I’ve always been deeply affected by my environment, whether it’s people, places or just the general feeling I get from something, it all pulls the strings on my energy. In the last couple of years, as I’ve started working towards unlocking the deeper side of my feeling and my intuition, I’ve practised shaping the energy around me to make every situation support me. Learning how to change your environment is an essential skill to give you a fighting chance at making every day a great day.
“Sometimes, if you want to see a change for the better, you have to take things into your own hands” – Clint Eastwood
Why does your environment affect you?
Honestly, I could talk forever and ever on this subject, but I’ll try to keep it brief so we can jump into the actionable parts of today’s post. All in all, I think there are 3 main reasons for this.
1. We’re mirrors
Back in our caveman days, we’d learn by copying others. It was the most effective way for our race to survive, we’d make quicker progress and most importantly, not die in more situations. Being accepted by the caveman-crowd was a matter of life and death, so being able to detect a mood and react accordingly kept you on good terms. Not to mention that one of the best ways to get on someone’s good side is to copy them (note: parroting, however, tends to have the opposite effect).
These behaviours stick around today, so when we see someone being angry or excited or feel that a room’s ‘vibe’ is a certain way, we’ll begin to feel the same and act that way. It’s empathy.
2. We’re creatures of habit
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about breaking bad habits is that environment is one of the biggest influences. Our brains are built to do everything with as little effort as possible, so many of the habits we do every day, we do without thinking. This becomes a pretty big obstacle when you’re trying to kick a habit, but change something in your environment up, say, moving your coffee to a different cupboard if you’re trying to lower your caffeine intake, will throw you off autopilot and you’ll be able to make the decision consciously. To break the cycle you need shock therapy.
3. We’re easily influenced
And finally, we’re just easily influenced. Many of us can’t work in loud places. We can’t concentrate when there’s lots going on around us. Warmth, cushions and photographs make us feel more at home. A blank, grey room makes us feel unmotivated. We have these associations built into our brains as we grow up, but we don’t often make the conscious effort to acknowledge them, let alone use them to our advantage.
I’ve often heard people describe needing music that was on their ‘wavelength’ for whatever mood they’re in. This is one of the best examples of how curating your environment can change your insides. Finding a song or artist that makes the outside feel like the inside helps us feel more grounded and can change our mood and focus entirely.
How to change your environment
It’s the famous quote to be repeated time and time again, Jim Rohn, entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker, famously said: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. As we said earlier, it’s human instinct to mirror, so the attitudes, beliefs, and actions of those closest to us have a large effect on what we do and think.
It’s also about support. If you’re surrounded by people who listen, who help out and support you and your ideas, you’re going to be far more likely to act than if the people around you are threatened, negative or unapproving of your choices. It doesn’t mean you have to remove all these people from your life, see if they’re open to change, they might not be aware of how they make you feel. But, if you’ve put in all the effort you can, it’s okay to limit your time spent with anyone or anything that brings you down.
Consider the places you spend most of your time. Your home, your work, the gym, a bar or hangout spot, events, the park where you walk your dog, the train, the bus or your car, and anywhere digital – where do you spend your time online? No place is good or bad, inherently, but it’s worth asking yourself how you feel after you’ve visited those places. Do you feel energised or drained? (note: tired from a challenge is positive, so long as you feel motivated to tackle it again soon)
Place yourself in situations and environments that encourage growth, and surround yourself with things you love! I know I can’t thrive in a messy space. It makes my head feel messy and will constantly distract me from whatever I’m doing. So, I make it a non-negotiable part of my routine to put things away when I’m done with them and regularly do a little tidy up.
For workspaces, in particular, try to shape them to best fit how you work. Maybe you’d benefit from having inspirational things around you, awards, a vision board, photographs of your family. Maybe it needs to be completely clean, free of any distraction besides the one thing you’re working on.
What to do when you can’t change your environment
I’ve spent a long time puzzling on this. Sometimes, it’s just not possible to change certain aspects of our environment, but it’s also true that nothing will stay forever. Maybe you don’t live where you want to right now, but you can do things today that will help you change that later. Maybe you can’t leave a job you hate, but you can start searching or studying for a new one.
Nelson Mandela, whilst imprisoned, famously said: “even when I was locked up, they couldn’t control my mind, that’s where I found my freedom.” Each of us is strong enough to face whatever environment we find ourselves in. I don’t offer these tips as ways to escape an environment, only to twist it to your advantage. My intention with this blog is only to encourage you to make the changes you can to give yourself the healthiest, strongest, and most enjoyable, place to be in right now.
You’re the architect of your world. Love, Ella-Rose xx