9 Sources of Influence in Your Life

The world is constantly moving. Data is swirling around in all directions. And at times, you may feel like you’re at the center of it all. So many things can influence you, such as a familiar sweet smell as you drive through your old neighborhood, a picture hanging on the wall in your dentist’s office, or even just a color on a billboard.

Here is a snapshot of nine sources of influence that are affecting you every day. These sources are at the heart of your day-to-day choices, and have a far-reaching effect on how you live your life as well as whether you’re satisfied or frustrated with your life, overall.

  1. Self-talk — What goes through your mind when making a decision is often subtle and easy to miss, but very powerful. The things you say to yourself in your head can empower you or make you feel completely powerless. They can cause you to pause and think about your next action, or drive you to make choices mindlessly.
  2. Previous Experiences — If your current circumstances resemble experiences you’ve had before, that may push you to make the same familiar choice you made before…or compel you to make a different one. Even experiences we’ve long forgotten can influence our choices years later.
  3. Environment — When you’re in unfamiliar surroundings, you may feel uptight or vulnerable, your confidence might be low which can cause you to make conservative decisions when the opposite might be best. If you’re in a familiar environment, you may feel at ease or empowered, which will influence your choices in a different direction. However, if you’re in a familiar environment where good or bad things may have happened, again, that will influence your emotional state, your thoughts, and your actions.
  4. Senses — What you’re seeing, touching, tasting, or smelling can influence how you perceive your environment and how you feel, emotionally. Sensory feedback is hitting you constantly and can cause you to feel as you did in past experiences, both good and bad, without you knowing why you feel the way you do.
  5. People — Whether through peer pressure, or  a fondness toward someone, just being with other people can cause you to eliminate some choices as options and make other choices much more likely for you to choose.
  6. The Future — When faced with a decision, in an instant, you will have considered the potential outcomes of many choices. If you want to avoid a specific outcome or effect, you’ll make a choice that you believe will avoid it. If you desire a specific outcome, you’ll make a choice that you think will bring that potential future.
  7. Media — Things read on the Internet, heard on the news or from a friend, or perhaps read in a textbook or magazine can influence your choices. Sometimes what you hear in a song or on the radio can affect you, and the information doesn’t even have to be accurate.
  8. Your Physical Health — When you’re feeling sick, tired, weak, clogged up, dried out, fried out, or inside out, you may not be at your best when making some choices. You could be so focused on how you feel, that you don’t thoroughly consider all your options and instead make the choices that requires the least number of brain cells to make.
  9. Your Mental Health — This includes your general emotional state, overall, but also specific states like depression, anger, etc. If you’re feeling depressed, stressed out, anxious or cloudy-headed, making rational decisions isn’t likely to be your first concern. Things you may normally care about take a back seat until you get past your funk.  If the situation you find yourself in causes familiar and habitual emotions to stir, whether good or bad, your emotional state can directly affect your behavior and the choices you end up making.

You’re constantly being influenced by what goes on in your head and what’s happening around you. Being more aware of how you are influenced can help you think and make decisions more rationally. Consider the effects of your choices by first looking at the causes or influences all around you. Just being more aware of these sources of influence can help you begin to slowly change what you don’t like about your life or begin to mindfully enjoy what you do like about it.


  1. Russell Brown says:

    Thank you for this article! I am a pastor and this is exactly what I was looking for in connection with a sermon I am preparing to preach. This really seems to support my intuitions on this topic (sources of influence), but may I ask the source of these findings? Thanks.

    • Russell, thanks for your comment. I have no specific source for my findings. Aside from being a formal mental health counselor, I have been a student of human nature for years. I observe people and think on these subjects constantly. It’s easy to see how people are being influenced. I’ve also been observing and pondering my own behavior for many years. So I just wrote about my truth.

  2. point 6 should rather be time in general. Timing, past, future and present. I think past can influence your life as much as future can. Or even timing in general. If u have too decide sth very fast your brain thinks much harder and the decission might be different if u ve had more time.

  3. Cari Berlin says:

    I love this! I think music and the arts are definitely one of my biggest influencers. I would also agree with environment/people. Working on overcoming the immediate influences around you is so difficult but such a rewarding moment when you can. Thank you for sharing this!

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