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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SBU chapter.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the influence we have on others and vise versa. Specifically, the power of social influence and its effect on people’s opinions and behaviors. When I’m around individuals for an extended period of time, I notice myself repeating some of their lingoes, and my actions sometimes reflect their behaviors. I then began to think of the other concealed characteristics I carry from other individuals. It might seem odd to admit, but we all watch people closely. We watch reactions in many ways, and those reactions shape how we act next. I also believe the level of influence depends on certain personality traits. Personally, I’m very independent, but this doesn’t mean I don’t adopt new tendencies.

Influence isn’t bad, but you need to remember to think solely for yourself. We have to remember to allow our thoughts, feelings and personalities to emerge. Though it can be hard because humans are naturally people pleasers. We all crave control over our own lives but have to keep in mind that none of us have absolute control over everything, including others. That is the default which applies to small and big examples in life. I guess we can only control whether our influence is good or bad. So, we have to learn to be more mindful of the characteristics and mannerisms we portray and the characteristics and mannerisms we consume. At a younger age this is hard to master. Growing up you’re told what to do by older individuals, and you usually listen, but as you get older there is room to challenge why these individuals have such a great influence over you. Then before you know it the age of influence approaches you.

For example, it’s like when someone tells you something or does something that sticks with you for months or years, and then, when you bring it up they don’t remember saying or doing such. That is one way to look at the power of influence. The way your brain repeats a certain phrase or replays a memory in your head enforces this belief. Unconsciously, you act on it. We all do this, though, it’s weird to break down and admit. More broadly, look at the people in your social circle. Most likely, you match their behaviors. I know I do. This is called the chameleon effect, which has a positive impact on human social interactions, but I think, we have to be aware of the negative social consequences too. This effect can definitely make you more sociable, even more likable, but it’s ok not to feel the need to fit into conformity. You also don’t have the power to control how people interpret your influence, which is also kind of scary. It’s up to specific interpretation.

As I get older I become more aware of who I surround myself with. Are they influencing me poorly? Are they benefiting my spirit? Or are they draining my spirit? Do I influence this person poorly? Do I benefit or drain his/her spirit? It’s never a bad idea to reflect on who you let into your life. This requires being aware of who you are, what your goals are and the person you want to become. Recognize your own decisions and decisions that may be swayed by others. Keep in the back of your mind that people shape the person you become, and their invisible influence is very much present (as yours is too). Mindfulness is a superpower.

Hi, my name is Marnique, and I'm a senior journalism major at St. Bonaventure University. I love to read and write!