The social environment
We all understand how our geographical environment may affect our financial and economic decisions but no one ever really takes time to realize how our social environment may have even a greater impact in shaping our opinions and behaviors and ultimately determining our financial and economic outcomes. As human beings, we are social beings and probably 90% of who we turn out to be is influenced by those around us because we desire social acceptance from them. For example, our culture shapes us into who we are and our beliefs. The closest people in our lives have the most impact on us and how we view the world. Our parents, closest friends, teachers, religious leaders, spouses, among others, have the most influence on us. This then calls us to seriously consider the environments that we spend our time in.
Who are you spending your time with?
Who you are spending your time with is the one making you who you are. No matter how much emphasis we can put on not yielding to peer pressure but it is an undeniable factor that those you spend time with, the environments you spend your time in, unconsciously shapes you into the person you become. You need to pay attention to your environment. Pay attention to whom you are spending a good deal of your time.
Take an example of your behavior at a party, in a bar or a club. Have you ever seen one going there and then changing the environment’s mood to suit them? NO! Once you are in that environment you are bound to behave like the environment places upon you and the same applies to our social environment. Once you are in the company of certain people, you are bound to behave like them. Because we are not the ones who shape our environment but our environment shapes us, all we do is adapt and adjust. Take for example if you spend time with gossipers, even if you may start by being silent but as time goes on you will find yourself joining in the discussions.
As they say, one bad apple spoils the rest, this applies, particularly to people. The people we hang out with shape us, whether we do it consciously or unconsciously. If you spend most of your time in a mediocre environment then you are not bound to aim too higher because you feel so content. We are products of our environment.
Unconsciously our environment provides us with cues that make us behave in a certain way in order for us to survive. Most of our decisions are influenced by what’s around us.
Individual behavior is controlled and influenced by their environment and the people they grow up surrounding themselves with. Their experiences and associations shape how they behave even as they grow up to become adults. For example, if you spend most of your time in an environment where you are criticized all the time, you will not yield to anything much because this builds feelings of failure and negativity within you and it destroys your confidence and self-esteem. On the contrary, if you stay in an environment that encourages you and applauds your little efforts, you are bound to want to do more and do better.
Why is it important to be conscious of your environment?
- If the environment is such a big contributor to how one turns out then this places a duty upon everyone’s shoulder on how we raise our children, the environments that we raise our children in, will they be able to shape them into world contributors tomorrow or it thwarts all their dreams and hopes.
- As we strive to attain some level of success in whatever area we are considering, we should be conscious of the effects that our current environment has on us. Whether it will help us succeed or it will thwart all our hopes of ever succeeding.
Even though we may now understand the impact that our environment has on us, we don’t always have a choice to leave, sometimes we are stuck in those setups, and it’s not easy to walk away. It could be a family or marriage setup that you can’t really walk away from. Below are some of the things that you can do and can help you escape some of the effects that your environment may impose on you.
Things that can help you survive the influence of your environment
- Develop a reading culture. For you to be able to escape your environment, read wide and beyond. You might not be able to be in other environments physically but you can tap into their energy through reading. If you do not work on self-improvement you will always succumb to the opinions of those surrounding you. Even regarding the church, learn to read your own Bible and not wait for your pastor to come read it for you. You need to find out the truth by yourself not to expect it from another human being. Read empowering, inspirational books and stories that make you feel like you can achieve anything because you can actually!
- Visit other places and other environments, meet new people, this will open your mind to new possibilities. How can you be inspired if you do not surround yourself with the things that inspire you?
- Sometimes, the best thing that you can do is have a moment to yourself. With others, we constantly react and so much of our personalities and attitudes are formed from these exchanges. Studies show that we adopt traits from those that we spend the most amount of time with. If you want to figure out who you are more in-depth, make it a habit to spend some time alone every now and again.
- Expand your network. Every week try and find someone you really admire and offer them lunch or a game of chess or anything that can help you bond with that person and over time you will realize that you have actually made a cadre of the right people who will help you grow. Those connections and knowledge gained will pay off your lunch money.
Although sometimes in many a case, our environments offer us a comfort or safety zone but we will not grow in the midst of comfort. For us, to grow we have to move away from familiar environments and explore, spread our wings and fly. In most cases, our environments end up seeming like these gigantic rules set for us and require compliance from us. We seek approval from our environment before we can start doing anything.
You are a sum average of the people you surround yourself with.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is to excuse yourself
If your friends are lazy, unambitious, and live for the weekend parties, you’ll be unlikely to break the mold and achieve success in life. On the contrary, if your friends are successful individuals who pay attention to their health, constantly work on their goals and better themselves, you can’t help but improve with them.
Open a document or pull out a piece of paper and make a list of the five or ten people closest to you. Using a scale of one to ten, with one having an extremely negative and ten having an extremely positive impact on your life, rank these individuals. With whom do you spend the majority of your time? Are they positive and supportive, or do they poke fun at you whenever you tell them about your goals?
No matter how strong-willed you are, constant criticism will affect you. What’s the point of keeping people in your life who don’t want the best for you? Reduce the time spent with them or eliminate them from your social circle.
Get read of people who are draining or avoid them altogether. Do not maintain relationships that give you negative emotions simply because you have known the person for a long time or you grew up together. Time is a scarce resource, time is life, give it to the people who really matter and it will start to matter.
If you were not conscious of this, it’s never too late to start now. New research has challenged our traditional ways of thinking that a child’s mind is shaped whilst young and it stays like that forever. However, the neuroplasticity theory has revealed that the brain is highly reprogrammable at any age. Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to form new neural pathways, interconnections between parts of our nervous system. This happens after injury but also in response to our environment, thoughts, and emotions.
Therefore, you have no excuse! Start paying closer attention to your social environment and surround yourself with positive energy that motivates, inspires and helps you grow.
I would love to hear from you about your own experiences with your social environment, therefore, please write back to me and if you found this useful, kindly share it with someone.
Until next time