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.

Front and back cover of the road to mental wellness - 8 sings your relationship is hurting your mental health.
Find out more below – Written for therapeutic release, published in hopes it helps you.

Or have a listen to an excerpt of TRTMW

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: Crisis Services Canada

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

Jonathan Arenburg

Jonathan Arenburg is a mental health blogger, S speaker, writer, and published author; He is also the host of the mental wellness podcast, #thewellnesstalksHe has also appeared in the i'Mpossible's Lemonade Stand III. He has also been a contributing writer for Mental health talk, a column in his local paper. In addition, he has also written for the mental health advocacy organization; Sick Not Weak.Jonathan has also appeared on several mental health-related podcasts Including: A New Dawn, The Depression Files, Books and Authors, and Men Are Nuts. Since being put off work because of PTSD, Jonathan has dedicated his time to his mental wellness journey while helping others along the way.Educated as an addictions' counsellor, he has dedicated most of his professional life of eighteen years, working with those who have intellectual disabilities, behavioural challenges, and mental illness.He has also spent fifteen years in the volunteer fire service helping his community.His new book (2021), “The Road To Mental Wellness,” goes into detail about his life-long battle with depression, anxiety and more recently, PTSD. In it, he hopes to provide insight on how mental illness cultivates over a lifetime and, if not recognized and treated, how it impacts the entirety of one's life; right from childhood into the adult years. Jonathan lives with his two children in Nova Scotia, Canada.

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