Almost from birth, the conditioning process begins wherein our brains “download” what is presented to us – both consciously and unconsciously. Professionals who study how the human brain works – notably Bruce Lipton, Ph.D., a molecular biologist and former professor of medicine at Stanford University – know that from birth to about age 6, our brains are absorbing information like a sponge – mostly unconsciously. According to Dr. Lipton (from The Biology of Belief):
“. . . the child’s sensory systems are fully engaged, downloading massive amounts of information about the world and how it works. . . . By observing the behavioral patterns of people in their immediate environment— primarily parents, siblings, and relatives—children learn to distinguish acceptable and unacceptable social behaviors. It’s important to realize that perceptions acquired before the age of six become the fundamental subconscious programs that shape the character of an individual’s life. . . during this time of accelerated learning, Nature facilitates the enculturation process by developmentally enhancing the subconscious mind’s ability to download massive amounts of information.”
The statement I want to emphasize from Dr. Lipton’s words is: “fundamental subconscious programs that shape the character of an individual’s life.” In other words, much – if not all – of this information resides in our subconscious/unconscious mind and is only accessible if we consciously focus on retrieving it. Many don’t because that part of our mind doesn’t only contain information – it also stores traumatic experiences and the emotions accompanying them – most of which we don’t want to re-experience and/or feel.
In addition, many of our beliefs can become so deeply ingrained and “automatic” that we’re not consciously aware of them – we just accept them as “that’s the way life is.” Some are “ancestral” in nature. By that, I mean they’ve been handed down from generation to generation. Beliefs about money, love, and other expressions of “how life is” are examples.
At this point, you may be asking what all this has to do with possibility. Conditioning by its very nature is “fixed” or rigid, again as demonstrated by our belief that certain things in our lives are “just the way they are.” That statement doesn’t allow for life to be any other way than what we believe it to be. There is absolutely no flexibility, no possibility that life can be any other way when we cling to what we’ve been conditioned to believe without question – whether consciously or unconsciously.
The Fifth Agreement (written by don Miguel Ruiz and his son, don Jose Ruiz) talks about the “power of doubt.” The exact wording of the fifth agreement is “Be skeptical but learn to listen.” In the context of this post, the skepticism needs to be directed toward our belief systems, to “question everything” with respect to them. If they ever were true, they may not be now. As adults, we can scrutinize our conditioning that was automatically “downloaded” when we were too young to do anything but accept it, and determine whether continuing to do so serves us now. If not, we have the power to change it.
If you want to live a life of possibility – instead of inevitability and rigidity – you MUST be willing to explore what disempowering beliefs and emotions are living in your unconscious mind. Why? Because the unconscious mind “runs the show.” According to Dr. Lipton, “The subconscious mind cannot move outside its fixed programs – it automatically reacts to situations with its previously stored behavior responses. AND (here’s the rub), it works without the knowledge or control of the conscious mind. This is why we are generally unaware of our behavior, in fact most of the time we are not even aware that we are acting unconsciously.”
I’ll leave you with a very powerful quote from Joseph Campbell: “The cave you fear to enter contains the treasure you seek.” I personally know this to be true. Entering the “cave” of my unconscious mind and transforming the beliefs and emotions that previously held me prisoner (and sometimes still do) and stifled my creativity has given me immeasurable freedom to create a life I love. And YOU can do that – everyone can. Believe it or not, this process can be exhilarating and fun!