There is a difference between being influenced by outside forces, and getting assistance from them.

For some people this is not an easy distinction to make, but it’s a very important one.

We are constantly surrounded by outside influences.  Most of the social media sites are a part of this.  They are striving for our attention, they want us to do and think and feel certain ways, which may or may not be compatible with what we REALLY want to do and think and feel.

Many people seek, some intentionally, some not, to persuade you to fall under their influence.  Some of this is malicious, some not so much.  People want you to feel a certain way about this topic or that, they want you to act upon something or other, they want you to think just like they think, so that they may furnish you with an opinion.  They want to influence you to buy their product, vote for their candidate, worship their deity, give up your rights because you don’t know better, or take away another’s rights because you should be afraid of them.

On the other side of that coin, though, are people offering or providing assistance.  They may also seek to influence you, but never without your consent.  They will ask you if they can provide you with help or show you a thing or what-have-you.  They are less about giving you their opinion and way and more about helping you find your own opinion and way.

How can you tell the difference between being influenced and assisted?  Generally influence is unsolicited.  They are pushing their beliefs and opinions on you, they are taking actions to sway you that might feel coercive or pushy or otherwise not really wanted.  Assistance is usually solicited, but not always.  Someone assisting you is helping you to work out your own beliefs, form your own opinions to take action.  If they opine for you or tell you what they believe, it is not in a manner to persuade you to do the same, but more as an example for you to work from.

Assistance feels helpful.  It provides answers to questions and solutions to problems that resonate with your core beliefs and feelings and thoughts.  Receiving assistance is a positive experience, helping you to move forward and learn and grow.

Further, almost nobody seeks influence.  Of course there are people out there who would much rather not make any decisions for themselves, and so they want to be influenced by others.  They want to be told how they should think and feel.  But most of us don’t like when other people tell us how to behave.

That’s what a lot of this boils down to.  The influencers want a specific way of behavior, and for whatever reason take umbrage with the massive individuality of people.  We all have unique backgrounds, we all think in our own way, and we all have separate hopes and dreams and aspirations for our lives.  Some people find all this diversity overwhelming and intimidating.

I never try to influence anyone to walk anyone’s path but their own.  Pathwalking, as I practice is, is NOT for everyone.  How I Pathwalk versus how you Pathwalk is going to differ, because we come from different places and are on different paths.  Even if, like me, you are a writer trying to get to the next level and empower people to be inspired, you are not going about it exactly the same way that I am.

I seek out assistance from time to time.  There are people who know things I do not.  There are always new books to read or listen to that will give me new insights, new ideas and new ways to find the life I want for myself.  Opinions and ideas are changeable, so every new piece of information can take me to all kinds of different places.

Some may not recognize the difference between influence and assistance.  If you are trying to force your opinion or ideas onto others, you are working as an influencer.

I have been teaching fencing for twenty years.  I can teach any single person two to four different means to an end.  I offer to assist by showing them what I think may be best for them, but I always make it clear that my way is NOT the One True Way, and that another may show them something else down the line that works even better for them.

It is slightly less easy to recognize unasked for assistance from influence, but language is a big cue.  If someone says, “May I offer a suggestion?” or “Have you considered” or “I know it’s none of my business, but did you view if from this angle?” they are trying to assist.  If someone says, “Let me tell you how this is done,” or “You’re wrong, let me tell you how it is (vs let me explain WHY you are wrong,” or “I know it’s none of my business, but you should know this is how it is,” likely they are working at influencing.

Assistance is often needed and wanted.  We get stuck on a problem or reach a crossroads we cannot traverse without help.  Sometimes, we don’t seek it, but it finds us anyhow.  Somebody makes a suggestion or offers an idea or shows us something that opens new channels and provides us with new directions.

Assistance is a positive force for change.  Influence is a negative force for control.  Be conscious of how you feel when you are faced with influence or assistance, so that you know which you are receiving.

Do you prefer to be asked, or told?


GOAL LOG – Week 49:

Diet:  Holiday season is tricky, but working on it.

Exercise: Two days of fencing, one at the gym.

Writing:  The three blogs got written, and I worked on my sci-fi novel on one day.

Meditation:  I meditated one day last week, about 6 minutes.

Gratitude: I wrote five things I was grateful for six days last week.


This is the two-hundred fifty-ninth entry in my series. These weekly posts are ideas and my personal experiences in walking along the path of life.  I share this journey as part of my desire to make a difference in this world along the way.

Thank you for joining me.  Feel free to re-blog and share.

The first year of Pathwalking, including some expanded ideas, is available here.

If you enjoy Pathwalking, you may also want to read my Five Easy Steps to Change the World for the Better.