Your environment will shape your life! Does your environment support you or create stress? Do you feel authentic in your environment? Do you feel like an imposter? Did you choose your environment? Do you have any control over your environment? Why are vacations impactful or feel noticeably different? Have you normalized a bad environment? These are all great questions and if you haven’t spent any time pondering the answers I suggest you do!
There is a saying that, "you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with", (Jim Rohn) and to a certain extent I believe that because we are talking about your environment. This question is tough when we think about it through the lens of growing up and psychological development because we have no say in who our parents are, or what environment they are bringing us into, or whether they have any skills or knowledge about raising us. To further complicate matters, we learn a lot subconsciously from our early caregivers based on the environments they chose and their actions. These influences often show up in the choices we make as we age. Let’s assume for a moment that 80% of the decisions we make are directly shaped by our childhood, good or bad. Have you spent any time looking back at those environments to understand how they shaped you? This is not about blaming parents, even the bad ones, but about understanding that whether we like it or not we are a product of those experiences. How many relationships or jobs have you ruined or come up short because you were repeating behaviors seen as a child? What if the people you associate with as an adult are the result of running away from, or towards environments that are familiar to you based on growing up; even when they’re counterproductive as an adult? To complicate it, we may be moving in a direction that is bad for us but familiar, and familiar can be comfortable. It’s amazing how well we can get comfortable in things that are bad for us because they are familiar or feel safe, and in order to improve a situation we must do uncomfortable things that make us feel unsafe, to “hopefully” get to a better place. The real challenge there is that oftentimes we are asking our cognition to override our emotions, which may have been subconsciously shaped by the environment we were raised in.
Oftentimes when we as adults strive to improve our lives we make decisions “above the shoulders” (using our brains) that seem to be the right decision but leave us feeling very vulnerable and isolated. This manifests in environments we want to be in, or a part of but yet we feel like an imposter. The term imposter syndrome is real and can best be explained when internal and external validation don’t align. Some will describe this as if they’re hiding in plain sight.
Matching our internal state with the external environment is extremely important because when we don’t, the dissonance can become overwhelming. The adage ‘fake it till you make it’ really doesn’t resonate with me. Being authentic about being new or nervous to try something for the first time is a much more healthy and aligned way to live. Yes, some people win by faking it but the price or weight of faking it can be costly. Yes, being a rookie going into something you know nothing about is scary but at least then the only battles you have to face are the external ones and not internal ones of always pretending.
As many of my posts often come back to, awareness is key but only serves as a moral victory if you don’t do anything with it. Spend the time looking at your environment, the people you spend the most time with, what frustrations/failures keep showing up personally or professionally, and see what patterns start to arise. Do you pick people and environments that keep you safe and comfortable in the short term, at the expense of living your best life, or do you get uncomfortable in the short term and choose environments and people that support your best?