How we live and what we think is largely determined by what was drilled into our heads when we were children. It contained valuable and constructing messages as well as harmful patterns. That’s why, we find it difficult to live in harmony with ourselves.
We are very lucky to have been born in these particular times. We have electricity, which provides us with light, stores, where everything is at our fingertips, hospitals and medicines, which help us stay healthy.
The social, cultural and technological advances passed down from generation to generation allows us to maintain a high comfort of living, with our most important needs being met. Thanks to the phenomenon of social learning, every young person when becoming a member of the society discovers how the world works. He or she doesn’t need to learn everything from scratch by committing all the mistakes that have been made by someone else before.
However, there is a flipside to this condition in which we are as a society. The dark side of the fact that we pass on to our descendants a ready-made model of reality, not always consistent with what reality really looks like. Our way of thinking is designed by what was "drilled" into our heads when we were children. More importantly, these things very often failed to nurture our personal development or even hindered it.
In this article, I want to show you what social programming is and explain some of the destructive mechanisms that it incorporates.
Like a sponge
When we are born, our brain is like a huge sponge with a million empty spaces that will soon soak up tons of information acquired from the environment. The contents of the books that are absorbed by the sponge will determine the person’s outlook on the world when they are adults. As helpless and fully dependent on our parents, we have no influence on what our absorbent mind will be filled with during our childhood years.
In most cases, they will be copies of files that once were put in the empty spaces of the brains of our parents, guardians and teachers. Our way of thinking is the outcome of how those who raise us understand the world. Further in life, it will be shaped by countless thought patterns overflowing us from our TV sets, computers, newspapers, magazines and other mass media.
Until one day, we start to put this unique potpourri filling the once empty spaces of the sponge into our children's minds, thus continuing to pass on our family script that is preached generation after generation, in a more or less modified form.
In order for us to be able to function in the world, our brain needs to be programmed. This doesn’t mean that our entire personality depends on the things that are induced in our minds. Genetic material carries a set of tendencies and preferences that will largely determine our personality. You can say that it is our "true nature". Whether we live in harmony with this nature or not depends to a large extent on the quality of social programs that will settle in our natural neural networks.
Unfortunately, we absorb a lot of social programming through various social channels that on purpose or out of ignorance program an individual in a specific way that quite often is damaging to him or her.
Social programming is the sociological process of training individuals in a society to respond in a manner generally approved by the society and social groups.
The two most commonly used mechanisms of social programming include reward (reinforcement) - punishment and repetition of the same principle/message.
The first one consists in rewarding certain behaviours (i.e. reinforcing them), while punishing others (i.e. suppressing them). For example, obedience at school is rewarded and naughtiness is punished. The second mechanism consists in conveying repeatedly (countless times) certain messages, usually by authority figures, until eventually our mind recognises these messages as irrefutable truth. This mechanism is used, for example, in war propaganda when national media labels one country as an aggressor and another as a victim.
At this point, you might feel defiant and consider yourself immune to such manipulations. I congratulate you on your optimism, unfortunately, in this case, you couldn’t be more wrong. Many studies have shown how easily we submit to various sorts of influence, even when we are aware of their existence. Trust me, the teams of people responsible for creating TV commercials and messages behind them know more about how your subconscious mind works than you will ever know.
Being aware of our susceptibility to social programming is the best way to protect yourself from it. I am aware of the fact that if I watched the evening news for several days in a row, my mood and outlook of the world would change significantly. That's why, I don’t own a TV.
Where will it lead us from here?
The mental condition of the people and the state of the environment clearly show that our society is heading towards... self-destruction. This is tough talk but based on the scientific observations of the falls of previous civilizations. The recently published results of a NASA-funded research indicate two major patterns of a society’s downfall in our history: natural resources misuse and social stratification (growing inequality between the elites and the lower social classes). Sounds familiar?
And this is just the beginning. The world civilization diseases, stress, violence and hunger statistics as well as indicators of many other pathologies are higher than ever before. Many problems of the modern world could be easily solved because we already know all the answers, methods and technologies we need to do so.
If only the huge amount of money spent on wars, space exploration and Olympic Games were appropriated for technologies that would enable us to deal with the most important humanity problems, the condition of our species would probably be a bit better. Unfortunately, due to such a widespread lack of awareness in our society, we seem to fall into even deeper pathologies and risk reaching the point from where there will be no turning back.
It is also a backslide for our personal lives. Living in harmony with oneself in the face of social programming and all these principles, patterns and "obligations" is a big challenge in the modern world. How can you hear your own voice in all this chaos and get some distance to the only "correct" model of life that is forced upon us every step of the way? How can we comprehend this top-to-bottom hardset social narrative that has been imposed on us and limits our possibility of choice?
If you want to unglue yourself from these deeply ingrained patterns and retrieve a "tabula rasa” state of mind, you might need years of self-work. It requires a great deal of courage to think independently and to challenge the so-called obvious truths.
However, taking this road is really worth it as the stakes are high.
At this point, I would like to quote a British philosopher Alan Watts, who quite neatly captured the core of the "disease" that has spread among our culture. Here is a 5-minute video "What's wrong with our culture" with an extract from one of his speeches.
Breaking free from social programming
Finding your own voice, the voice of your heart and intuition, your own truth is, in my opinion, one of our most important (if not the most important) tasks in life. Why? Because only when we know and understand ourselves, we can live in harmony with our nature. And it is only then that most our problems with fear, senselessness, motivation and self-esteem will be automatically solved. We start to feel comfortable in our own skin and we know exactly where we are headed in life.
I really feel that through my work for these last few years I have reached that point. I enjoy a sense of freedom greater than ever before, I decide on my own goals, I follow my vision and I have a large distance to all the things that life "should" consist of and opinions that other people have about me (of course, excluding my close ones). I feel that I am in touch with my inner voice, I listen to my intuition and I know what I want from life. It means that I sometimes do things that are not in line with social norms, which can leave my relatives puzzled or surprised.
Of course, it doesn’t come easy at all. Any unpopular decision that goes against the mainstream thinking evokes some fear of rejection in me.
The need to belong is one of the most basic needs of every human being and it reveals itself through the fear of rejection. This is one of the strongest motivators to conform to the prevailing patterns. We are afraid of loneliness and of becoming or being considered as outcasts. That is why, independent thinking, undermining the accepted patterns and expressing one's own opinion is so difficult these days.
People are afraid of losing their sense of security and will do anything to drag you down to their own level. Therefore, it is crucial to constantly work on your development. When you face the fear of rejection and learn to speak up and say what you think, you can live in harmony with yourself and still build good relationships with others.
The man I was even 10 years ago felt a great need to fit in with the accepted norms and was frantically afraid of rejection. There were a lot of clashing voices in my head, often completely contradictory. These were the voices of my parents, acquaintances, teachers, politicians, figures of authority, and even voices I knew from TV commercials or evening news. Each of these voices strived to manage my life in its own distinct way. Being overwhelmed by so many strikingly different ideas on what I should do in various areas of my life, making informed decisions was simply impossible. Whenever I was about to choose one thing, there went a thought “or maybe I should do something else?”. For a long time, I couldn’t achieve this deep peace of mind that I enjoy now.
One of the most important stages of getting rid of this confusion in my head was to realize how exactly our culture and social programming affect us. When I understood how the Western model of life shapes our way of thinking, it became clear why it is so difficult for me to be content and satisfied with my life. To distance myself from social patterns was a huge step for me towards freedom of mind.
In this article, I want to familiarize you with a few elements of social life, which from my perspective may (but don’t have to) be limiting and destructive for us. I am deeply convinced that blindly submitting to these patterns and considering them as an obvious and inseparable part of everyone's life is often a source of frustration, suffering and many mental and emotional blocks.
Here, I would like to emphasize one more time that despite the fact that this article’s focus is only on the negative aspect of social programming, this phenomenon is not pure evil responsible for destruction of human souls and minds but rather a natural and inseparable element of living in a society. It actually has many good sides that are worth noticing and appreciating. The collective knowledge acquisition means that we don’t need to make the same mistakes that others have already made. We don’t have to experience all this to our cost. Thanks to the ability to learn certain structures and principles so quickly, we can live in a society that provides us with ways to meet our needs, thus making our life more comfortable.
I am aware that the content of this article can naturally trigger your resistance or rebellious response. This is absolutely understandable when you are confronted with an unpopular and controversial opinion. Nevertheless, I am asking you to refrain from judgement for the time being. This topic is too important to be dismissed without a deeper reflection of ideas that simply don’t fit to your view of the world. If, after reading this article, you have any doubts or feel any resistance, please share that in the comments. I feel that we need an active discussion in this area and that it will lead us all to fruitful conclusions and constructive actions.
What you can read here is my subjective opinion. I don’t want you to take my word for it or treat it as received truth. Consider the subsections below as an opportunity to challenge some beliefs that may have seemed obvious to you. To this end, give yourself time for reflection. Turn on independent thinking and see how you are feeling about what you have read.
Just to be clear, I am a music lover (of almost every genre) and I think music is one of the most wonderful means we can use to change our state of consciousness.
At the same time, I find it hard to stand and watch what is being done with the mainstream music, especially pop, which feeds people only with superficial or harmful messages. It’s quite easy to pick up that the most lucrative themes in music industry include partying, taking drugs, flirting, sex, treating women as sex objects and having a broken heart.
Music is an unusual medium that can be a channel for transmitting life's wisdom. Unfortunately, the contemporary pop music mercilessly, bit by bit, corrupts our minds (listening to a single song conveying detrimental messages will not do a lot of damage, but listening to such music every day for a few hours might).
You may say that there is a huge demand for such type of music. That’s true but it is a demand that is largely created. What I remembered most from my 5-year studies in management and marketing is that, through a properly designed and handled communication, one can shape not only people’s attitudes and ways of thinking but also their needs and desires, or even tastes.
As a matter of fact, people tend to like what they are given on a plate. The more money is spent on advertising of particular artists and songs, the more public interest is stirred around them. Exactly the same goes for the film industry, which is the subject of the following subsection.
Apart from being a feast for the senses and a source of delight, film is a highly effective education tool shaping our worldview. You can find many films that are wonderful, important and valuable, nevertheless, the mainstream “junk” movies, focused on an average viewer, often promote destructive and pathological behaviours.
Browsing the high-budget productions of recent years, we can easily identify a set of recurring motives: violence, hatred, betrayal, murder, fear, etc. Just look at the popularity of such series as Game of Thrones or Narcos. Feeding yourself with such films on a regular basis is bound to influence how you see the reality around you.
Another trend can be observed in films for young audience. In this case, the pioneer was the undoubtedly “legendary” American Pie, which showed teens what having good fun should look like. It was followed by other films promoting the same pattern of drinking, partying and having sex.
It is also worth mentioning how, from a psychological perspective, films contribute to creating and perpetuating certain attitudes and behaviours among the society. For example, even though advertising cigarettes on TV is banned, the vast majority of films and TV series show main protagonists, who we tend to identify with, smoking one cigarette after another. Such product placement has a significant impact on our choices and attitudes.
This is confirmed by the research examining the social learning theory such as the Bobo doll experiment. Bobo was a large, inflatable, colorful clown. The children could play with it only after watching an adult model act extremely aggressively (pummel and kick) towards the Bobo doll. Having watched such a presentation, most children followed the behaviour of the adult model (despite the fact that they were not instructed to resort to violence).
Films have exactly the same effect on us, even if we think it’s otherwise. We are programmed for specific points of view, attitudes, behaviours, and even for the way we communicate and react to certain situations. Therefore, I strongly advise you to choose wisely what you watch on cosy autumn evenings or on your movie nights.
"Even when looking through rose-coloured glasses, we can see that it is perfectly normal to show on TV people fighting and killing each other, instead of people loving each other, except for those who express it in rather restrained ways. It can be concluded that the underlying assumption here is that the physical expression of love is much more dangerous than the physical expression of hatred."
In this area, the disarray is probably more serious than elsewhere... I have already written about 13 mistakes in the education system on this blog and it is still one of the most read entries. Let me quote a short excerpt from my book "Insight. Road to Mental Maturity":
"Our education system is based on many false assumptions, which lead to "corrupting" the personality of thousands of young absorbent minds. The currently operating education system was created 200 years ago in Prussia for the needs of the industrial economy prevailing in the past centuries. Interestingly, the system’s originators themselves were totally unsatisfied with the final form of their ideas being implemented. However, they had to submit to the pressures of the Church and the army. Education system in this form aims at training people incapable of independent thinking, who will conform and obediently work for a dynamically developing economy.
This applies, of course, to every stage of education, not only elementary school. System that is supposed to teach, develop and inspire seems to discourage pupils from learning more than anything else. The education system, as it is now, "produces" people who won’t be able to challenge or rebel against the status quo and who will remain just pawns in this game.”
More similar opinions about the education system have emerged and are still quite popular. Some of them are more balanced, some are more radical. I am a supporter of the latter. For example, according to a well-known American linguist, philosopher and political activist Noam Chomsky, education is a system of indoctrination of the young, designed for obedience and passivity, to prevent people from becoming creative and independently thinking members of the society. In my opinion, it’s good to discuss openly what is going on in education because many practices currently being introduced are unacceptable. If we feel too intimidated and act too cautiously in putting forward potential changes, our voice won’t become strong enough to be heard and do something about it.
School curricula are one of the most important means of social conditioning. This might be the reason why education is compulsory and enforced by law almost all over the world. As far as my research goes, there is only one (sic!) country without compulsory schooling - Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. I am definitely going to visit this place one day.
"Give me the youth, and Germany will rule the world."
It is, most of all, at school that we learn how the world works. For example, we learn about Spanish explorers who discovered America. Nobody, however, mentions the genocide of Native Americans, which can be compared to the Holocaust. So, what we are handed on a plate are biased opinions and views, which are instilled in our heads (literally under coercion: if we don’t abide, we will be kicked out of school).
School is a way of dismissing individuals who are rebellious enough to resist social programming (they end up on the streets, pushed at the margin of society). If you try to defy the system, you will almost certainly be cast aside or labelled as stupid or limited in intellectual development.
As Alan Watts stated in the film shared earlier, television is an electronic reproduction of life which can’t be touched, doesn’t smell and has no taste.
I think there is no need to elaborate on the damaging effect of this device as more and more people are consciously giving up watching telly. It is true, however, that sitting in front of the TV screen is now being replaced by sitting in front of a different monitor to surf the Internet. We assume that the web allows us to choose the information we assimilate. This assumption is largely false: the Internet is another effective (actually much more effective than television) tool for social conditioning, but it’s a topic for a separate article.
You probably know that, as 90% of coverage on evening newscasts is negative news, our minds are being programmed to look at the world through the prism of this negativism. The range of perspectives on reality that we get on television is extremely narrow, because the whole media market is owned and hogged by just a few private companies that have a direct impact on the content and the message they generate.
The aforementioned Noam Chomsky once said that the basic function of mass media is to create public support for the interests of governments and private sector. This can be easily noticed while browsing TV channels that are in favour of a particular political party and back its interests. If you understand English and want to learn more about it, check out this short video which discusses 10 media manipulation strategies according to Noam Chomsky.
Another paranoia is, in my opinion, the fact that the really important world issues are neglected in favor of superficial and cheap entertainment. What people are given on the plate are Olympic Games and reality shows, while valuable documentary films and news on world hunger or acres of cut forests are broadcasted on less known channels, somewhere far down the list. And while the lungs of our planet are mercilessly polluted, we watch the celebrities dance on ice. Below a photo from Brazil, where since 1970, over 270,000 square miles of rainforests have been cut down. Between 2000 and 2006, the forest area of 60,000 square miles (more than the size of … Greece) was destroyed there.
Poznań, my hometown, is on the top of the list of Polish cities in regard to the number of shopping centers ( there are 19 of them here altogether). The popularity of shopping malls is a sign of the times in a sense that we have turned to accumulation of material things as a way to solve all our problems.
We owe it largely to Edward Bernays, the Austrian-American pioneer in public relations and propaganda (at the beginning of the last century, the term "public relations" replaced the word "propaganda" because the latter evoked negative connotations). Bernays for the first time used Freud's theories of human nature to manipulate the masses. By showing how corporations can link products with unconscious desires, he taught the corporate world decision-makers how to make people want things they did not need in the first place. I know, it sounds like some sort of conspiracy theory... but that was the rise of the advertising era. If you want to learn more about Bernay and better understand the history of advertising, be sure to check out the award-winning documentary by Adam Curtis "The Century of Self".
Edward Bernays in his book "Propaganda" wrote: “A single factory, potentially capable of supplying a whole continent with its particular product, cannot afford to wait until the public asks for its product; it must maintain constant touch, through advertising and propaganda, with the vast public in order to assure itself the continuous demand which alone will make its costly plant profitable.”
However, there’s more to it. If corporations are to get rich, they have to find a way not only to make people buy a product, but also to make them keep buying it. At this stage of technology development, it shouldn’t pose any difficulty to produce devices that will be reliable, durable and usable for years. It turns out, however, that reality is still very far from it. I have owned six or seven printers throughout these last few years, as each time I had it repaired, I would hear the same line: "It will pay off to buy a new one rather than repair this one".
It turns out that printers are programmed in such a way... that they just break down after a certain period of time. This is called "planned obsolescence". In 1924, companies like Osram, Philips and General Electric agreed to produce light bulbs with a lifespan of maximum 1,000 hours (instead of 2,000 hours up to then). Another example of this light bulb theory can be found in an article published by The Economist (link) - this one concerns a nylon stocking. The constant snagging forced women to purchase new stockings over and over again.
Think about the tragic consequences this has on our planet. Manufacturing new electronic equipment, clothes and other goods requires a lot of energy and resources, which our environment is slowly running out of. A 2013 research by German scientists showed that all the damage in home appliances and electronics resulting from the planned obsolescence cost this country several billion euros per year. And there’s more! Millions of tons of electronic waste are dumped in Africa (in the picture below you can see a technological garbage dump in Ghana). Many of them contain leaking toxic substances that pollute the environment and pose a threat to the local people’s health.
In cases where it is difficult to implement planned obsolescence, there are other ways to motivate a consumer to make repeated purchases. Seasonal merchandising in the fashion industry is a great example. The more opportunities to buy different garments depending on the season, the colour that’s “in”, the latest trends and the role of the outfit, the higher profits for the clothing company. It's normal for these companies to bend over backwards to convince consumers that they must have a new attire for every occasion and every season. People who want to build their self-esteem by fitting into the prevailing trends are the easiest target for the fashion industry.
Let’s not forget about the systemic cruelty of meat and dairy industry. I am a vegetarian, but I respect the choices of people who eat meat. There are many places where you can buy meat of animals that were kept in decent conditions. What I cannot accept is the cruel and brutal treatment of animals in the assembly-line meat factories, where these living creatures are abused and slaughtered for the sake of efficiency and profit.
“We are slaves with white collars, advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need.”
Think about what you spend your money on these days. Do you really need all these things? Do you contribute to saving our planet or destroying it? What affects your purchase decisions?
Drug policy is another example of how confused we can get about what is good and healthy for us.
In 2010, The Lancet, a scientific medical journal (one of the world's longest-issued magazines), published a study, which was about to determine the degree of harmfulness of 20 drugs (legal and illegal). Here are the results:
Interestingly, alcohol is the most dangerous drug that is not only fully legal but also an integral part of our cultural and social life. At the same time, governments consider substances such as hallucinogenic mushrooms and LSD, which are at the very bottom of this table, as the most harmful drugs.
Currently, many studies are being run on the LSD and mushrooms psilocybin application in the treatment of various mental disorders, including deep treatment-resistant depression. More and more opinions (from scientists like David Presti, the professor of neuroscience at the University of California) can be heard that, with depression, applying microdoses of LSD is safer than using psychotropic drugs (the voice of). Moreover, a hallucinogen MDMA (commonly known as "ecstasy") is currently undergoing the 3rd phase of clinical trials in the treatment of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). It turns out that such therapy proves to be more effective than the previous treatment methods. Specially trained psychotherapists are soon to be allowed to legally use MDMA for therapeutic purposes.
Psychedelics should not be taken for fun as they can induce trips very deep into the world of our minds. Without the necessary knowledge and preparation, such experience can be extremely difficult and sometimes even traumatic. If, however, we attend a professional psychedelic session, supervised by a trained specialist, such a journey into ourselves may enable us to, in a way, go beyond our own "selves". When we experience a dismantling ego and want to free ourselves from imprinted patterns, we can heal our minds on many different levels. According to some scientists, a single psychedelic session can replace months of regular psychotherapy.
For some reason, we are kept away from these natural psychoactive substances that are an inseparable part of our natural world (they can be traced in San Pedro cactus, an African plant called Ibogaine, or in Ayahuasca, a popular decree prepared by the Amazon jungle shamans). According to the book "Stealing Fire", psychopharmacologists have been watching for years animals that use psychoactive substances (dolphins relish in puffer fish, goats eat psychedelic mushrooms, birds chew marijuana seeds, and elephants get drunk on fermented fruits).
An American psychopharmacologist, Ronald Keith Siegel, said that "looking for and eating drugs are biologically normal behaviors … in the sense that pursuit of intoxicants in animals world is a rule rather than an exception." Researchers also asserted that such behaviours give animals a significant evolutionary advantage, as drug intoxication can serve as means of “depatterning". This is a way for animals to let go of the habitual behaviours which they get used to, just like us - humans.
Extensive research shows that the therapeutic potential of these substances can be also applied to the human species. I had the opportunity to use hallucinogens legally and I totally believe in their therapeutic potential.
Fortunately, the change is in the air. Marijuana, which according to the study is 114 times safer than alcohol, is already legal in some US states. Poland still has to do a lot of catching up in this area, so for the time being, those who are interested in exploring their minds in this way can take a trip to Amsterdam.
Everyone should be free to decide what he or she does with his or her body and mind. It is absurd that the use of alcohol, which in large doses can cause (and notoriously does cause) death is fully legal, while hallucinogenic mushrooms or LSD, which no one ever died of, are still illegal.
Drop in the ocean
How do you feel after reading these examples of social conditioning? Think about it for a moment. Do you feel like defying or denying these ideas? Or maybe you feel intimidated and insecure? Have these pieces of information surprised you or have you rather reacted with "I knew it!".
Regardless of what feelings this article has triggered in you, you need to know that all this is just a drop in the ocean of this sort of practices. There are many layers of "social matrix" and I could write about it for hours and, still, I think this would be just the tip of the iceberg. We could go on and on about the mechanisms prevailing in the areas of health care, dietetics, nutrition, politics, a socially recognized family model, and many many more. If you are particularly interested in any of them (or would like me to elaborate on the ones that I've already touched upon in this article), let me know in the comments - I would gladly write some more about it.
How does social conditioning affect our lives?
- We spend money on things that we don’t really need, money that we could otherwise spend on things that might actually be good for us.
- We waste time on activities that don’t bring anything positive to our lives.
- We engage in activities that are harmful to us on many levels (fast-food, alcohol consumption).
- We are headed for mental disorders that result from from our internal conflicts between what we really feel and think in our inner selves, and what we “should” feel and think.
- We become isolated because of the atmosphere of distrust and artificial distance we create in our relationships with others.
- Interestingly, the "modern" lifestyle is so hostile and aggressive towards human nature that even if we don’t try to get out of the system, our subconscious finds various (unfortunately, often destructive) ways to break free from it. The following quote puts it very eloquently:
“Addiction, self-sabotage, procrastination, laziness, rage, chronic fatigue, and depression are all ways that we withhold our full participation in the program of life we are offered. When the conscious mind cannot find a reason to say no, the unconscious says no in its own way.” Charles Eisenstein
Light in the tunnel
When writing this article, my intention wasn’t to convince anyone that "society sucks" and we should all go to a desert island and start there from scratch (however, I admit this alternative is tempting...). Conscious living within this society in harmony with ourselves is very much doable but not always easy. If we keep distance to the above mentioned "pathologies" of the Western model of life and see the big picture, we can follow our own paths, setting ourselves free from the harmful external influence.
Even more importantly, I don’t want to point to the alleged culprits here, because, from my point of view, the whole thing is not so simple. That’s why, I am not going to tell you that it is the government’s fault, or some evil plot against humanity, or the result of the politicians’ sheer stupidity, or a completely natural process of societies’ evolution.
Of course, finding the answer to this question is important, but at this stage it is far more necessary to realize that we can be free from all of this. At least to some extent, as there are elements of social life that you obviously cannot escape (for example, a compulsory levy commonly referred to as taxes).
"Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds."
So, taken it all into account, how can you break free from social conditioning? How to shake off these deeply ingrained ways of thinking that have been with you for many years and governed your entire life? How can you find your own voice and start living in peace with yourself?
In the future, I intend to write a separate text about it (let me know in the comments if that’s what you need), but for the time being I would like to share with you some simple tips that will help you slowly distance yourself from destructive social patterns:
- Don’t assume that you are beyond the influence of social conditioning. Firstly, this isn’t possible, and secondly, it only makes you less alert and aware of this influence, and consequently more subject to it.
- Challenge the figures of authority. The fact that someone is a politician, a priest, a pop star or a doctor of social sciences doesn’t mean that they have a monopoly on truth. Everyone thinks they know the secret to life, but no one really owns universal answers to the most important questions. Always look for answers in yourself, because what is right for someone else doesn’t have to be right for you.
- Question your reactions, habits and beliefs. Don’t assume that the way you have been taught to live is the only right way. There are hundreds of possible scenarios for your future and the more you free yourself from the path that has been imposed on you, the greater the chance that you will find your own path.
- Travel. This is the best way to understand how culture affects our psyche. Only in this way will you be able to see the reality around you from a completely different perspective.
- Limit your media consumption. The less you bombard your mind with partial opinions, the more open you stay to various possibilities.
- Work on your empathy. If you want to free yourself from a narrow view of the world and enrich your standpoint, open up to other people’s stories, establish deeper relationships with others and learn from everyone who have a different perspective on life.
I’m really glad that you have managed to get to the end of this article. It’s a long text, but while writing it, I had a strong feeling that this is just the beginning of a larger discussion on this topic. What I write next time depends on you. That's why I encourage you to scroll down this page and leave your comment there. Describe your feelings, no matter of what kind they are. Thank you for that. I also suggest that you read the comments which have already been shared. They bring a lot to the discussion and will certainly inspire further reflections.