You can’t control the environment

Part one – You can’t control the environment, especially if you don’t understand how the world around you affect your life.

You can’t control the environment

Jonathan Arenburg
Jonathan Arenburg

Jonathan is a mental health blogger, published author, and speaker. He has appeared in numerous newspapers and has been a guest on many podcasts.

You can’t control the environment – copyright, 2022

Today, I started off my day like any other. In an early morning brain fog, cursing that the coffee pot “hurry up, will ya!”  And like anyone else today living in modern times, I picked up my phone to fill in the time with “mindless scrolling.”

Even though I wasn’t able to process what I was taking in, there was one article that snapped me to life. At least long enough to take in the words on the page. The title that sat me up in got my attention was entitled, Nearly half of Canadian renters will stay tenants indefinitely; Adena Ali, The Canadian Press, Staff, Published June 23, 2022, 11:05 a.m. ADT.

Although I was squinting against the remanence of last night’s sleep, its contents were loud and clear. 50% of all Canadians surveyed believe they will rent indefinitely?? Yet another sad and mental illness-producing reality for millions. And if that weren’t enough, the increasing cost of food and utilities can drown one in a sea of depression.

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To make matters worse is the social construct in which we are expected to live our lives. What do I mean by this? Well, since we were young, we are expected to be on a trajectory that says “You succeed in school, you do well in college or university, then you buy your home and start your family.”

Simple, right? Well as it turns out, this “life trajectory” doesn’t account for everything that goes on around you. In other words, you can’t control the environment that’s around you every day. To be clear, I’m not talking about the trees, the birds, and the bees; Rather, I am talking about the economic and political environments that impact our lives on a daily basis.

What true reality is – at least I think so – is that the entire world is set up on a market-based system. So, for example, while you may be on a mission to buy a home to raise a family and or to live, that home’s value is dictated by a market.

In other words, you have little control over inflation or market value. However, you have the power to learn that:

  • The world is bigger than you
  • And you can educate yourself on how things work.

So, a bank will tell you for example, “You can borrow up to $250,000 toward your new home.” Where people get into trouble is that this $250,000 number, is near the threshold of their total budget.

Essentially, this leaves little wiggle room for the type of economic situation we are currently in. To clarify, if the majority of your budget is on your home, hikes in inflation put you in danger of losing your home.

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Currently, it is somewhere in the order of 1 in 4 Canadians worry about losing their homes. Not surprisingly, this causes an unbelievable amount of stress; a stress that will have a ripple effect across the economic spectrum. Not to mention more strain on the mental-health care system.

What I believe to be true is this: we need to start educating children and young people about how the world actually works. When we break it down to its fundamental truth, the powers that be are more concerned about taking money out of your pocket. One shouldn’t be surprised to learn that they don’t care about you or where you live.

While you may feel powerless and like things are beyond your control, you can in fact take back some of your control. How? By dismantling the old narrative that puts you on this trajectory in the first place. It’s worth noting, however, that industries do their best to ensure instant gratification remains in place. This understandably, makes the nation’s economy frail.

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And even though they expect you to be part of this instant gratification, you don’t have to be. In fact, studies show that delayed gratification is more likely to produce successful people. In all honesty, it’s about changing your mindset. So, factor in all the variables and play the long game.

I know, now you’re thinking “How the hell do I change my mindset?’’ Well, although it’s not easy, fundamentally one would do the opposite of what they’re doing now. We can achieve this by asking ourselves the right questions. Chief among them are the following:

  • “What do I know and don’t know about all the variables in the financial markets?”
  • “Can I in all reality afford this place?”
  • “Should I risk losing the house because I love it so much?”
  • “What’s at stake if I lose the house?”
  • “What impact will it have on me and my family mentally?”

Additionally, it may be useful to make a list of all the potential ramifications of having to start over. (Hint: It’s almost unimaginable what one goes through to get back on their feet). A task that’s remarkably more difficult in tougher times.

How do cope with the current economic situation

While you might not want to think about such questions, finding the answers to them could be a lifesaver. So, we should never underestimate the power of what we’re getting into without being informed. It’s been devastating for many.

Lastly, I would say that those 50% of Canadians making the decision to rent indefinitely are doing the right thing. Given the current economic environment, it’s wise to hunker down and put off plans.

What makes this a wise decision? Well, in simple terms, it’s because we have a housing crisis. One that is seeing many people displaced.

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Just one more thing. Because you can’t control your environment, you are not a failure because you cannot buy the 4000-square foot home. Nor have you done anything wrong if you can’t buy that really expensive truck that you’ve had your eye on. These are just simply things that are beyond your control. And the biggest lesson that we can take from this economic crisis? We need to live within our means and do whatever it takes to look after ourselves and others. For your sake, and your loved ones, adapt for your mental well-being.

If you are struggling, please go here for help: Talk Suicide Canada

In Part 2 I will discuss how do remain mentally strong in tough times.

Jonathan Arenburg

Jonathan Reginald-Nixon Arenburg (Born January 14, 1976) is a Canadian mental health blogger, speaker, and published author. Retired from the fire service and long-term care fields, he has written and self-published an autobiographical account of his life-long battle with anxiety, depression and more recently, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Titled, The Road To Mental Wellness, he wrote it for what he calls “therapeutic release.” He published it in hopes it would help others going through similar mental health conditions. The sales of The Road To Mental Wellness have been steady selling over 300 copies since its release on October 10, 2021(World Mental Health Day). Arenburg has also been involved in a collaborative publication Called Lemonade Stand Volume III, a book featuring 20 authors who bravely tell their stories of PTSD. All authors where from the military and or emergency services. Published by Joshua Rivedal and Kathleen Myers for the i’Mpossible project, a mental health advocacy organization. Jonathan has also appeared on several mental health podcasts including The Depression Files, A New Dawn, and The Above Ground Podcast Arenburg has also consulted with the Government of Nova Scotia and the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, the Honorable Brian Comer and Candidates for the New Democratic Party of Canada, on improving the mental health care system in Canada. Additionally, Jonathan was recognized in The Nova Scotia Legislature by the Honorable, Chris Palmer, Kings-North MLA, for his Book, The Road To Mental Wellness, his fight to make the mental health care system better. In addition, Chis acknowledged the support he gives to others.

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