The Great Conditioning

Who was I before the world got its hands on me?

On my body, my mind, my emotions, my self-worth?

I feel like I’ve been run through the washing machine 1,347 times and come out a version of myself I don’t recognize 20% of the time.

Granted, I give myself immense credit for the version of myself I am now – the unlearning I’ve done and continue to do. I’m sure I’ll be put in the washing machine 1,000 more times, but that will be my own choice.

What I struggle with is how it feels collectively like we’ve been told these certain things all our lives – how we should act, our value, the books we should read, tenets to follow – the list goes on for eons.

What is it for? Is it to be the idealized human that is productive in a society rooted in capitalism, hyper materialism and built on control?

Yes, that’s my perspective and you’re certainly allowed to have a different one because that’s what makes life beautiful. If I agreed with every single person on every topic I would never grow as a human and I believe that’s why we are living on this floating rock: to grow and to bloom.

No one prepares you for how exhausting the growing part is. To endure, to be resilient and still be productive in the eyes of the societal norms we’ve been conditioned since we learned to understand language.

Conditioned through the advertising thrust upon us since we learned to walk, the books that were required reading, the activities our parents dragged us to because it was polite and how they were raised – I was a child raised without a lot of autonomy over my own choices until I was a teenager.

A teenager who screamed into a void and took a sledgehammer to all she “believed” and was taught.

I spent years in survival mode, observing the world around me through an infinite amount of lenses and perspectives.

I held a lot of shame and guilt within my body for so long that once I unburdened myself from it, I felt like the cliche puppet without its strings.

Without no one to pull me in the direction they wanted me to go, I learned how to trust myself.

And I learned that what I was conditioned to believe in, I no longer believed in and didn’t actually believe in all along. I went along for the ride because it’s what made others happy – it made me a “good human”.

But what is a “good human”? When we think of an image of a good human what comes to mind? I think we get so caught up in this idea of being “good” that we forget about the duality of human nature and that good people are capable of bad things.

We are flawed, we are learning, we are eating pizza for breakfast because we want to and trying to be good in the ways we know how. We will fuck up, we will forget how to be polite in moments, but we will persevere.

We make choices every second of every day, but if we paused to think about those choices, would we find we truly made them ourselves or is our choice rooted in someone’s else’s beliefs and thoughts?

Food for thought.

I’m merely trying to be more aware of my own compulsory behaviors, choices and acknowledge what needs to be thrown in the trash or in the washing machine to come out a newer version of itself.

Wash, Rinse, Repeat.

It feels like a mantra lately and so I do. I repeat the process until I find a workable choice and then continue my search for the serotonin that is severely lacking within me.

It’s a good thing I have therapy tomorrow.

Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk.

2 thoughts on “The Great Conditioning

  1. Deep thoughts. I especially like the part about the small decisions we make every day, but I don’t think about the past—I think about the future. How will these little decisions affect my future? How does procrastinating change who I could be? What about drinking? It’s just one drink. Lots to think about here. Anyway, thanks for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, small decisions our futures selves can potentially thank us for – but I like to think that diving into the past also helps with our future as well. Or if you’re Alan Watts, then all there is the eternal present. Thanks for reading, Stuart! Always appreciate your comments.


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