How To Stop Negative Influence Dead In Its Tracks


In the regular course of your day you’re bombarded with messages and propaganda from other people. Print media, radio, TV, blogs, movies, friends, acquaintances, the guy on the corner on his soapbox screaming into a megaphone. (Really, how effective is that? Come on guy with the megaphone.)

Someone asked me recently how I keep my eyes on the prize when so many people are trying to influence me with their point of view.

It’s really pretty simple. Although I’m confident in my ways I’m open to other ideas. I don’t shun influence. It can be a good thing. Hell, if it wasn’t for influence I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today. Starting this blog was heavily influenced by Chris, Cody, and Tim.

Positive influence is good. Even when I don’t agree I welcome opinions and ideas from people I respect. And that’s key. Respect.

So the real goal is to keep negative influence out of your life.

Here’s how to do that:

  1. Take a few minutes and write down what you value. What is important to you? Morally and otherwise. Write down what you think and how you feel about controversial and mundane topics alike. It helps to write this stuff down so when you’re confronted on your views you’re clear in what you believe.
  2. When you’re confronted with someone who has opposing or different views, don’t react right away. Ask yourself if it’s coming from a place of love and respect or is it maybe coming from a place of “I don’t care what you think, you’re wrong, it’s my way or no way.”

You might almost think that because of the way I approach certain topics I’m contradicting myself here. Even when it sounds like a “it’s my way or no way” situation it truly is because I want you to feel it when something has positively affected my life. Vegansim, no TV, minimalism, whatever the case may be. It’s impossible to state how important those things are until you’ve attempted them. I only know because I was on the direct opposite side of the issue on all of them at one point in my life. I thought vegans were crazy and I ate meat every day. I thought TV was OK and I literally left mine on for 12 hours/day. I thought owning stuff was important and I owned a lot.

Who has your best interests at heart?

You do. Nobody else ever totally has your best interests at heart. If they say they do, they’re lying. When someone is trying to influence you it’s because they have a foot on the court, a ball in the game. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing, it’s just the truth. Yes, I want to positively influence you. And yes, that benefits me.

The more people who subscribe to my RSS feed, join the Freedom Fighters, or Like my facebook page, the more people I get to interact with who are similar to me. Geographically speaking it’s not easy to find a whole lot of people similar to us. But spread out across the whole world there are many. If you’re part of this movement it benefits you to spread the message because you get to interact with all of these wonderful people. And that’s how we’re growing this massive, positively influential, community.

I don’t talk about numbers here much, but we’re closing in on 7,000 total subscribers and that’s really kick ass.

Thank you for doing what you do, being who you are, and spreading the message far and wide.


My friend Tyler has a course coming out tomorrow called Guerrilla Influence Formula all about how to use your influence as a force for good. It’s a really solid course and comes with a 1,000 subscriber guarantee. (In other words, if you follow what Tyler writes about you’ll gain at least 1,000 subscribers to your website/blog/cause or you get your money back.)

Side note: Tyler interviewed me for the course.

Bonus side note: buy through this link, forward me your receipt (and your mailing address), and I’ll mail you a copy of my favorite business book (#1 on my list) that is perfectly complementary to Tyler’s course. That book, of course, is Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr Robert Cialdini. (I’ll ship to anywhere in the US or Canada. Live somewhere else? Get in touch and I’ll figure something else out for you.)


  1. Great post! I must admit my wife is better at this than I am (read: better at doing whatever she wants and not listening to anyone who tries to put her ideas down) – but I’m learning ;)

    p.s. Would you believe I used to be the guy with the megaphone? hahaha….

  2. Perry Marshall wrote one of my favorite articles on this subject of the negativity that comes at us:

    I will say, though, that stating “Nobody else ever totally has your best interests at heart,” sounds a bit cynical. Maybe this is just semantics, but you can keep that in mind and stay positive and open to others or you can hold on to that thought and steadily block others out of your heart.

    Respect is the key, for sure.

    • Awesome, thanks for the link Matt.

      It doesn’t come from a place of cynicism. It’s simply truth. Any time you’re trying to influence someone it’s because, in some way, you have something to benefit from that. That doesn’t mean that they won’t benefit from it either, of course. :)

  3. 2 ways I stop negative influence in my life.

    #1. I Consciously Choose Who To Be Influenced By

    I seek out individuals I respect, admire and at the end of the day are smart people. Many of these people I don’t have all of the same views as, but as you said Karol, I respect they’re point of view and because of this I am always open to what they have to say (whether or not it’s in alignment with my existing paradigms). I make sure my sphere of influence is diversified, from different realms and overall much different people – in order to get different points of view. I think a lot of people blindly allow anyone to influence them and don’t take time to consciously decide who it is they are surrounding themselves with.

    #2. Make Sure Whoever I am Influenced By Is Speaking From First Hand Experience.

    At the end of the day, first hand experience trumps ANY knowledge you acquire. I make sure sometime in the conversation, whoever I’m speaking to says the statement “In my experience…” If not, I’ll typically won’t listen.

    Normally what we think and feel will be completely different how things are when you actually experience something. Take being a digital nomad, many people think it doesn’t work, it’s a scam, it’s immature, etc. Yet when you talk to people actually living this lifestyle, they’ll have a completely different take – all because they are speaking from first hand experience.

    • Thank you Tony. You make a great point. There are a lot of people (some with large audiences) who don’t speak from first hand experience. This includes bloggers. It’s important to seek out those who are actually living what they’re writing.

  4. I agree, Matt. That can easily be misused. It isn’t good to swing to either extreme.

    How do you maintain a healthy balance between skepticism and expecting good from other people?

    • I expect good and trust everybody. At some point if they give me a reason to feel otherwise then I’ll feel otherwise. It’s important to give people a chance before judging what they’re up to. :)

  5. The question of whether or not humans can truly be altruistic is one which philosphers have wrestled with for thousands of years. If it can be settled at all, it won’t be here :-)

    Personally, I believe we CAN act truly selflessly– as in cases where a total stranger gives his/her life in place of another stranger. Surely the reward of a second’s worth of egositic pleasure in one’s sacrifice can’t be the motivation.

    That being said, I think Karol is correct if his statement is taken with the implicit understanding that the majority of the time people act from a place that is NOT totally selfless. And he did qualify that his statement was not meant as a negative thing, i.e. even people who love us offer us good advice because they want what’s best for us and, as an aside, it makes them feel good to help us.


    • Thanks Frank. It’s an interesting point, although I’ve never heard of a stranger giving their life for another stranger. :)

      I mentioned in a comment above that I don’t mean this in a “don’t trust anybody” way. Trust everybody. If someone gives you a reason not to trust them don’t don’t trust them. We need to remain open to new ideas and experiences.

      • Hey Karol~

        There are plenty of cases where strangers have died for others strangers. One might easily argue firefighters who die saving people from burning buildings do it all the time, though some might argue the firefighters figure they will be able to get out themselves. Fair enough. But they can’t know they will escape and they go in anyway. Usually, they make it. Sometimes, they don’t. I’d say that is pure altruism–either way.

        I think it would also be fair to argue people who sheltered Jews in Nazi Germany when they knew discovery of the act would mean their own execution count, too.

        There are plenty of other examples, but you get the point..

        And I do understand you trust people.

        I’ve recently discovered your blog and I love it. You are a good person–that much is very clear to me.


  6. This is so true ! We are what we think, eat and who we surround ourselves with. We make choices each and every minute of each and every day that shape and create our realities. Allowing others to influence us either positively or negatively is a choice. Let’s choose life, vibrancy, evolution and change !

  7. To everyone who hasn’t read “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”: it’s one of the most awesome books ever written, and it’s literally packed to the top with goodness.

    I remember having to stop several times for a couple of days while reading, because everything just didn’t have the time to sink in.

    • Yeah, it’s definitely one of the few books I’ve ever owned that I needed to read more than once. I also owned the CD set (ripped to MP3 and gave it away) with Dr Cialdini discussing the main points of the book.

  8. When people I know question my decision to quit my job to pursue a online career and a minimalist lifestyle, I find myself able to confidently defend what I am doing to them. I struggle much more with my own doubts and negativity.

    At 55 years old, I find myself to be older than most who are writing about this lifestyle. I have over 30 years of living the corporate life to put behind me. I’m just starting on this journey and have earned $18 online so far. I support myself now by doing independent contractor work as a retail merchandiser, but money is getting tight. Everyday, I face the temptation to send my resume out and jump back into the retail management rat race. I fear that if I do, I will get caught up in it again and never break free.

    Do you have some resources that I and maybe other readers who are struggling with their own doubts can turn to for help?

    Thanks for what you do!

    • Hey Rich, everybody struggles with doubts. Anybody who says they don’t isn’t being honest with themselves. Which is OK, because that’s how some of us function. I’ve actually written an unposted article about “lying to yourself” when you want to make great change happen and are struggling with it. Nothing anybody can say or do will help you as much as you can help yourself. That all said, $18 is a good start. Many people don’t get that far. Whatever you did to earn that $18, repeat it.

  9. To get rid of a ton of negativity in my life I quit the “News” about 9 years ago. My mental health dramatically improved because I was no longer being bombarded with mayhem, death and disaster. And the “you can’t stay informed” argument that people would trot out hasn’t kept me from staying on top of things most important in my life and in the lives of those I care about.

    • Wow! You were an early adopter. The “you can’t stay informed” argument is very similar to “I actually learn stuff by watching Dexter” argument. :)

  10. “When you’re confronted with someone who has opposing or different views, don’t react right away. Ask yourself if it’s coming from a place of love and respect or is it maybe coming from a place of “I don’t care what you think, you’re wrong, it’s my way or no way.”

    Yes. There’s the difference between constructive disagreement and argument.

    As I’ve continued to read thru your work, I’ve occasionally found stuff that I profoundly disagree with…but because I’ve come to respect you, I always learn something valuable from what you have to say, and I look forward to each new post.

    Love and respect are so important…my sister and I profoundly disagree on some big issues and philosophies, yet we can discuss them without arguing because we love each other and respect each other’s right to believe what we believe. This has strengthened both of us immensely.

    Thanks again, Karol, for giving us good stuff to ponder :)

  11. Should I say “Stay Focus” in this topic you wrote Karol ?
    Lots of people are easily shaking with their own opinions when people comment or critic about it.
    So perhaps stay focus help. :D

  12. Hey Karol,

    It’s just amazing how you can get all those words out of my head. And I find it amazing your capacity of argumentation on all these issues you’re talking about, which is the most difficult part of it: to pass your/such message to everyone! Congrats for your initiative and being able to start something with your own hands! ;)

    And I don’t know if you agree, but I think everyone should see just 2 movies: “Into The Wild” and “HOME”…one for the individual aspect and the other in a group perspective. Wonder if you saw those, and what’s your opinion about them…

    Cheers mate, “abracos” from Portugal!

    • Thanks Spoosy! I have not seen Home, I have seen Into The Wild. It was enjoyable, but I don’t remember being strongly affected by it. I do remember the King of the Road song … I love that song so it was the only thing that really caught me about the movie.

  13. […] How To Stop Negative Influence Dead In It's Tracks Who has your best interests at heart? You do. Nobody else ever totally has your best interests at heart. If they say they do, they’re lying. When someone is trying to influence you it’s because they have a foot on the court, a ball in the game. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing, it’s just the truth. Yes, I want to positively influence you. And yes, that benefits me. See you soon! This entry was posted on 17/12/2010 (Friday) at 8:00 am and is filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. Printed from: . © Jen Smith 2010. […]

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