I'm all about "the individual".
Social psychology is just not my cup of tea.
That doesn't mean I don't think our environment has an influence on us or that looking at someone's surroundings is not useful or valuable. What I mean is that my focus is more on empowering the individual within the group regardless of their surroundings. Instead of focusing (primarily) on the influence the environment has on the individual.
That is because it's not always possible to change one's surroundings right away and instantly have a new group of friends. We do however have control over ourselves.
Ultimately I pay attention to both. Just like the body and mind work together and influence each other and my focus is (primarily) on the mind. It's just a choice that I've made for myself and my work.
I was the extremely shy/anxious child that stood up for others that were bullied or treated unfairly.
I was one of the few in my group of friends that withstood the temptation of trying out cigarettes or drugs.
I was the girl who parents trusted to supervise their children when we went out. Because I never had more than 1 or two alcoholic drinks a night.
I stepped out of my comfort zone by teaming up with strangers during classes while my friends teamed up with other friends.
I've always been the odd one out and the one that was respected for who I was/am.
Either way, it's all about attitude, perspective, and mindset. It all starts with inner work. With the realization that something better is available and choosing that deliberately. As an individual, you must first free yourself from the influence of your environment before you can create an environment that inspires you, is good for you and that suits you.
I'm a very autonomous and self-driven person. That's part of my #humandesign. And because I'm so good at standing my ground regardless of any peer pressure or possible negative consequences like being cast out, misunderstood or scolded, I can teach others how to do the same. I even once taught an actual class on this very topic to first graders in high school.
I know its possible because I've been doing seemingly impossible things, regardless of my circumstances, all my life. And I've witnessed others do the same. There are so many examples of (famous) people that were able to leave poverty, addiction, and other toxic influences behind. Not because they suddenly found themselves in different circumstances, but because they created opportunities for themselves. The choice to leave was born in their minds and hearts first.
Of course the other way around can also work, but again, the individual is my point of entry for change.
I believe that we as human beings are infinitely powerful. I've seen miraculous transformations in my sub-assertive clients who, before us working together, were people pleasers, didn't set any boundaries and only took other peoples needs into consideration. I watched them finally stand up for themselves. Make bold choices. Take good care of themselves and flourish because of all that.
It's a skill that can be acquired. Maybe not by everyone. I'm sure there are exceptions, even whole villages of people that my message won't resonate with. But for those who do believe in the power of the individual (that is then automatically transferred to those around them if they're open to it), this message is for you: know that you can learn how to stay centered, how to choose your own path and what is needed for you to be less susceptible to your environment and instead focus on nourishing your internal milieu.
You see, when you stand in your power, you automatically give permission to others around you to do the same... So just as "most people become the average of the 5 people they hang out with the most", the same is true for the influence we can have on our environment. That's how powerful we are.