Human conditioning

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.)

18 thoughts on “Human conditioning

  1. Your brother has a point with that humans hold themselves back. But the thing is, that it isn’t the full story. Because when you really should do whatever you want, at some point, someone else would get in your way. And then they wouldn’t want you to go further. So then there would still be someone else holding you back. For example authorities, like police, laws, states etc.
    Of course the decisions to do something about it are in your hand. But it is wrong to say that it is all your fault. Because there are indeed people who get psychologically drilled to follow orders blindly. It happened in history, it happens to this day. It happened in sects, in schools, in society indeed.
    So you weren’t wrong, but your brother also wasn’t wrong. This is when both side have or should have common ground.

    For example, if we would be in a world, in which there would only be good people, who would let you do what you want, then your brother would be totally right. But we aren’t, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many pointless wars in which a lot of people lose their lives. And at least the ones who weren’t involved in the fighting, but died as a cause of it, clearly didn’t decide that they wanted to die. So on that point you are indeed right. That there are things which make us limit ourselves.

    But of course there is the will to accept the manipulation or letting it happen. It is the will which matters, your own will to live, to be free and accept your own abilities, strengths and also weaknesses. So there could be a lot of manipulation from all around you, but you would still stay true to yourself. But not everyone is strong enough and has a strong will and because of this, it is easy to get manipulated into thinking, that everything is open, while it is not. It should be, but others indeed don’t want everyone to have it.

    In which way does this help you with your current situation. I would say, that you are currently at a point where you should accept yourself and fight for your life. This means, that you trust yourself, your instincts and also what you have learned, experienced and so on. But also to be aware of barriers which really aren’t in your hands, at least not at the moment.

    Modern society wants to make us believe that everything is fine and that we are standing in our own way, when in reality it is a half-truth-half-lie. Because most people accept their small existence others put upon them and so it is easy to say, that it is “your” fault to feel the way you feel. Since most other people don’t even go that far, they just accept life as it is presented to them.

    If I would be your teacher and would tell you that the earth is a triangle. And then also your family would say that and the government and maybe even a random guy on the street. Would you then believe that?

    I let this question open in the room. And I hope that you feel a little better. You are a strong soul and you now have to decide for yourself, whether you want to play by others rules or fight for the life you always wanted. I hope you know what you want. It might not be that obvious anymore, since you were trained to think small, so others can play big.

    Stay safe and please don’t make yourself small. You haven’t done much wrong, you just didn’t make this small decision between being all yourself and being what others want you to be.
    Because from my experience, others really can’t stand it when you are too different from them. It did hurt a lot and I also thought it was my fault. I mean I got told that I am the problem quite literally. So it can’t be all sunny, all shiny and happy. Otherwise I wouldn’t have had to walk through hell to survive this long.

    I don’t wish you to walk the path I had to walk. But whatever happens, you are worthy, priceless and I wish you to be strong, brave and that you love yourself. Because I love you for who you are. Although we probably also have a lot of differences and don’t even know each other. But I can tell that you have a good heart and that you understand what others don’t. Don’t let them tell you that you are wrong. It could be them as well. But what matters is, that you love yourself and maybe have some friends or at least someone to be honest with and open. Without fear of judgement, rejection and all that.

    Would you stick to what you experienced, feel and know, when you would realize that everyone else is more or less brainwashed into believing what others want them to believe?

    At least know, that you shouldn’t blame yourself, the only thing you didn’t do so far might be to stand up for your own believe and believe in yourself. Did you never question why somehow everyone else can say something, knows better, but actually noone can really know what really is right or true? So how should they know more than you?

    Either way, I hope I didn’t confuse you completely or worse, did cause more pain and sorrow…
    Don’t be too hard on yourself, you seem like someone who already was too hard to themselves.
    ❤ 💜

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    1. No you have a valid point! like the nazi soldiers. They were manipulated into torturing others. And yes we do have limitations and those limitations sometimes come from other factors. Sometimes things aren’t in our control but our reaction to them is. I would like to know what my brother has to say about this! I’ll keep you updated. And yes I’m always hard on myself. I feel like I push myself until i break and tear apart.

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      1. When I read the first few sentences of your answer, I thought something like: “Oh no… I wrote something wrong again. What have I done…” But then I read the rest and understood, that it wasn’t this way. And the last two sentences also count for me. Because as soon as I think: “Now things are okay and I didn’t do everything wrong in my life” Booom! Something hits me and I am down again, blaming myself for everything again. Even things I can’t even be blamed for.
        And there is a saying: “The more intelligent one indulges.” This is actually very depressing and doesn’t make sense. My aunt recently also had this thought and then sent my mother a post card with something like: “If the intelligent always indulges, then the others will rule.” And then it was obvious that this indulge thing is actually a trick. It can be seen in so many ways, but sadly also could be used as a tool for manipulation. I went through so much confusion and manipulation, that I didn’t care anymore at some point. It seemed, that no matter what I do, I would always be the fool. So in a way I fullfilled the saying, although it wasn’t or shouldn’t be meant like this.
        (I hope this wasn’t too much additional text again. I just can’t really stop writing when I once started. :/ )
        For me it is, as if no matter what I do, there is something holding up a sign or shouting, telling me that it is or will be wrong. And when it doesn’t come, I almost wait for me because it usually comes. And when it doesn’t come, I do it myself, as if it has to be this way. Although I know, that it is wrong and because of the psychological damage which happened to me. Sometimes I feel as if I deserved it, actually almost all the time. Because when I say myself, that it isn’t this way, then often something else tells me that it indeed is. So even a friendly word of someone else who really didn’t want to harm me, could turn into something bad because of all what happened. It feels as if I have to be this way because if not, then things will be even worse, if not for me then for others. Okay…
        And thanks for letting me know about your brothers reaction, but you don’t have to. I just hope that things will get better for us and be good. ❤

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      2. Buddy we’re so alike. I appreciate your comment. I’m like that too. No matter what I do or how many accomplishments I obtain. I feel like it just isn’t enough. I feel like I could do better and I could more. This kind of thinking is bad because it puts a mental toll on you. But regardless, the best way to move ahead is to acknowledge our flaws and try to tame them. I wish you all the best in life!

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  2. Don’t be so ready to beat yourself up. Your brother is right, technically. We all make our own decisions, but there are so many things that can influence us, including the feelings of other people. As one who was manipulated for over a decade, I know something of this. I knew I was being manipulated and I knew I should extricate myself and I even attempted to. But the one who was manipulating was cleverer. I have often thought of that situation, of the other people who were involved and wondered, if I had been stronger how would things have worked out for me, for those other people. You can drive yourself mad if you think too much. It’s good to be aware, but do not ever blame yourself when it isn’t necessary. I know you are a good person. Be good to yourself only then can you be good to others. Tell your bro’ to go back to his philosophies!!! They always sound good, but sometimes….one can argue…..Be well.

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    1. I have driven myself mad thinking about this! I over think everything even if it’s something small. And yes I get manipulated by people easily too, and I try to fight it but it’s hard. You lose brain power over this. I’ll read this to my brother and update you on what he has to say!

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  3. You have a choice when you see that you have options from which to choose. You have a choice when you become conscious of having been manipulated. You have a choice when you realize that your argument is a reaction to emotions that you have become insensitive too. You have a choice to self-reflect and gain self-knowledge. And, not until then. Dr. Bob

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  4. But then you know it’s all your choices yet you will find it hard to change or at least understand why you can’t change let’s say even one behaviour or reaction you do! I say this bcs i’m there 🤣 this was quite a good read dear~ thank you so much Aisha~💝🌸🙈

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  5. Hi All,

    This is her sweet little brother writing. I loved what she wrote and it should be a huge inspiration to everyone.

    To sum up the argument we had, we touched upon the concept of conditioning which is almost the same thing influencing. This a discussion that Philosophers have had for a while. Maslow, for example did believe in it, and he used his dog experiment to justify it (where he rings the bell and dog automatically salivate). Or the example of school bells ringing and students getting up might be an example as well. So the question is, can you actually condition humans to do something you want, does it actually exist?

    I at first had the same belief as my sister until my discussion with my Professor. He didn’t believe in it, but I did. I gave him the example of an abusive parent who punishes his child for not getting good grades, the parent is “conditioning” the child to get good grades or he’ll be punished (which is the reinforcement). So I thought you could reinforce someone to get a desired response. But the thing is, “conditioning” doesn’t always work. Conditioning is basically influence. In the abusive parent example, the child could still chose to get or not to get good grades, if he does, then the “conditioning” was successful but what if he doesn’t get good grades despite the punishment? This shows that this concept of conditioning doesn’t always work so therefore it doesn’t really exist. In order for it to exist, it must work every time.

    For example, there are 2 children who have to deal with a drunk father. Now these 2 children could turn out completely different, one child could be like “my father was a drunk fool so It’s not my fault If I end up like him”. so you could say that the father is encouraging this behavior but the other son could be like “I have to be different than my father because I don’t want to be like him”, you could also say that the father is encouraging this behavior. So since there are 2 different outcomes, it shows that everything depends on you, you have the freedom to chose your path, so there’s really no concept of “influencing” someone since there are many different outcomes.

    There was this one dude we talked about in philosophy who was said “if you give me 2 children, I can make one a righteous man and one a thief, all with the power of conditioning”. My professor told me this would be false because there have been people who were born on a thief’s path but reverted to righteousness. So this proves that it is we who chose, despite all the “influences” and desires, it is we who determine our path. It’s not because you were conditioned to get up when the school bells rings but you chose to set yourself on that path of getting up when the bell rings because what if there’s a student that doesn’t get up? It completely shatters the concept of conditioning. My professor told me a saying, “you can’t create a room full of Einstein’s” because everyone is different, even if you give them the exact (to the point) materials and support, they will still turn out different because there can only be one Einstein, meaning everyone has different capabilities so we can’t be manipulated to be a certain way. The very fact that we have creativity shows us that we have freedom and responsibility.

    Which brings me to my last point that this is a beautiful concept to have because it proves that you are free. No one can manipulate you but you. You alone have the power to decide for yourself. What you thought was a limitation is not really there, it’s quite a liberating thought to have.


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