As the birthing process concludes, the excitement of a new baby reverberates as joy, tears, relief, ecstasy, possibilities and hope. As soon as the newborn takes the first breath, the entire room fills with the loud cries letting everyone know, “I am healthy and alive”. The cries are quickly silenced and this authentic voice is quickly forgotten only to be replaced by a deeply impressionable process designed to suppress the natural progression of this child in favor of a predetermined programmed life. The process of conditioning this precious, innocent human being begins within the first few days of birth.
Furthermore, childhood and adolescence continue to be bombarded with explicit and implicit messages designed to solidify belief systems, thinking, emotional states, the how, when, where, and why of every decision the child will make in life. These teachings are perpetuated by parents, teachers, friends, family, religion, media, television, books, school, magazines, etc. The child quickly learns what brings rewards and how to avoid anything which brings consequences and punishment. The messages are repeated over and over and over again until the conditioning becomes a part of the child’s identity and reality.
This programming becomes a lens through which this unassuming child’s worldview is shaped resulting in conformity to familial, cultural, and societal norms and thus the society’s mission is completed.
This is the human condition. This is my story, your story, our story. Unless we have lived in complete isolation from society, no one is safe from these influences. We have forgotten that we are seeing and perceiving through a colored lens. Our reality is distorted and contaminated and it is with this misinformation that we make decisions which impact most aspects of our life. Is it possible to escape our conditioned mind in order to live an authentic life? The good news is that it is absolutely possible. If it is possible, how do we do it?
Become aware of this process and understand the implications in your life. Even becoming aware and accepting that you are limited by your conditioning is a great first step. Now you can begin to explore and challenge your default mode of operation. Are there areas of your life that simply do not make sense to you? There may be many inner conflicts where your hopes, desires and dreams are in direct contradiction with your behavior. Ask yourself why you do not trust your inner voice. What assumptions are causing you to conform to societal norms?
Get to know when the default mode of operation is present. Notice when you close your mind abruptly or when you quickly respond to a situation without even considering what is being presented. More than likely, this is your conditioned mind reacting and responding. In these situations, slow down your responses by becoming present to the circumstances and evaluate each aspect carefully. This will help to slow down your reaction time and retrain your mind.
Identify the dysfunctional patterns in your life. Dysfunctional patterns, especially during times of stress and uncertainty, can provide a big clue that your habits are overpowering your rational and authentic self. Challenge these habits. Are these habits serving you? Are they logical and rational? What beliefs can I change in order to break free of this dysfunctional pattern? Self-reflection, contemplation, and exploration will help to point you in the direction of your authentic self.
Expand your vision, expand your sphere. If the mind has to expand, your vision and awareness will have to expand as well. Begin by overcoming fears and desensitizing yourself in areas that you become easily triggered. I am extremely afraid of heights but decided to climb a mountain in Arizona. Try out new hobbies and activities that are unfamiliar to you. Meet new people of different ages and mindsets. Travel to places you would have never gone to previously. Read books that are of a new genre. Spend time alone getting to know yourself.
As you deprogram, decompress, and dissolve the years of conditioning, you will continue to create space, connection and infinite possibilities. Your true center, your higher self, your authentic self will finally be available to you as it was when you took your first breath and let the world know with your cries that you are healthy and alive!
About the author: Raj Chehl, MA, LPC, NCC, RYT is a Board Certified Licensed Profession Counselor and founder of WiseLife, LLC in Farmington Hills, MI. She is a former panelist on the Emmy Award winning PBS show, Interfaith Odyssey. Raj is an author and yoga teacher but most importantly, lives to share, love, and inspire!