In chapter 3 of Triggers by Malcom Goldsmith he discusses how our environment triggers us in different ways. You may not be a cynical person most of the time but around certain people you tend to be more cynical than normal or maybe 90% of the time you are a patient person but in certain environments you are tightly wound and snap at people around you. This isn’t to say that we can excuse certain actions because of the environment we are in but it does reveal that our environment effects us positively or negatively whether we like it or not.
If there is one “disease” that I’m trying to cure in this book, it revolves around our total misapprehension of our environment. We think we are in sync with our environment, but actually it’s at war with us. We think we control our environment but in fact it controls us. We think our external environment is conspiring in our favor—that is, helping us— when actually it is taxing and draining us. It is not interested in what it can give us. It’s only interned in what it can take from us (26).
After showing some of the positive aspects of environment he goes on to say the following:
Much of the time, however, our environment is the devil. That’s the part that eludes us: entering a new environment changes our behavior in sly ways, whether we’re sitting in a conference room with colleagues or visiting friends for dinner or enduring our weekly phone with an aging parent…the most pernicious environments are the ones that comes us to compromise our sense of right and wrong. In the ultra competitive environment of the workplace, it can happen to the most solid citizens (28-9).
We all know our environment can trigger us but the key is to peel away the layers and figure out the why so we can address those triggers head on.