Circle of Influence

Whether you realize it or not, you are influenced everyday by things all around you. The music you listen to, the television shows that you watch, the books and blogs that you read, the people you hang out with. All of these voices contribute to the voice in your head and help shape your views.

When you were a teenager, you probably heard a lot about avoiding the wrong crowds and not giving into peer pressure. If you attended church youth group or Sunday School, you probably heard a lesson or two on guarding your eye gates and your ear gates, the gates to your heart. When we think of negative influence, we generally think of bad people who want us to do bad things.

But as I have grown older, I have grown wiser to knowing that the enemy of our souls can take good people and good things, and turn them into negative influences in our lives depending on what we are dealing with inside.

Yesterday we talked about knowing ourselves and accepting ourselves for who we are. You can make a nice long list of who you are and who you are not and feel very free and unburdened by the things you have laid aside. But then you open up your laptop and start reading all of the same blogs that you read yesterday, following all of the same people on Twitter and Pinterest, and if these people are awesome at all of the things you just put on your “I am not” list, you will probably start to feel down on yourself again.

“If I just try a little bit harder, I can be as good as her.”

And maybe you could. But yesterday you decided that isn’t something that you particularly enjoy or are naturally gifted in. And that it’s distracting you from things you do enjoy and are passionate about.

So to truly let those things rest on the “I am not” side of the paper, you might need to make some changes in your circle of influence.

Let me share some personal examples.

I used to be very interested in Waldorf education and I regularly read many Waldorf blogs. I tried so hard to be like the Waldorf moms and structure our learning at home to resemble a Waldorf kindergarten. But no matter how hard I tried, Waldorf was just not a good fit for me as a mom or a homeschooler. But as I continued to read the Waldorf blogs, I constantly felt like a bad mom and homeschooler because I wasn’t doing things as beautifully and perfectly as they seemed to be. So even though their blogs were wonderful and inspiring, I finally had to stop reading them because of the feelings of inadequacy that they brought out in me. Now many months later, I have developed confidence in my own eclectic mix of homeschool philosophies, and can visit Waldorf blogs and pull elements of Waldorf into my style without all of the negative feelings I used to feel.

Another example…

I enjoy sewing and crafting, and I have often entertained the idea of starting an etsy store. But here’s the thing, I like sewing and crafting when I’m in the mood to sew and craft, which is not every day. Plus, I am so busy with homeschooling and with ministry, I don’t know that I have the time or energy to start a small business right now. But if I follow a lot of shop owner’s blogs or Twitter feeds, I start thinking… “You know, I could have a great little etsy shop. It would be so much fun!” I entertain the idea for a couple of days, sketch little logo designs and come up with a list of things I would sell. Then I start to really think about the details – the time it would take me to make my products each day, the time to pack and ship the products to customers, the time to market myself, and I know it is not something that I want to give myself fully to right now. At least not in the season I am currently in. But if I continue to read the blogs and follow these ladies on Twitter, I continue to repeat this scenario which proves to be a waste of metal time and energy again and again, distracting me from doing the things that God has called me to focus on right now. (Update: I did end up opening a small shop selling hand knit scarves. With all the driving we are doing with our new commute, I have a lot of time to knit, so it is a good fit for this little season of life I am in. More info here.)

And there are many other examples I could give of television shows I have watched, books I have read, and blogs that I have followed that left me feeling unhappy and discontent with my life and who God made me. And I don’t want to live that way. I don’t want to constantly focus on the things that I am not good at or the things I do not have.

So I have said all of this to say that there might be some perfectly fine people in your circle influence right now that are producing something negative inside of you for some reason. Feelings of jealousy, greed, inadequacy, low self-esteem. Or it may simply be something or someone that the enemy is using to distract you from God’s plan and purpose for your life. If so, you may need to remove them from your circle for a little while or perhaps even permanently. You must be intentional about this, because as I said before, our circle of influence has a greater effect on the way we think about ourselves and the world around us than we may realize.

Cultivating Intention:

  • Go through your blog reader, your Twitter account, your Instagram feed, and your Pinterest boards and stop following the people that make you feel unhappy with your life and who you are. If they are great at something on your “I am not” list, you should probably stop following them, at least for a little while, until you gain more confidence in your “I am” list.
  • Now look for people to follow who are like-minded and are passionate about the things you are passionate about. Find people who will encourage you and challenge you to grow in the areas that you truly wish to grow.

Cultivating Grace:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

Let this verse be your standard for whom or what you allow to influence you. And remember, even if there is nothing inherently wrong with the influence, if it produces feelings within you that do not line up with this scripture, I encourage you to pray about whether or not you should remove this from your circle.

“Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of your life.” Proverbs 4:23

Always,

Amanda

This post is Day 12 of the 31 day series I am writing on cultivating a life of intention and grace. For a complete index of posts in this series, click here. To read more 31 Days series, please visit The Nester.

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Comments

  1. latoya @ a peacefulcrib says:

    I can totally agree ad relate to this. Last year I started a small business selling health and wellness products and after a while I discovered that while I like the products it really wasn’t my calling. My heart was not in it for the right reasons, I just wanted to be able to make a lot of money so that I could stay home permanently with my daughter and it was doing nothing to glorify God. I was following all these other bloggers and was in a fb group with a group of women who were doing so well in this area and it drove me nuts! I thought something was wrong with me until God pointed out there is nothing wrong with me, you’re just good at what I created you to be good at so you need to focus on that.

    After that realization I stopped following these ladies, not because I didn’t like them but because they were causing me to be unsatisfied with what I was unable to do. Once I stopped following them I immediately felt better and I was able to focus on the things God would have me to do. Circles of influence really are a big deal and we have to choose wisely. It’s a matter of heart! Girl you’re good, I’m really enjoying this series:)

  2. jess@notyouraveragemommy.com says:

    Yes, this is great. I absolutely agree. I was just talking with another mom today about how she had to stop looking at blogs for the very same reason. I had to quit Pinterest for a little bit because it just took over my own creativity. I like your practical suggestions for cultivating intention! We do need to guard our minds and our hearts and be very aware of thought patterns that are not of God. Thanks for such a thoughtful post! 🙂

    • Amanda Medlin says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! This is something I constantly have to keep in check in my life. I like what you said about being “very aware of thought patterns that are not of God.” That’s a great way to put it!

  3. Another lovely post, this series is so fantastic Amanda!! I am especially careful about what I watch on television and music I listen to, but I need to check out my blog reader and facebook etc to make sure I’m not being influenced in a way I don’t want to be. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Amanda Medlin says:

      I am glad that you are enjoying the series! Like you, I have always tried to keep my media exposure in check, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized the effects that some blogs and social media were having on me.

  4. This is great stuff, girl!

  5. GREAT post and this is something I do OFTEN. I’m talking once a month often. I love blogging and following other people, rubbing shoulders with people in the blogging community. I follow a ton of people on twitter and pinterest but greatly limit my time on those mediums. But when it comes to Facebook and subscribing by email I guard that with my life. I am glad to follow people but when I feel myself getting sucked into the comparison trap, coveting, feeling bad about myself, I am quick to unfollow and move on. I go through phases…first it was breastfeeding, cloth diapering, attachment parenting…then there was the at-home-preschool and sensory play phase…now I’m moving on to blogs like yours that focus on intentional and spirit-filled living and parenting. And maybe I’ll move on eventually…who knows. But it’s so freeing to know that I’m not the only one who does this!!!!

  6. I never unfollowed somebody because they seemed to be better or because they were more famous, etc. I believe that this is a thing of confidence. One has to realize that in a real life nobody can be the best in everything, and that even isn’t the goal. This is also why many people don’t try doing interesting activities, and even worse: they assume that their kids won’t be the best at doing something, so they just don’t it a try because: what’s the point if I cannot be as good as X or Y or somebody else? All disasters come from instantly comparing one human to another, one talent to another, and quite often these are incomparable entities. Everything has to be some kind of competition, and that is just profoundly wrong. People like me who have grown up and gotten education (I have MA degrees) in Europe, but later have moved to North America, perceive this differently. I read all kinds of blogs, I am also following all kinds of people since they respond with the same, but I do not get upset or think less of myself because somebody else is doing noticeably better. Good for them! As a real person in a real world, I do not measure my own success with some imaginative scale of global success. There is usually somebody who looks better, who does better or who at least scream louder about what they have done. You have to realize that anything is very relative. I am reading so much totally dumb nonsense on Facebook, I am sometimes leaving some groups because I just cannot take that much of dumbness, true. Anyway, people who strongly believe in themselves, who have plenty of confidence don’t need or have to feel upset, depressed or humiliated that they are not the top No. 1. Your blog besides is very interesting. I’ve been teaching for more than 30 years, I’ve done medical research for more than 30 years and I have done arts and crafts for about 45 years. I learned sewing when I was 12, it greatly helped me in bad times. I’ve sewn numerous wedding dresses for people who I loved, and I couldn’t do that for people who I disliked.
    Your home schooling blog is a great blog to check out!

    • Amanda Medlin says:

      Inese, I agree with you that we should not put pressure on ourselves to be the best but simply be confident in who we are and what we are called to do. Thanks for stopping by!

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