If You Don't Control Your Environment, Your Environment Will Control You

At Xandara, we believe that environment is one of the three core pillars of wellth. We wonder, though: why isn’t anyone else talking about this?!? It’s all “willpower this and willpower that.” And, you know what we think about willpower...that it is basically a farce.

In addiction circles, managing your environment is considered old hat. Control your environment, control your addiction. In fact, in one of the most shocking addiction studies ever done, they found that when Vietnam veterans (who were addicted to heroin when they were abroad) returned home to the US after getting clean, only 5% of them relapsed. This compares to traditional relapse rates of ~40-60%. This difference is staggering. So, what accounts for the difference?

One word: environment. When the veterans’ environment changed, so did their conditioned habits.

We think we are all powerful, all knowing beings. But, many times, we are being controlled by factors that we aren’t even aware of. Often, our environment unconsciously influences our behavior. Environmental triggers, like passing a certain fast food chain, hanging out with your old smoking buddies or visiting your old watering hole, can provide the impetus to perform previously programmed behaviors: eating, smoking and drinking, respectively. These behaviors are so deeply ingrained (and often subconscious) that they are quite difficult to resist; we don’t even know it’s happening until it’s over.

To combat negative behaviors such as these, you have to interrupt your environmentally-inspired pre-programming. You have to take yourself out of “autopilot” and into command center mode.

There are two ways to do this:

1. Change your environment: Stop driving past that McDonald’s every night and instead take the scenic route home. Stop hanging out with the crew that chows down and instead choose the crew that CrossFits. Slowly but surely, shift your environment from one that encourages you to go off track to one that makes it foolproof for you to stay on track with your goals.

2. Change the way you respond to your environment: This one is definitely the harder of the two. If you’re up for the challenge, by all means, go for it. But, beware that you are entering the lion’s den. This involves a bit of desire mapping, a bit of self-reflection and a bit of re-programming. See our post on How to Change Anything if you want more specifics.

At the end of the day, if you don’t control your environment, your environment will control you. Be intentional about what you do, how you do it and who you do it with; these seemingly small decisions will set the tone for whether you are taking steps towards or away from your goals.