doesn’t matter. When you spot something like this, it’s worth moving onto the next stage right away.

If you’ve been working hard at something and get the slightest feeling that someone is not respecting that, walk away. Your gut feeling is always right.

Maybe you’ve been studying really hard and have a goal in mind, you’re friends will try and persuade you to go out and party with them all the time. These ‘friends’ do not have your best interests at heart and therefore shouldn’t be trusted. Or if you’re on a strict diet and your loved ones are putting you in difficult positions regarding food choices in the house, address the issue and try to avoid mealtimes with them as much as possible.

Your goals and principles should take priority over any bad influence in your life. Bad influences will always be around, you simply need to learn to identify them and move away from them timeously.

Talking it through

Most people won’t be aware that they are spreading the wrong kind of influence until they are told, making it a good idea to start with a conversation. You should tell them that it is hard for you to achieve your goals without them, especially with pressure to fail. You can give an ultimatum at this point, threatening to stop your efforts with them if they don’t stop trying to drag you into their mess.

Confronting the bad influences in our life can be a daunting experience. Some will understand better and others will become defensive. Before confronting the bad influences in your life – especially when it’s close relatives and loved ones – try putting yourselves in their shoes first. Have sympathy and understanding for the things they do and the reasons thereof. 

Do not confront them in front of other people, as they might not feel comfortable about other people being present. Keep calm and breathe before you speak. A friendly conversation can go a long way. 

Working for change

Once you’ve spoken about your concerns, you can start to work towards change in your influencer. When you feel like they are trying to push you, simply let them know, giving them the chance to correct what they are doing before it becomes an actual issue. Some people will get the message, stopping this behaviour. Others, though, will find it hard not to have their way, and this leaves you with a difficult choice.

Going in your own direction

When someone is threatening the goals you’ve managed to achieve by dangling fun in front of your face, it’s worth simply taking them out of your life for a while. Once you’re more confident that you are secure in your direction, it will be alright to be around people like this, but this will depend on whether or not they’re still able to influence you. It’s hard being on both sides of this issue, with most people struggling to know what they can do to improve their relationship.

Hopefully, this post will give you everything you need to start working towards avoiding the influence of others. A lot of people find this work very challenging, with those closest to you often being the ones who influence you the most. As mentioned at the start, though, this isn’t always a negative thing.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation with a bad influencer in your life? How did you come about to identify it, and how did you handle the situation? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

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South African Lifestyle Blogger. Blogging in the fields of Lifestyle, Relationships, Parenting, Health and Psychology.

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  • Kirsty

    I love love love the message in this article. There’s nothing worse than reading about bad influencers and how we should just ruthlessly cut them out of our lives with no chance of redemption/growth. We should give them the opportunity to change 🙂

  • Layna

    Wow, this hits pretty close to my heart. I’ve had friends like that and I meet them about once every 2 months. But I told myself no more because I didn’t like hanging out with them so I stopped all contact and thankfully, they’ve never really kept pushing to meet up too. So that’s toxic friends goodbye!

    Haha thanks for sharing!


  • OneMoreLightLB

    This a great post; I love the strong and affirmative stance on life it promotes but also recognising the need to be gentle and understanding with people! Xx

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