Shape Your Environment

As I was training the other day, I accidentally glanced at myself in the mirror and read my shirt which simply said, “STRONG”. I instantly felt much stronger and became more attuned to my training. At this moment I became aware of what I have read everywhere, how your environment influences your behavior and the way you feel. Want to change what you do and how you behave, then start by changing your environment. As they say, “action begets motivation,” and the first action to take to create behavior change is shaping your environment for success. I think this step in creating behavior change is often overlooked which can explain the difficulty many people have when trying to make long term changes.

Having things in my environment that remind me of Strength has helped me deal with hard situations in my life, such as dealing with my father's dementia, moving to a new city without a job, having a certain leader attack everything I stand for. T-shirts that say “Strong” or “Strength” on them. Books about Nelson Mandela or black suffering which reminds me of people who have dealt with far worse and how they remained strong through their situations. Placing reminders in your everyday surroundings can really help shape your environment for a successful behavioral transformation. For example, if you want to start thinking of yourself in a different light you can try placing sticky notes around the place you lay your head that says words that trigger you to feel a certain way. Or you can buy books that tell stories of people who demonstrate whatever behavior it is you want to change and then leave it in eyesight around your home or take it with you everywhere you go. Get creative in choosing things to bring into your environment to help trigger you to feel and behave a certain way.

Another trick that has helped me remain strong in situations where I may feel helpless and weak is to surround myself with people who demonstrate strength, whether this is in person or online. Many times some of the behaviors we want to change may not be the popular choice, such as being healthy. This can be difficult to find people in person to surround ourselves with. This is where the beauty of the internet comes into play. Finding people online or online communities through facebook or instagram can be a good alternative especially since more and more of our time is spent looking at screens. In person, you can look for social events, gyms to join that are in your community in hopes of meeting people on the same mission as you. For many people looking to enhance their health, finding a good gym can be the most beneficial thing they can do. In a good gym, the environment for change is already in place, the reminders are all around you, people on a similar journey are all around you and in general triggers that would set you up to make decisions that won’t help you reach your goals are removed.

The last necessary piece to help create an environment geared towards changing your behavior is to get rid of things that trigger you into behaving in your old ways. For example, if you are trying to eat better but you keep cookies and donuts in your crib, you have to get rid of them. Or if you want to get work done but find yourself watching TV instead, then you don’t have to get rid of your TV but stop doing your work in the same room as the TV. Removing triggers usually takes a little trial and error. You first have to figure out what sets you up to make the opposite choice of the behavior you wish to emulate. Once you figure out what triggers you, you then have to decide how you are going to go about combatting this trigger. Once you have decided the how, then you must do.

It’s hard to argue with the sentiment that you are a product of your environment. Obviously there will always be a few people who do not match this statement and they’re called outliers. For the majority of us, what we expose ourselves to daily is what we are. If we want to change ourselves then we need to change what we expose ourselves to on a regular basis. If you take action to change your environment then you won’t have to depend on “motivation” to do things differently. The goal of Power of Strength since the beginning was created to be a part of people’s environment that could trigger them to feeling Strong which would then lead to being Strong.