Are you a product of your environment?

When you look at the people in your life, friends, family, work colleagues, and acquaintances – how many of them make you happy? How many of them make you want to scream when you see their Facebook statuses, or when they open their mouth and all that comes out is something negative and judgemental?

Whether we like it or not, we are all products of our environment. The things that are around us create the person we are. When your environment is negative, you are constantly fighting yourself not to become like the rest of them. You are trying to remain positive, bubbly and the person you truly know you are.  It has nothing to do with being another sheep following the heard when you do give up and slip into the negativity. It has more to do with the constant monotony thrown at you, like waves crashing against rocks, and making them sand.

Have you ever been in a situation where your personality has changed because of who you are around? Whether it be with a boyfriend you once had, a workplace you have left, the girls from school or your family? There are many different scenarios where the environment surrounding you does not bring out the best in you. Most of the time, you won’t be aware of the changes in your personality because you are so immersed in your surroundings. It is usually someone who has known you for a long time, who will ask if you are okay? Or tell you that ‘you’ve changed’.

Let’s talk through a few of these scenarios.

The boyfriend/girlfriend: Ever changed yourself to be the perfect person for your new partner? The music you listen to, your hair colour, the car you drive, or the way you speak?  I have heard many break up stories, about people finally realising they had become someone completely different in that relationship. They no longer knew or trusted the person they had become. It is a wakeup call that came a few months/years down the track.

I believe in these scenarios, people get into these relationships out of desperation, boredom, revenge (especially in teenage years at friends/family), laziness, or a feeling of being lost. When you are not in the right frame of mind, surrounded by an environment in which you thrive in, it is easier for you to fall into one of these life-changing-for-the-worse relationships. Don’t get me wrong, you can learn very valuable lessons from these circumstances, BUT only if your eyes are open, and you have the willingness to learn them.

The Workplace: Every workplace has its politics and bitching gossipers, but what about when the environment is so bad it changes 1 in 2 people into unmotivated, Monday hating humans who don’t want to get out of bed and go to work, and when they get to work, all they do is complain about how bad it is? There are many workplaces out there like this, some ALOT worse than others, and its the easiest place to get dragged down in, because you spend 40 hours of your week there, surrounded by these people. It is the biggest fight of them all.

Easiest solution for this is to leave. Find a workplace that lets you thrive and flourish in it, that supports each other, and growth. Yeah, there might be a bit of politics and gossiping, but that’s humans for you.

But what about if you cannot leave? You’ve just bought a house, you’ve just had kids, you have too much debt, it won’t be good for your resume etc… (there are a thousand excuses as to why people think they can’t leave and change their workplace environments).

The answer is if you can’t leave in the short term, make a mid-term plan. To me short term, is from immediately – 3 months, mid-term is 3 months – a year, and long term is anything after that.

Why not make a long term plan – because if you stay in a negative environment for too long, it will eventually destroy you, and become harder to claw back to your original headspace.

So how do you work-out a mid-term plan? Figure out the reasons you can’t leave immediately (ill remain to call them excuses) and work out a step by step guide to get you into a new job with a better environment.

If its money, which majority of the time it is, get ahead with your mortgage repayments, save some money for bills so you feel secure, and then look for another role. Really you only need to be ahead 3 months in your mortgage repayments, have enough savings to cover your expenses for this time period, and you are ready to get yourself a better workplace.

Friends: We all have them. Ones we love and adore, ones we dislike but can’t remove from our lives, and others who drain us of all happiness by bringing you down, but we have a flicker of hope for.

What about those friends you know who change around different groups of people?  I use this example as it is hard for you to see yourself change around others (which I bet that you do). How I met your mother did an episode on this when Lily used to change around a certain girl from school. She would turn into a hip swinging, black ‘gurrl’ whose language changed and music love became hip-hop. As soon as the two were separated, the changed back to themselves. This was a good example of becoming a product of your environment. If you have friends from school, who you dread catching up with because its a big competition about who has the better partner, house, children, job… then you really need to ask yourself why you keep putting yourself through it?  Just because you have a history, doesn’t mean you cant make the friendship history… if you get me J

Friends are the people you get to choose to be in your life. Why not choose wisely? Choose people who love you, who motivate you and want to see you do well. They will not bring you down, or try to compete with you. They are accepting of your flaws, they trust you as you trust them, and you both make each other happy. Its actually really simple. For some reason, us humans tend to hold onto the past, to the history because we think we have to. The answer is, you don’t have to do anything. It’s up to you to choose.

Family: The people you cannot really choose. These are the people that have been around you since birth. These people have the biggest influence on you and the person you become growing up. Which is why, this can be some of the hardest challenges facing you when it comes to creating your perfect environment.

No family is perfect. They all have some difficulties, and a range of different personalities and expectations. The most important thing for a family to do is communicate. You cannot work through issues and expectations if no one knows what the expectations are because no one has spoken about them.

Spend as much or as little time as you need to with family. Sometimes the amount of time will change depending on what is happening, but at the end of it, remember that family is family, and you must work with what you have, as they are all that is left at the end of it all.

So when I talk about becoming a product of your environment, I don’t always mean a negative one. In a positive environment, you can become something you never thought you could (most likely because of the negative environment you were in), and you will be the best person you possibly can be. You will be happy, most of the time; you will change your view on life, and look for the positive side to events.

You will control the outcome of events around you, rather than being controlled by them.

Life is what you make it, and no matter the reasons or excuses, there is always a way to make it better.

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