I spend a lot of time talking about self development on the blog. It’s important to improve the things you can control. I’d be remised to not talk about the other part of the equation. Sometimes a person can do all that they can to be their best selves, but it’s hard to realize potential when the environment doesn’t allow for it. We’ve all heard the saying that we are a product of our environment. It’s so true. I’m not the same person since moving from my hometown, and I’m no the same person since leaving my longest tenured job. A part of growth is moving to different environments so that different aspects of your personality can shine.
When it comes to finding our potential, we need an environment that allows us to be highest self. Sometimes the environment can do what the person cannot. A person with low self esteem can walk into an environment filled with love and encouragement. From there, you can see the evolution. The same thing can be said about a bad environment. A person with so much potential can move into a bad situation and be corrupted by the environment. Ideally we would love our jobs, our friends, and our society at large to encourage seeing us as individuals with individual needs, but if that were the case, there would be no need for this blog. People can be placed in bad situations and feel helpless because there’s no one to guide them on their path.
The Good and the Bad
I’m sure we’ve all been in both situations at different degrees. Maybe some of you haven’t. It’s hard to objectively look at an environment and see if it’s good or bad for a person. I was raised in a pretty poor city called Pomona. I went to high school on the street where I regularly saw homelessness and prostitution. The high school was a safe haven. A place where my teachers encouraged me to do well, and my friends wanted the best for each other. It was hard to get caught up in what was going on in the streets because I was too busy with after school activities at school. It was that environment that helped be become a success and get me into college, when the alternative could have been much worse.
Maybe you’ve been in a toxic relationship. Even one person who consistently abuses you, constantly lies, and constantly doesn’t show love can bring a person down. You start to feel like you’re not good enough. You’re not worthy. The only thing you can do is prove your worthiness towards that person. It never works. It just leads to hurt, anxiety, and depression. There’s a certain type of weight that lifts off your shoulders, and a peace that fills the air, when you leave that situation.
Why is Environment So Important?
The reason why environment is so important is because it influences decisions. Sometimes consciously, most times unconsciously. If want to live a certain way, it could be hard just because of what is around us. In my journey to be unapologetically me, it’s hard to show authenticity in a world that punishes it. It’s hard for me to speak up when the world would rather see someone like me not have an opinion. On a very macro level, there are systems in place for everyone else to have an opinion of you and for you to shut down any characteristic that is different from one’s made up mind about you. Think I’m lying? Try to be different. It’s very hard. Since we can’t really change society as a whole, we can change the environment around us.
Cultivating Your Environment
When it comes to cultivating a favorable environment there are key categories to look into: your personal relationships, family life, office and company culture, and religious/belief system. These are environments you have influence over. Environments like our political system, economic system, or financial markets are pretty hard to change unless you pick up everything and move. Family life is also an environment that’s hard to change. We are not afforded choice in which family we are born into. We all can’t be Kardashians (I’d probably pass on that myself). The spouse that you choose later in life can create some change.
This is why should definitely focus on the things that we can control. The best part of personal development. I actually think this is where the intersection of your personal power and environment meet. When we cultivate our talents and love for ourselves, we find ways in which our environment can have a positive impact on us. Once we realize that we have the power to create our own environment, the more freedom we begin the wield.
Know Your Needs
We need an environment that aligns with who we are and where we want to go. You know that the environment is not right for you when it influences you to things that you don’t want to do. When you go to work anxious because you know your responsibilities go against your values. When you step into a place and it just doesn’t feel right, it might be time to make a change, or adjust.
I say change or adjust because sometimes we are in predicaments where we can’t change our environment. All we can do is try to make the best of it. It’s all about the level of control that you have over your situation. It’s hard to leave a job when you need the money to survive. At least that’s what we’re told. It’s very easy to leave that boyfriend though. When looking to make improvements into your environment remember the serenity prayer in accepting the things that you cannot change, the courage to change the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference. If you need a change of scenery, let’s not let fear be the thing that holds you back.