How to Protect Yourself from Negative Influences

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What are some negative influences in life? How do you protect yourself from bad influences?

Negative opinions, thoughts, or attitudes that come from outside or within will have a bad influence on you. You can protect yourself from negative influences by closing your mind against anyone or anything that discourages you and focusing your mind on your goals.

Read more about the major negative influences in life and how to protect yourself from them.

The Effect of Negative Influences

In addition to the six basic fears, there’s another destructive force in our lives: susceptibility to negative influences. These are negative opinions, thoughts, or attitudes that work their way into our minds, often without our realizing it. They can come from outside or from within. They come in many different forms, including the well-meant words of close relatives. They cause us to fail at reaching our goal if we allow them to take root.

Leaving your mind open to the negative influence of other people is a common human weakness. Many people don’t recognize it when this influence is operating. Others who acknowledge it fail to correct it, and it becomes part of their daily thought patterns.

Successful people have learned to guard against negative influences. They keep their mind pure and focused on their goal. If you desire riches, you need to search out and eliminate the negative influences in your life and block new ones that can derail you from reaching your goal.

To identify negative influences in your life, closely examine the outside influences affecting you, as well as your own negative behaviors and traits. Questions like these can get you started. If you have strong reactions to any of these, you have likely found a negative influence that is stifling you and is therefore worth removing.

Outside Influences

  • Who do you associate with and why? How do they make you feel?
  • Do you like or dislike your job?
  • How do others react to you?
  • What kind of people do you attract?
  • Are you easily influenced by others, against your own judgment?
  • Are there people you avoid? Why?
  • Who are the most encouraging and discouraging people in your life?
  • What/who annoys you the most?
  • Does anyone nag you? If so, why?
  • Who inspires you the most and why?
  • Are you allowing someone (a relative or acquaintance) to worry you?
  • Do you regularly encourage other people tell you their problems?

Internal Behaviors and Traits

  • Does life seem hopeless?
  • Do you complain a lot or feel sorry yourself?
  • Do you have a lot of health complaints?
  • Do you envy others?
  • Do you frequently criticize others?
  • How do you react to things?
  • Do you take care of yourself?
  • How do you handle mistakes?
  • Are you fearful?
  • Do you self-medicate with alcohol or something similar?
  • Do you have a strong goal and a plan to reach it?
  • Do you take responsibility for your circumstances?
  • What are you biggest weaknesses and what are you doing to eliminate them?
  • What is your biggest worry? Why do you put up with it?

Here’s how to protect yourself: 

  • Realize that you have willpower and use it to build a wall of immunity against negative influences.
  • Close your mind against anyone who discourages or depresses you.
  • Make a point of associating with people who encourage you to think and act for yourself. 

Don’t “ask for” trouble — thinking about it can make it happen.

How to Protect Yourself from Negative Influences

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Joseph Adebisi

Joseph has had a lifelong obsession with reading and acquiring new knowledge. He reads and writes for a living, and reads some more when he is supposedly taking a break from work. The first literature he read as a kid were Shakespeare's plays. Not surprisingly, he barely understood any of it. His favorite fiction authors are Tom Clancy, Ted Bell, and John Grisham. His preferred non-fiction genres are history, philosophy, business & economics, and instructional guides.

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