Check yourself before you wreck yourself
Tena tatou e te iwi! The new moon comes around in a few days so we’re bringing in a new kaupapa (theme) to explore for the next few weeks..
“The surroundings or conditions in which an individual (animal or plant) lives in and operates.” By now, I’m hoping that we all understand we are shaped by our environment in one way or another, yeah? The physical location we’re born into and the place we grow up in influence the way we see the world, ourselves and the way we behave. The environment in our mind narrates the story we feed ourselves about how we think or feel, and why we think or feel that way and so on.
Take a sec to consider your own environment, where do you spend most of your time? What are your most common conditions of operation? For many of us a fair chunk of the environment we live in today is instant everything. Kai (food): Sugar loaded food giving us an instant sugar rush and energy buzz // we eat 1 spinach leaf and expect to get shredded that afternoon. Social interactionsl: if a photo doesn’t get 1000 likes in 5minutes it gets taken down // we can video call or contact almost anyone from anywhere to anywhere in the world. Income: we don’t wanna put in work, why when we can get rich quick // we expect our perfect dream job right away because we're told we can have/be/do whatever we want (the effort and investment to make it happen obviously missed in the fine print). Relationships: never mind putting in the ground work to build a relationship based on love, trust and respect; just swipe left of right and your match is right there. I’m not saying any of these are right or wrong, how to or not to live, they're just fact. No judgement, but I can tell ya it takes at least two spinach leaves...
This is the environment of the Western world in 2017, and the social media takeover is happening whether we like it or not, and ya ain’t gots ta lie, this is a safe space; we spend a lot of time updating, checking, scrolling on our various feeds. Maybe it’s productive time spent on IG or Facebook or maybe its brain numbing to pass the time - at the end of the day it still takes up a lot of our precious time. So what does this online environment look like, how does it make us feel, how do we behave in it? My Facebook used to be filled with a lot people and pages who complained and perpetuated mediocre values and messages and basically, stuff I didn’t wanna see. I would see their posts, roll my eyes and continue scrolling til the next offender popped up. One day I realised I didn’t like reacting that way, I didn’t like resenting their posts, I didn't like having a negative reaction and I don't remember how long but I eventually realised I could do something about it. I became more intent about how I was spending my time and because a lot of it was online, I wanted to create (as much as I could within my control) an environment which fostered creativity, love, aspirations and campaigns that I care about. I only have about 3 friends on my page as a result but it’s all good.
In the overheating/breakdown I mentioned in this post, my environment had suddenly changed and was due to the shifts in my head and in my heart. A series of events built up over a short time that overwhelmed the heck outtame and as a result; I had become uninterested in participating in my own life. I was just existing and for a long time I didn’t know how to change it. As I reflect on the space I was in, I see that little changes along the way pulled me through to being myself again and one of the first changes I made was in my work situation/environment. I had become unbothered if I accomplished anything at work or not and for a day or two, I was ok with it. I thought it would pass, but it didn’t. My work environment which used to encourage a dedication to excellence had become barren and unproductive. I knew my work deserved more than that and if I wasn’t going to give it, I had to step away to let someone who could give the kaupapa (cause, mission) the commitment and effort it deserved. I felt like I was letting everyone down by not doing my mahi (work), which didn’t have the best effect on my confidence or feeling of self-worth, so I did something about it. I changed my physical environment (work) which in turn affected my psychological wellbeing (environment) as well.
My healing since then has been many small steps in modifying my environment to become one which guides me towards where I need to go. For example; my social environment, the people I interact with. I talk to and spend time with people I want to talk to. I’m choosing to spend time you because I want to, I’m talking to you at 1am in the morning because I want to.. not because I have to. It might come off snobby or rude but I don’t care too much about that, because I value my time and yours too so if we’re spending time together you know that’s exactly where I want to be. Be mature about it, I'm super kind and polite to everyone I meet, I'm a delight! But there's a difference between that and building/maintaining relationships which is where you have to spend a lot of time ie. your social environment.. Is it starting to make a little sense yet?
The flow on effect of small changes is ultimately what lead to this blog. When I moved to Perth, I didn’t have a plan on what to do. I never even contemplated that I would have to do anything, not because I wanted someone else to do it all for me, my foresight at the time was terrible and nonexistent (a major work on for me for some time now). I was bored at home, I was putting pieces into place for the photography but I also wanted a way to share my whakaaro (ideas), I wanted to make an impact of some sort, even if it got one person thinking about life differently.. and here we are. I made changes to my environment at home, I no longer slept the days away or at the gym. I made time to research how to write a blog, what server was best, how to promote it and what not to do. I reached out to and started following successful bloggers and networking groups, I watched videos and attended online workshops.. I put post its up everywhere in my apartment to keep me motivated and on task.. I put a lot of work into trying to create an environment which would produce the best results from me for what I wanted and it's not a complete disaster...
So I reckon, if we can create the best environment for ourselves to succeed in whatever we want to do - the rest will take care of itself. Say for instance, in my relationships I do my best to control the physical environment: make it feel warm, loving and safe etc. and I do as much as I can for the emotional and mental spaces; be encouraging, foster high-trust, be supportive, be peaceful and loving etc. it’s only natural that the product of these environments will be a positive, loving and supportive relationship. Yes foreseen and unforeseen events will occur that may rock the boat and that’s life, but if the conditions of said relationships are built on a solid base of love, trust and respect then it doesn’t matter what happens - that foundation is staying put.
The grass is greener where you water it.
So if you took a quick audit of your environment and you think it could use a little pruning here and there, or a whack with a chainsaw - you are allowed to do it. I'm not giving you permission, I'm just reminding you that you can change a lot of your circumstances. Don't like the people you hang around, do something about it. Address what the real problem is; conversation topics, conflicting values, or perhaps you've all grown out of each others company - whatever it is you can make changes to keep it or to let it go. Don't like living at home, neither do your parents probably.. We have a lot more control and power than we realise about the environments we live in. Task for this week, check yourself.. before you wreck yourself. We try to give our kids* the best chance at growing up right? We try our best to teach them right from wrong, to care for others, to be kind. We want them to be safe and to be good people, generally speaking or we don't want them getting caught up in violent and abusive crowds. Want that for yourself too! If your environment, and it can be any of them; online, social, physical, emotional, whatever.. if your environment doesn't serve you or is holding you back, do something about it.
Ngā mihi maioha,