Our behaviours and reactive patterns are fortified by deeply embedded neural networks — entrenched mostly during childhood — that engender our conscious thoughts.
That they are so deeply embedded explains why personal change is so difficult. Breaking a behavioural habits requires the same long term effort necessary for a smoker to successfully quit.
Internal thoughts > external talk
Whilst the people around us can make us think differently in a way that makes us feel positive, external influence can only ever by temporary. Only via influencing our habits — i.e. introducing us to something which we then incorporate into our daily life — can they have any influence at all.
Only to the extent that those around you influence your internal behaviours can they have any influence at all.
This is consistent with the essence of positive thinking theory — the constant observation of thought — and the definition of mindfulness as an internalpsychological process.
It’s also inconsistent with the anecdotal evidence of strength from adversity: victims of bullies are often extremely empathetic, failure breeds success, etc…
It is perfectly reasonable of course that conventional wisdom gets it so wrong: the self-help industry is sustained precisely because advice faces no accountability. And neither do inspirational quotes.
But this is good news: we can’t control who we surround ourselves with but we have the opportunity to change our thoughts every day. Paying attention to your internal behaviour instead of those around you is a certain route to achieve any desired change.