22 Jul 2016

Are you allowing your environment to change who you are?


If you don’t choose an environment that fits with who you are authentically then the true you will disappear. By ‘environment’ I’m talking about friendships, family, work and relationships.

Who do you surround yourself with?

If you consciously choose close friends who share your values then you can be authentic and vulnerable. If you surround yourself with friends who judge and gossip, you will have to adapt to survive. Before long, you’ll be passing glib comment on others and justifying the compromise to your integrity to sustain your newly found friendships. The true you will become invisible.

Your family might not recognise you.

Were you encouraged to freely express who you truly are when growing up? If you were forced to conform, then you may still be living as the conditioned version of you. But if you’ve worked hard to find your way back to your authentic self, then family gatherings will likely cause some disconnect. Parents and siblings can struggle to adapt to behaviour that they don’t recognise. The pressure to revert to who you were as a teenager can be strong when surrounded by the familial relationship dynamic.

The pressure to conform will subside.

It’s normal to feel the pressure – but don’t succumb to it! Eventually the relationship dynamic will change and the pressure will subside as your family members adapt to who you’ve become. I’ve had coaching clients who avoid spending time with family because it’s just too difficult to be who they truly are among those who want them to go back to who they were. In those cases, avoidance is often the best short-term tactic, whilst they grow in authentic confidence.

The ‘perfect you’ can’t be maintained.

The romantic relationship can be a very compelling environment. If who you truly are is still invisible when you meet ‘the One’, then you’re going to be susceptible to the conditioning of that new environment. You will look for signs of what he or she wants and needs from you and be keen to provide it. As things settle, the person who they ‘presented’ to you at the outset can’t be maintained.

Knowing who you are is good for your relationships.

You think they’ve changed, and you feel cheated. But the same will be true for you. You have both become the product of the environment of the new relationship because you weren’t anchored in your authentic selves. When you know who you are, and like her, you can be completely visible in the relationship from the outset. You give permission to your partner to be who they truly are too.

Do you interview your prospective boss?

When you prepare to enter a new work environment, is the assessment process two-way? Do you interview your prospective boss so that you can be sure that he or she shares your values? Do you talk to existing workers to hear what they have to say about the culture? To flourish, you need a work environment that enables you to be authentic and allows you to develop. If either of these aspects is absent then you won’t be successful or happy. In fact, you will become the product of your environment and who you truly are will disappear in your struggle to adapt and survive.

Are you free to be who you truly are?

Brave choices about the environments you inhabit are easy when you are comfortable being your true self. Think about the relationship and work environments in your life – are you free to be who you truly are? If not, how long can you sustain that compromise before becoming invisible?