The Power of Perception: How to create a positive environment

The man with the glass eye stared at me from the other side of the room. His face showed no hint of a smile. 

If you have any reservations about moving forward, I suggest you leave now. It’s not going to get any prettier from here,” he warned me in a flat, deadpan voice.  

Everyone sensed my hesitation (especially since I casually asked about the refund policy). I looked around the room cautiously, still contemplating if I wanted to go through with it, until I heard voices on the other side of the door also telling me to leave. Get a refund. Don’t go through the door, they whispered. My curiosity got the best of me and I had to know what was on the other side. Maybe they used reverse psychology, and it worked. Besides, my brother and hubby made a great point. “We’re already here. Let’s just do it.

And thus began our 30-minute adventure through Ripley’s Haunted Adventure in Gatlinburg, TN. Now I’ve never contemplated backing out of any haunted house before. I don’t do them too often (I hadn't done one in years), and the majority of the ones I’ve gone through in the past seemed kind of lame to me, and I laughed my way through them. I can’t explain why I was nervous waiting for the doors of the house to open, but there was something about this house from the moment we stepped inside. We arrived close to midnight and we were in a very small group, and the very first room they brought us to – the mockup funeral parlor – laid the groundwork for what to expect.  

When it feels real

It’s funny how you can know that something isn’t real, but you still react to it as if it is reality. As we walked through the gigantic house, we realized it was not a typical haunted house (we spent half of our time fumbling around through the house in pitch black hallways and rooms). Although the actors covered in guts couldn't touch us, it didn't stop us from taking off when the man broke out of his cage at the end. 

“I got something for you Rick!” someone yelled at my husband through the darkness (he knew my husband’s name by that point because I screamed it out loud a few times). Of course we knew the chainsaw was fake and the creepy man was just another actor, but we still sprinted to the elevator, closed the doors and left the others behind! Lol! (Judge away). The house exceeded all of our expectations, and its atmosphere delivered.    


Guard Your Atmosphere  

Building your foundation  

What environment do you want to create?  

Similar to the Ripley’s Haunted Adventure attraction, certain environments can create an illusion that looks real and feels real, so we respond based on what’s around us in that moment. If the dark narrow hallways and rooms in Ripley's house were replaced with bright lighting and open space, people wouldn’t be shocked, and they’d probably want their money back. This particular tourist attraction was created to spook people, so certain elements, like bright lights or uptempo music, would never fit into the atmosphere.  

That’s why WHO and WHAT we allow into our space is important because they can influence how we see ourselves and our situation, which can eventually alter what we believe and create an illusion that our situations won’t improve.  

It’s important to guard your surroundings at all times, but it’s especially crucial when going through a major life change. This includes weeding out negative people or getting rid of habits and mindsets that hinder your progress. Become aware of your surroundings and determine what/who you want around you, and get rid of elements that no longer fit. 

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.
— Maya Angelou

Dump the Naysayers

Do you notice how different you feel hanging around a person with a positive outlook versus someone with a negative attitude? Negative energy is draining and can transfer into your own atmosphere. If you constantly surround yourself with folks who tell you what you can’t do, throw shade or speak negativity over your dreams, you may begin questioning your own ability. Naysayers and haters plant seeds of doubt and the more you let them in your environment, those seeds can begin to grow and produce insecurity and disbelief, eventually becoming a thorn in your side when it comes to your confidence.   

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
— Winston Churchhill

When you’re going through a new chapter in life, you have to protect your space, including your hopes, dreams, life goals, etc. You can’t let everyone in. Everyone isn’t going to build you up, so let go of people holding you back so that you can make room for those who will have your back and are genuinely supportive and positive.  


Monitor Internal Monologue  

Our mindset sets the tone for what we believe about ourselves and our situation. You can have 20 people in your corner cheering you on, but their encouragement will be short-lived if your internal dialogue constantly consists of “I can’t” or “I don’t have what it takes.” We can be our own worst critics when we allow our inner conversation to sabotage our efforts. Negative self-talk includes putting yourself down or comparing yourself to other people, which creates an atmosphere of fear, judgment and disbelief.  

Changing your internal dialogue can alter how you view your circumstances. Negative inner conversations make it difficult to move forward in any situation, while positive self-talk helps you get through challenging times. It doesn’t mean you dismiss how you feel, but you don’t have to let negative self-talk consume and control you.  

Some ways to improve inner conversations include:

  • Develop gratitude: Reminding yourself of things (both big and small) to be grateful for cultivates a positive mindset. It’s hard to engage in negative self-talk when we focus on our blessings. 
  • Surround yourself with positive affirmations: This can include inspirational quotes, your favorite scriptures or your own personal mantras. (One of my favorites is Proverb 18:16: A man's gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men)
  • Replace the chatter: Take control by swapping out negative thoughts for positive statements. A crappy day could be the reality but the positive outlook is you made it through the day. Ex: “Today was rough, but I survived” versus “Today was rough as usual and I don’t see things getting better.” Both statements acknowledge the problem, but the first one creates hope while the latter creates despair.  
“Your outlook upon life, your estimate of yourself, your estimate of your value are largely colored by your environment. Your whole career will be modified, shaped, molded by your surroundings, by the character of the people with whom you come in contact every day”
-Orison Swett Marden

We don’t always have a choice about what happens to us in life, but we can control who and what we let into our lives and environment. Envision the reality that you want and be picky about the things and people you allow in. An important part of taking care of ourselves is creating a positive environment free of drama, negativity and anything that hinders our growth.

yours truly,