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Don’t let the environment dictate what you do, who you are, or who you will become. At any given time, we can all get sucked into the vortex of a fast-paced world, without embedding anything or developing as individuals. Even more so, we can be so conditioned by our environment that we are not even aware of it until someone nudges us with a wake-up call.

Albert Einstein tells us that “the environment is everything that isn’t me”. With this approach in mind, why are we so conditioned by our environment? Personally, what I have learned over the years is this: you can invest all the time, energy, and care in the world in an individual. However, if they are not in the right environment, meaning one that is supportive, nurturing and aligned with them and their values, well… you can say good-bye to all of your efforts.

Environment plays a huge part in how we show up and what we become. For example, let’s say you are working in an environment where there has been constant change. You, on the other hand, are the type of person who values order, consistency and stability. As a result, you will automatically behave in a way that is conforming to the environment because you are driven by ‘fear’. The same goes for dynamic individuals stuck in a static environment.

In the end, either way, how you show up may not be the way that you want to be seen.

Environmental influences may promote or impair

We all know from our primitive brain that all human beings have a strong need for ‘safety’ and ‘security’. Also, we know that we tend to seek some sort of physical comfort in any environment. In addition to that, we search for an environment that is psychologically comfortable, an environment that feels familiar… one that offers the right amount of stimulus.

Therefore, environment can facilitate or discourage interactions amongst individuals, also affecting how they show up. Any given environment has the power to influence certain behaviours and, consequently, outcomes. Your aim is to have an environment that is at a steady pace, an environment than can influence peoples’ behaviours in a positive way.

A stressful environment can create stress and have a massive impact on your health. This is because your brain and your endocrine and immune systems are constantly interacting. You see, what you are thinking at any given moment is changing your biochemistry.

A healthy environment is one that drives motivation from ‘love’, not ‘fear’.

Commit to change

The following quote from Alexander De Heijer really got me thinking – “When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower”. Heck… how do you change a BIG environment?

First of all, we need to be able to describe our environment. How would I best describe my environment at home and at work? Nurturing and supportive, or stressful and overwhelming? After a few moments of thinking about these questions, I could clearly see a tremendous gap that could use some attention.

I was thinking that changing our environment – one that is greater than who we are – can’t be possible. Nevertheless, how much time and energy are we willing to commit to this? Right then and there, I realised that transforming our environment is possible – the secret lies in ‘how’ we decide to shift it!

It’s all up to us, 100%.

The key here is to think ‘greater’ than your environment. If you want to change, you must have an idealised self in your thoughts; one that you can model, one that you can emulate, one that is different from and better than the ‘you’ that exists today in your current environment.

When you are in a supportive environment, one where you are accomplishing your goals and where you feel on purpose with all that you do, you will be driven by limitless determination. Nothing will be able to get in your way – you become unstoppable.

Show up in every single moment

Whatever you are surrounded by all day influences you more than you think. If you make sure that your environment supports your dreams, achieving them becomes radically easier.

So… guard your time fiercely, be generous with it, but be intentional in your environment one day at a time. Be more conscious about how you show up. You need to slow down to speed up, so take some time out to reflect. Otherwise, you are being triggered and conditioned by your environment, and therefore show up frazzled because you have lost your way.

If you want to foster an environment that nurtures and supports you, one that brings out the best in you, then you are going to need to make some choices about your surroundings. The only way to do this is by giving you the time to reflect on the areas that you want to redesign so to fit in the environment.

The first thing that you need to focus on is your thoughts. What are you thinking about your environment? What are you feeling about your current environment and how are you showing up? What are those underlying drivers that make you do the things that you do?

Givers need to set limits because takers rarely do

Setting boundaries is a way of respecting and caring for oneself. It doesn’t mean you are being selfish. Quite the opposite – you are being self-full. Learning how to set and maintain healthy personal boundaries can go a long way towards easing the stress of even the most challenging circumstances and relationships.

For instance, a critical step in establishing healthy boundaries and becoming satisfied with your environment is to realise that “No.” is a complete sentence. Are you trying to please others so not to rock the boat, but are compromising your values? Are you losing those moments with your family that you can never get back with time, the things that are of greater importance to you and your life?

A people-pleaser will always go above and beyond to make everyone around them happy, even if it means going against what is healthy for them. Essentially, you have to say “no” without feeling guilty, in order to obtain the best long-term outcomes for everyone involved. If you are anything like me, get someone to support you in learning how to say “no” on your behalf.

Self-care leads to greatness

Setting time aside for self-care is key to becoming greater than your environment. Only then will you be able to identify what your drivers are and discover if you are being motivated by fear and limiting beliefs of oneself instead of love and support.

Ultimately, you are the only one who can decide if your environment is worth the stress. Do you want to step back and focus on ‘you’ to be the influence of change within your environment and surrounding individuals? Are you going to start setting some serious boundaries for yourself and maybe cut some individuals out of your environment that may be adding to the stress?

It is possible to change your environment – you just have to be ‘greater’ than it.