I heard today about someone who left their busy ‘workaholic’ life in London to seek peace in the Swedish countryside. But, busy-ness still followed them like a shadow. Because, while their environment had changed, they had not. A workaholic is a workaholic whether they live in London or the Swedish mountains. Sometimes, fleeing a situation can be a bit like running from your shadow.

It’s always both

We are often very quick to blame circumstances for this and that. For the various difficulties and problems that we face, not realising that we might often be creating our own difficulties. Of course, environmental influences are massive. It is our many life experiences and conditioned behaviours that make each one of us who we are.

But, you must not forget that your environment is as much a product of you, as you are a product of your environment. You create your world, in the same way that the world creates you. They go together and you cannot have one without the other. How you relate to what is happening is as important as what-is-happening. They are, in a sense, inseparable.

Taking responsibility

To be clear, the countryside can certainly have a calming effect that is different to being in a busy city. We must acknowledge that physical reality. The point is that one has to be willing and open to enjoy that calm. Because no matter what environment you put yourself in, you can always be dissatisfied. In a state of unease and inner tension. And, if you are more allowing of that calm within you, perhaps you can find peace even in the most hectic environment.

It is then about taking responsibility for your part in what happens, for that part which you create, which may be quite a lot btw! And, from there to recognise that you are at the same time, both influencing and being influenced by your environment. There is no other way around it. To blame it all on your environment is to enter the world of blind determinism. To claim that your environment is irrelevant and that you are fully in control of everything, is similarly nonsensical.

Stop running from your shadow

Reality is neither. We are constantly surfing a wave that is something different. A paradoxical happening — simultaneously influencing and being influenced. Your reality creates you, but, don’t forget that you too create your own reality. You have to take responsibility for that.

Otherwise, you risk retreating to the mountains, forgetting that you have responsibility and power. Forgetting that what you seek may already be within your grasp. It becomes like running from your shadow, when it is more about surfing a wave.


Harsha is an executive and life coach based in London. He supports people to find more clarity, confidence and focus in their lives. Find out more about Harsha’s work.