One is that God loves you and you're going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love."
~ Butch Hancock
Early childhood conditioning is essential for our growth, but hanging onto it in adulthood is like a butterfly clinging to its cocoon. It is our individual responsibility to question received beliefs and discard those that no longer serve us. Trouble is, we identify so strongly with so-called personal points of view--all of which were given us at some time by another--that we often don't know how not to identifywith them. Some people turn to drugs and alcohol in an attempt to mitigate early influences and experience new thought. But inebriating one's sensitive brain only mirrors the original trauma of being overpowered by extrinsic programming.
We are conditioned by caregivers, teachers, neighbors, peers, media, politicians, spiritual leaders, and our entire culture. Some overtly attempt to control our thinking, committing psychological abuse comparable to brainwashing. Other influences parrot groupthink programming thoughtlessly, like a radio left blaring. Although we are genetically programmed to tune out overly painful messages, if the bombardment is constant enough it becomes ingrained in our memory.
Negative conditioning makes harmful thoughts feel safe and insecurities seem secure. Even if we learn to recognize these distortions in our thinking, long-term negative conditioning can give them such a sense of familiarity that we feel disloyal negating them. The feeling of not being good enough can become especially habitual if one's conditioning equated worthiness with rigidly idealized behavior, particularly in regard to sexuality and relationships. But there's no rationale for keeping tuned in to a program that no longer addresses our true needs. It's up to us to change the channel of our customary thinking. No one else can possibly find the new frequency attuned to our individual truth.
DAILY HEALTHY ACTS
- What conditioning did you receive as a child from caregivers, community, and culture? Do these messages still support your self-image, relationships, and dreams? Counter negative programming and shine the light on all your stinkin' thinking'.
- The tragedy of negative conditioning is that life usually meets our expectations, which, in this case, are our most negative ones. If you happen to catch yourself in toxic patterns--the result of past conditioning--start with empathy for your own authentic, love-growing self.