First published on HuffPost 22/04/2017
Every day is made up of a string of choices – some of them large, some of them small. Some of them conscious but most of them unconscious. Almost all of them place little thought on the value that we place on our life.
Most of the time we wander mechanically through our day, reacting rather than participating; oblivious rather than aware. Something happens and we respond with a pre-programmed, automatic response – we respond in the way we’ve been taught.
We see conditioning all around us. Look at the high-performance sporting teams that spend hours drilling their players to respond in a certain way when certain conditions arise in the game they’re playing. Look at military colleges that spend hours training their personnel how to respond in situations of high stress. We accept these situations as normal – they’re requirements of the job that these people perform.
What we don’t do is stop and recognise that while these might be specific cases, the reality is that all of us have also been drilled for hours in how to respond – in our own lives. Think about when you were growing up and the way in which you were taught what was right and wrong, good and bad.
Our formative years generally see us being given subliminal conditioning around these five things:
1. The language that is appropriate for us to use – which words are appropriate, whether we’re allowed to use slang and colloquialism, and the way in which we pronounce words.
2. The way in which it is appropriate for us to dress – the types of materials, brands and colours, the cut and hem lengths of garments.
3. The level of education we should achieve – private versus public schooling, university versus vocational qualifications.
4. The class of society that we should live in – we are generally conditioned to remain in the class within which we were born.
5. The types of people we should be associating with – we’re usually steered towards people who are deemed to be a good influence on us, and these people are generally those who encourage us to sit within the boundaries that our conditioning gives to us.
The conditioning is almost always covert, and is often referred to as ‘hidden rules’ within society. What we’re not taught is that this conditioning is different for everyone, and is entirely dependent on the family, friends, community, school, state or province, region and often country you reside in.
Often, the golden rule of this conditioning is to ensure that you conform to society – that you fit in.
But if all of us have received different conditioning, how is it that the concept of conditioning is supposed to assist us in fitting in?
The one thing that we all have in common from receiving this conditioning is this: it forces us to squash ourselves into a shape that is determined as appropriate by someone else. So, we become a smaller version of ourselves.
It also usually follows that once we have squashed ourselves to fit this shape, we then exhaust ourselves trying to live up to the rules that have been given to us about being this shape.
Before we know it, we’ve succumbed to the pressure of trying to live a life that has been given to us by someone else and we spend every day stressed and exhausted, desperately looking for a way out. We accommodate everyone else’s wishes, and meet everyone else’s needs because that’s what we have to do be able to prove that we’re a good person.
We work long hours, grinding away at a job that we probably don’t really like, because that’s what we have to do to prove that we are successful. We fill every second of every day with ‘stuff’ because that’s what we have to do to prove that we are busy.
And while we’re doing all the things we ‘have to do’ and constantly proving ourselves for one reason or another, our mental and physical health suffers. Despite our desperate search for a way out, we dig ourselves deeper and deeper into an existence that doesn’t work for us. We live like this until we die, or until a traumatic event happens that gives us a road out of the desperation.
The fascinating thing about all of this is that there is a very different way to live – and it is no harder than learning to ask yourself a few simple questions.
Somewhere along the way, our lives have spun out of control and we’ve been handed a set of rules that no longer serve us. A set of rules that means that we no longer understand our own value, in our own lives. We’re so busy being conditioned that none of us have stopped to ask whether the rules are relevant any more.
To put it another way, are those rules actually adding value to our lives … or are they subtracting years from our own longevity?
It’s time for us to start asking questions that help us to determine what is right for our lives. Remember that every day is full of choices … and more importantly, understand that living your life the way you are is a choice – you are choosing to live as you do.
So, you choose – do you want to continue living a life that has been given to you by someone else, or do you want to start choosing your own adventure? It all comes down to how you answer one simple question … ‘What value do you place on your life?’
Want more info? There are loads of tips and tricks on living and thinking differently in my book ‘Keep It Super Simple’ – you can buy a copy from www.sheiqlife.com/shop.
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