Elsa Franco Al Ghaslan
Friday 20 July 2012
Last Update 20 July 2012 5:17 pm
You open a newspaper or a magazine, you watch TV or listen to the radio, you are on the Internet … Have you noticed how much and how often you are lured to buy any kind of “stuff,” with the offer of paying later, by installments, with a mortgage etc.?
Some people believe that such a system is very useful while others don’t. As in all decisions that people make, also in this case it mostly depends on how a person has been raised and, consequently, on the ideas that were instilled into their mind. In a word, it all depends on their “conditioning”. i.e. what we have been told, what we have heard, the sort of “brainwashing” we have received since a very young age. It might have been a positive conditioning or a negative one.
My friend F.’s personal “useful” conditioning comes to my mind, which has been of capital importance throughout all her life. She tells me she can still hear her father’s voice when he used to say: “Beware of debt. People should never buy anything unless they have all the money they need to make the purchase”. As a consequence, F. has always abhorred the idea of either borrowing money or postponing payment, thus she never did. She doesn’t say that buying by installments is wrong, because some people seem to benefit from such a system. Unfortunately others use it unwisely and end up bankrupt. As far as “she” is concerned, my friend believes she wouldn’t be able to sleep at night, knowing that she might be in debt.
As an example of “destructive” conditioning, I remember another friend of mine, M., who used to tell me how her stepmother, when she was young, kept saying to her: “Shut up. You don’t understand anything!” How awful. She grew up with a complete lack of self-esteem and self-confidence, which it took her a long time to get rid of (once she became aware of the problem).
What about you? Can you recall some episodes when one of your parents, a relative, a spiritual figure, a teacher or an older friend said something to you that has had a great impact on your life? This could be a very useful exercise. It might also help you remember, in case you had forgotten. It might become clearer to you why you have certain strong, unchangeable beliefs. Once you identify them, you will also understand why you always behave in a particular way in specific circumstances, or why you never bring yourself to doing something that seems quite acceptable to others.
You may be willing to go back in time and start examining your life from yet another perspective. Do you remember overhearing someone say about you: “She is rather fat, isn’t she?” or “He is quite short. Too bad!” or even “He is not too clever (/ as clever as his brother)”? Such words might have left a mark in your memory and a wound in your inner self. Consequence? You might have developed a lifestyle that actually made you be overweight because you believed that “this is the way you are supposed to be”. Therefore you always had to fight with diets that never worked (and you couldn’t understand why!). Going a bit further, you might realize that, even if your weight was normal, you couldn’t help seeing yourself as “fat”.
You might have never achieved the success you wished for because, deep inside, there still was that subtle mean voice whispering “You are not smart enough!”. Conditioning is a very strong force. Once it is well installed in your mind, it becomes a deeply rooted belief and it literally creates the way you see yourself and others. If your mother used to criticize a family acquaintance, you haven’t been able to perceive such person under a different light, even if you had a different experience in dealing with them. The good news is that, no matter how strong a conditioning might be, once you become aware of it, you can — like my friend M. — get rid of it and… add another little useful change to your life.
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