I have full blown arguments with my little brother. We argue on space, on God, on life, on chocolate bars and even on Brussel sprouts. The thing about our arguments is that we never come to an agreement, not because we’re right or wrong but because we’re both stubborn. We’re so stubborn that we’ll stick to our arguments no matter what. It’s an ego thing. We both have high egos and when our egos clash there’s an earth quake. Sometimes even our parents have to get involved.
Accepting we’re wrong when we are is like jumping into a well filled with poisonous snakes on purpose and neither of us is willing to do that. Maybe because if we do, we’ll have to hear it for the rest of our lives.
But there was this one argument I had with him that just messed me up because I had built my entire existence around it. He was right, but I didn’t want him to be right. And that screwed me over. It made me rethink my entire life. I was having a midlife crisis with full blown anxiety mixed with panic attacks which were slowly leading to depression.
We argued on human conditioning. Human conditioning is when you condition someone a certain way, either by making them believe in something or by making them repeat an action. Like ringing a bell in school to tell kids class has ended. I remember as soon as I would hear the bell, even if it wasn’t the end of class, I would start packing my bags. Another example is conditioning your kids to do well on their exams. They know if they do well, they’ll gain a prize. So, you’re conditioning them to do well.
According to him there is no such thing as human conditioning. It’s all self-conditioning. It didn’t make sense to me in the beginning, but later it hit me like an explosive bomb and it shook my entire existence.
He told me that every form of conditioning I have in me is because I conditioned myself to do it. Not my parents or my teachers or society (that blew away my mind). I’ve lived my entire life believing that I am the way I am because everyone else conditioned me to be that way.
According to him and his philosophy professor there might be an external force that might ignite the conditioning or might start it, but at the end it all lies in your hands. At the end you decide to be conditioned.
“But what about children?” I tried arguing with him.
“Yes. But every living thing that can think for itself knows what’s right and wrong. Children might not know it in the beginning, but they understand later on. If humans could be conditioned then that would take away imagination and creativity.”
He had a point. We as humans are free yet we limit ourselves. Why? If I wanted, I could easily leave home, go to the Bahamas, get a new job, change my name. Make a new identity. But something was and still is stopping me. I always thought it was my parents but his argument made me realize it was always me. My parents would not be okay with it, but they couldn’t stop me. No one was holding me back. I was stopping me… I was the reason I didn’t do certain things in life. And that reason weighed me down so much that I started to drown in my own thoughts. So, my entire life was based on a lie. A lie that I made myself believe.
All my life I had believed that I was conditioned by my parents, aunts and uncles, teachers and society when in reality I was the problem. I stopped myself from doing certain things. Like studying abroad. Such a simple thing yet I tangled myself thinking that my parents conditioned me not to go. When in reality I was the issue. I was the excuse.
I’m messed up in the head because of me. Yes, people around me have had an influence but at the end I had a choice.
I thought the world was filled with dream breakers and haters but I never realized that the biggest hater and dream breaker I was facing was me.
I still don’t know how to get out of this dilemma. It was easier blaming other people for my misery than blaming myself. I know blaming won’t get me anywhere, but I don’t know how to get out of this. I know I’m limiting myself even now but I don’t know how to break the habit. It’s like I’m going downhill. I’m the reason for my own destruction. How do I break the cycle when I am in the center of it? My little brother would smile reading this knowing that I accepted how right he was (and for the first time I’m glad he doesn’t like reading.)