Captive Audience

mowingSince writing about Influence by the Inch, I’ve been watching to see how my habits affect the people around me. It turns out that the person I influence most is…me.

If I drink coffee late in the day, I’m the one counting sheep in the middle of the night. If I waste an evening watching television, I’m the one rushing around the next day catching up on my work.

Most significant is the influence of my inner dialog. While part of my mind is thinking whatever pops into my head, a different part responds to those thoughts with scoldings or pats on the back. For example, when I’m mowing the lawn (not my favorite chore) unhappy memories arise. I berate myself for my past mistakes. But then I start to remember how other people have made mistakes too —mistakes that have hurt me. That’s when I give myself comforting pats on the back. After all, I’m the victim. Don’t I deserve some sympathy? Not surprisingly, my thoughts tend to dwell on other people’s mistakes much more than on my own. [Read more…]

Influence by the Inch

teachingThis past year, I served as an aide for after-school homework help. The lead teacher, Linda, explained that only whispering would be allowed during study time. Nice try, I thought while dutifully nodding. Did she really believe that, after seven hours of classes, the students would surrender their after-school time to further regimentation?

She did believe it! And because she believed it, the students believed too. From the first day onward, Linda kept her own voice to a whisper, and reminded everyone else to do likewise. My hearing isn’t the greatest, and I often wanted to tell the kids to “speak up,” but one glance at Linda’s earnest face convinced me to listen harder instead. [Read more…]