If I asked you to jump on the bed right this very moment, would you be able to do it?
I mean really do it, without stopping to take your shoes off… without thinking for even one split second prior to taking the first step towards the bed?
Most of you will instinctively stop first, think about your shoes, the bed, the sheets… your eyes would probably wander from one to the other… even if you pause for just a brief moment, it would feel awkward – perhaps even uncomfortable and unsettling – to dive onto the bed as is. Interesting, huh? So, why is this?
According to dictionary.com, “conditioning” (also called operant conditioning, instrumental conditioning) is a process of changing behavior by rewarding or punishing a subject each time an action is performed until the subject associates the action with pleasure or distress. Also called classical conditioning, Pavlovian conditioning, respondent conditioning. a process in which a stimulus that was previously neutral, as the sound of a bell, comes to evoke a particular response, as salivation, by being repeatedly paired with another stimulus that normally evokes the response, as the taste of food.
This is but a very small example of human conditioning. It is a trivial example at best… but just goes to show us how conditioned and programmed we are. We may not even remember the first time we were told to “take our shoes off” or not to “jump on the bed with shoes on.” This begs the question, when and how did this occur to us? When did we learn that removing our shoes was what we were “supposed” to do and why is it we are “supposed” to do this? What would be the harm in keeping our shoes on? We can always wash the sheets and comforter, no? Was this our opinion we have been following, or someone else’s? If our parents told us to take our shoes off, and not to put them on furniture, was that their opinion or did they learn it from someone else? How far back does this “rule” go?
In life, we are “programmed” to attach to certain ideas, ideals, and guidelines. We walk around, conditioned to believe certain things, and we may not even realize this. Do we believe in all the ideas we carry with us, or are we just mindlessly regurgitating what has been passed on to us without thought? It’s certainly something worth pondering!
Try this exercise:
Take a few moments to reflect on your own life. What ideas, beliefs or patterns of behavior do you carry with you due to conditioning? Once you identify some, do these ideals resonate with you, do you even believe in them, and most importantly, do they serve you? What are some steps you can take to wipe the canvas clean and develop your own patterns that are in alignment with your truth?