Your Environment is Key to Your Happiness
Updated: Apr 16, 2020
For over the past two and a half years, I have spent so much time with myself. My recovery from an eating disorder forced me to constantly look inwards and find what made me happy. I had to relearn what made me feel fulfilled. I had to learn how to sit through discomfort -- hell. I had to SEEK discomfort. I had to challenge maladaptive beliefs that I held about love, friendship, value, connection - literally everything about the way the world works.
One of the most important lessons I've learned is that environment is so important in recovery, hell, in living a happy life. It's easy to live by other people's values, standards, and rules when you are surrounded by them and bombarded constantly. The harm comes when these values, standards, and rules don't serve you and where you are. When they don't align with your values, standards, and rules. My desire to fit in meant I was living by other people's standards/values without even knowing it. No wonder I was so unhappy - that's not what I wanted for myself. That's not how I wanted to live my life.
The hardest part for me over the past 2+ years was having to draw boundaries. To only surround myself with people who lifted me up, pushed me to be better, and sat with me through the hard times. Not all my loved ones were able to support me, love me, and add to my life in a way I needed, and the hardest thing about this whole journey was having to draw those boundaries. To invest less time in things that were no longer serving me, to let go of things that were no longer serving me.
The crazy thing about your environment is that it is everything. It has the power to throw someone into relapse, pain, and struggle. It has the power to lift someone up and fill them with love and strength.
I found my people. I have always had my people, but I have re-found my people. I have actively been choosing to surround myself with people who see the world in the same light that I do. I have surrounded myself with others who are just as introspective as I am. They push me to challenge my maladaptive beliefs. They give me the space to work through shame and guilt. They love me unconditionally. They show me that there is so much more to me than whatever I look like, whatever I do, or whatever I am working through in life.
All this to say, I have learned so much about how important it is to choose the people you surround yourself with. You have the power to invest more time in/less time in certain individuals. That is not a personal act -- everyone values different things, and if your values are not aligned with someone else, that does not make you a better person than them or vice versa. Humans are not hierarchical. Don't let anyone tell you the metrics by which you should live your life.
You know yourself best. You have the rest of your life to get to know yourself so I suggest you start now -- it makes life hell of a lot more fun.