These are two main factors that shape the development of our personalities.
The first is our nafs – our genetic characteristics. We were all created with our unique inborn characteristics, impulses, strengths and weaknesses. These natural desires determine our likes, dislikes, a large part of our disposition and our inbuilt strengths and weaknesses. These genetic imprints are known in Arabic as our jibillah. Similar to physical characteristics we inherited, such qualities are ingrained in us.
The second is our external influence. We are a sum of all our experiences and are constantly exposed to situations and circumstances that leave imprints on our dispositions. These include the books we read, the friends we mix with, events that we experienced, as well as our experiences, sensations and ideas.
We are the gatekeepers of our own souls, and we should constantly be vigilant of the ones we permit into the private and vulnerable spheres of our minds and hearts.
If we are sincere, we should seek the company of those who will help us achieve salvation in this life and in the hereafter.
And likewise, are our hearts, minds and behavior taking others along the right road? Are we sure that we are projecting, giving and showing the correct kind of influence?