You’ve heard me say before that everybody has influence because we all have an influence on the people around us. However, this can be a double-edged sword, especially if we let negative emotions rule us.
Negativity (and anger in particular) is not only an emotional state of being—it’s a destructive psychological force that colors everything we do and how we interact with people. According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, “Anger is one of the most common negative patterns in relationships,” and how we deal with anger begins with our early family relationships. It’s what we observe and mimic as children. “Our earliest experiences communicating and relating to others occurs within the family. Patterns of anger in relationships are then taken and recreated in later relationships outside the family.”
Makes sense, doesn’t it? We’ve often heard that our personalities are formed when we’re very young, and we bring those patterns that we’ve learned with us into adulthood. However, that doesn’t mean you have to be “stuck” with them. The good news is that we do have the ability to recognize these patterns and alter them if we choose. It may not be easy, but it’s doable. If you’re serious about improving your relationships and having a positive influence on the people you come in contact with, there are a couple of things you need to do.
First, Be Reflective and Observe Others
If you’re an angry individual, you’re probably aware that you have issues with this emotion—but you might not be aware of how your anger affects other people. So try to take a step back and observe how other people’s anger affects you.
When you’re around a person who is angry you can feel the negative vibes, and it has a repellant effect. No one likes to be around someone who exudes those kinds of feelings. We’re attracted to those who embody positive emotions—who always seem to have a genuine smile, an encouraging, sympathetic attitude and a can-do spirit. It rubs off on us—and so does negativity, so it pays to make yourself conscious of this, and observing others can often be helpful.
There’s no doubt that we tend to spread our emotions to those we come in contact with. Think about the emotional state of the people you come across in a given day…your boss, the receptionist at the doctor’s office—even the people who share an elevator with you going to work in the morning. Think back…how did their emotional state affect you?
Get Your Head in the Game
Once you learn to recognize the problem, you CAN influence your own emotional state and change destructive patterns. It takes time, but just remember that you’re going to have an influence on somebody, whatever side of the emotional spectrum you happen to be in on a given day. It could be positive—it could be negative—but it’s going to happen, so wrap your head around that. It may be your child or spouse, a co-worker, client or prospect. The last thing you want to do is to influence them in a negative way, right? I’ve found that one of the best ways to train yourself out of patterns of anger is to practice more positive patterns, and remove yourself from situations (and people) that tend to feed negative emotions.
Starve the Monster—Feed the Light
When I was going through my divorce and fighting to stay in my daughters’ lives, it was very difficult for me not to give in to the anger and frustration of the situation. There was no easy fix. I couldn’t just tell myself to be happy and everything would magically be healed. It was hard not to be dragged down by it. However, I found that with a lot of reflection, and with concerted effort over time, I could surround myself with positive people, be more cognizant of my emotional state and stay focused on NOT feeding the anger monster.
Let me tell you, it was tough… that monster knew how to push my buttons! However, being angry is a habit, and like any habit, it can be changed with practice. I find that if I start my day on a positive note, first by exercising and mediating on what I’m grateful for in my life, it’s easier to avoid getting sucked into negative emotions throughout the day that not only pull me down, but also affect others I come in contact with.
Am I always successful? Nope. Nobody’s perfect, and we all have emotional ups and downs. However, working on making positivity a habit has helped me tremendously in developing and maintaining business and family relationships, and has even had a positive effect on my health.
Remember that as human beings we all influence each other every day of our lives. It’s up to you to consciously choose HOW you influence others, and how you influence ourselves—and to make choices that keep that influence positive.