How is ‘Conditioning’ influencing your behaviour and life today?
As we approach the end of the year, we often start to consider the Goals we want to set for the year ahead. Often we make the same goals that we’ve had in previous years and failed to achieve, so we set the same goal over and over again.
Why do we fail to achieve those goals? Could it be because we’re ‘conditioned to behave in a certain way and until we change that ‘behaviour’, we will continue to ‘fail’ in our Goals?
If you find yourself repeating similar situations in your life or failing to achieve goals you set, it may be because you have developed subconscious beliefs about yourself that you aren’t even aware of.
From the moment we are born, we are conditioned by those close to us to behave in a certain way. As you are aware, babies and young children are like sponges, soaking up the words and behaviours of those around them as they learn and develop. They are influenced by the behaviour and words of those around them as they learn what may be dangerous or what they are ‘expected’ to do etc. This conditioning comes from our parents/carers/grandparents/siblings/teachers/peers etc. and influences our beliefs and behaviour as we move into adulthood.
We often continue for many years and sometimes all of our lives with some behaviours that are having a negative impact on our life, without ever questioning why we hold onto that thought process… Let me share a couple of personal examples with you:
My sister was a talented artist and as a child, 5 years younger than my sister, whenever I drew anything, it always looked ‘inferior’ to the drawings of my sister and looking back, I realise that I avoided ‘drawing’ at all cost.. I opted to do ‘woodwork’ not ‘art’ at school and constantly stated for years that I was ‘rubbish at drawing’…
Then.. a few years ago, I studied NLP and as part of the course, i was hypnotised by Dr Richard Bandler (co founder of NLP) and on stage in front of 400 people, in 30 minutes, I painted a large canvas… I shocked myself with the painting that I created… I’d believed for 45 years that I couldn’t draw and certainly couldn’t paint and yet somewhere from deep within, I produced a painting that was credible….
I’d held onto a ‘belief’ from the unintentional conditioning of my childhood that had influenced my behaviour way into my adulthood.. In fact if I hadn’t been on that training, I would have taken the ‘belief’ that I was rubbish at art to my deathbed.. It wasn’t that I ‘couldn’t draw’ it was that I had believed I couldn’t draw… Being 5 years younger than my sister, my art would never compare to hers and so I’d been conditioned to believe I was ‘rubbish’ …
Some religions recognised many years ago that they could ‘indoctrinate’ children into following the ‘rules’ of their religion, if they could access them from a very young age up to the age of around 7 years.. and the child was likely to remain ‘of that religion’ for the rest of their lives…
So as we develop through childhood, we develop some ‘core beliefs’ about ourselves and the world around us, which were established by our ‘conditioning’ i.e. what we heard or experienced when we didn’t have the capacity to think through the logic or the rights and wrongs of what we were hearing or experiencing.
Some of the ‘conditioning’ spreads from one generation to the next without us ever realising that we are doing it.. We are simply ‘passing on’ the beliefs that we have held and maybe not questioned in our language..
I heard a lady admonishing her young child in a supermarket recently.. “You are SO STUPID” she shouted at him on several occasions. I wanted to go up to her and explain that he would likely continue to ‘BE STUPID’ because she was conditioning him through her angry words that he was! Just a simple shift in what we say can make a big difference… Even in anger, changing the YOU ARE STUPID to THAT WAS A SILLY THING TO DO, distinguishes a difference in what has happened away from the ‘person’ to the ‘act’.. If you were called ‘STUPID’ as a child then you may continue this negative language to your own children and hence the ‘conditioning’ spreads from one generation to the next..
HOW CAN WE CHANGE WHAT WE HAVE BEEN CONDITIONED TO BELIEVE?
To begin with, it’s important to take some time to review what may have heard or observed around you. This may be as a child, but can also be things that have had a big impact on you later in your life as well that makes you believe something is true.
Our minds ‘generalise’ situations and we often ‘expand the truth’. Maybe after one failed relationship, you felt ‘unloved’ and from that single situation, you were conditioned to believe that you can never be loved, and you therefore subconsciously fail to commit or push people away etc. and as a result of behaviour you’re not even aware of, your ‘prophecy’ turns out to be true i.e. A Self Fulfilling Prophecy!
Firstly you need to look at something that isn’t working in your life and that you would like to change e.g. you never have any money or you think you can’t do something or your relationships always seem to end the same way etc.
- Take some time to consider that ‘situation’ and track back when it first began and listen to yourself… notice what you tell yourself about the ‘subject’ e.g. “I’m rubbish with money” “I’m not creative” “I can’t commit to someone long term in a relationship” etc. etc. etc.
- Recognise any ‘similarities’ in your behaviour and notice some of the language you use in relation to it i.e. Your thought process at those time etc. – Write down some of the words that come into your mind in relation to the ‘situation’
- Think about your early years and the language that your parents, siblings, friends etc. used which may have influenced your thoughts around this subject… What did you witness others saying around the subject or what did you observe as a child that may be continuing to influence your own behaviour now?
Writing down what you remember hearing about certain things as a child can be quite illuminating. What do you remember hearing or experiencing about those things has a child?
For example, you may have been conditioned in your beliefs around money – I was…
My parents were reasonably ‘comfortable’, my dad had a good job, they owned their home and we always had plenty of food in the cupboard… However, they had grown up through the Second World War when money was tight, food was rationed etc. and they had been ‘conditioned’ themselves in their beliefs around money, in a way that had a continuing influence on their behaviour when they later started to earn their own money.
They were ‘comfortable’.. not ‘rich’ and yet when they talked about money, I often heard them say things like: “Money doesn’t bring you happiness” or “Money is the root of all evil”, “Don’t make money your goal in life” “money doesn’t grow on trees”
Although as an adult, I can now rationalise what they were saying and agree with some of their principles and the reasoning behind their words, as a child, I didn’t have that capacity to think beyond the surface of what they were saying. I believe I was therefore conditioned at an early age in relation to ‘money’ .
I learned to be fearful of having money and it’s easy to understand why… Hearing my parents saying.. “Money doesn’t bring happiness” was subconsciously interpreted by me as a child, as if money doesn’t bring happiness, then it must bring unhappiness.
That simple and unintentional ‘conditioning’ embedded within me, through listening to my parents, continued to influence my own behaviour around money for many years.
I look back now and can recall all the times I gave money away, bought things for myself and other people that they didn’t really need etc. instead of using the money more wisely.
In other words, to avoid ‘unhappiness’ which was what I thought ‘having money’ would bring, I got rid of any spare cash, one way or another, to avoid the ‘pain and unhappiness’ that my early conditioning made me believe having spare cash may bring… Even though that clearly wasn’t true!
So now, with a clearer understanding of our thoughts around a situation that we want to be different in future, it’s possible to consider how we can change those ‘deep routed’ thoughts and create a new ‘reality’ instead.
Write down what you would ‘like’ to think about the situation in an ‘ideal world’ e.g. “I attract money to me easily” ” I am able to save money and use it wisely to do good things” “I enjoy loving relationships” “I love being creative” etc.
- Create a ‘Focus Vision Board’ detailing how you would like things to be around a particular situation… Look at your ‘Focus Board’ daily and enjoy looking at the pictures and words that you’ve added. 5 Steps to Create Your ‘Focus’ Vision Board
- Use the power of ‘Visualisation’ to start embedding a new ‘belief’ into your subconscious mind. Your subconscious doesn’t understand the difference between imagination and reality and therefore ‘imagining’ a situation as how you’d like it to be, and repeating this way of thinking over and over again for a period of time will change your inner thought process and thus how you behave. (top sports people use ‘visualisation’ to improve their performance because IT WORKS!)
- Notice your ‘inner voice’ – be conscious of what you are saying to yourself and when you notice yourself being ‘negative’, FLIP IT, to something positive instead… Do You Know What You Want? Write down your ‘negative words’ and then write down the opposite e.g. “I’m rubbish with money” would FLIP to “I’m brilliant with money”
- Do something different. Start to make small conscious changes. e.g. If you think you can’t save money, start to put a small amount of change in a ‘saving pot’ each day. Even just saving a few pence a day will start to evidence to your subconscious mind, that YOU CAN save money. Write down some of the small changes you could make and then TAKE THOSE SMALL CHANGES!
- Build momentum… write down your successes e.g. At the end of 1 week putting coppers into a jar, count it and give yourself a pat on the back for saving some money. Write down other things you could do to ‘save money’ etc.
You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can start to create a new reality!
I love the quote “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” and in this case, changing your ‘conditioning’ begins with noticing your inner thoughts and then taking action steps, to change those thoughts which are holding you back. into new thoughts that will drive you forward to succeed!
- Look inside yourself and become conscious of your thoughts
- Consciously change the language you use within yourself
- Use the power of visualisation to create a new way of thinking
MAKE 2017 THE YEAR WHERE YOU REVEAL YOUR BRILLIANCE WITHIN…… TO YOURSELF!