Social Conditioning

Whether you like to admit it or not much of what you say, do and believe is very heavily influenced by social conditioning. How you are conditioned will vary according to your background but there is much commonality. If you are brought up in Islam that conditioning differs from a “Christian” upbringing. I have used emphasis because many who deem themselves such are more “old testamentarians” than they are Christian. The notion of vengeance and punishment, for example, being sourced in the older book and not Christ’s teachings. Your social conditioning will vary according to race and class. This whole notion of offence stems from social conditioning, because it is this conditioning which provides some kind of framework and justification for being offended. “How dare they do or say that! I am a venerable Professor of Chemistry!” It is social conditioning which conveys some notion of mundane rank or status.

Alone in the jungle at night a hungry leopard will not give one toss about your status, your house nor what car you have in the drive. You will be just a piece of meat upon which it seeks to dine. That is reality, the rest is made up by “society”. And we are conditioned into compliance. If someone is a stuck-up pompous arsehole, it is not done to point this out to them even if it is true. Such a being would get offended if you highlighted their behaviours. We are conditioned to think that their taking offence is to some extent acceptable. It is rude and perhaps nasty to transgress. The leopard would not understand what all the fuss is about. What it would understand is a quarrel with another leopard over your juicy carcass, once it has torn through your designer clothes.

The extent of your social conditioning will vary according to your length of time on planet and in “society” there. The longer you have been, the greater the extent of conditioning you carry. You will not appreciate the extent of this conditioning. Say you are forty, it would take many years, perhaps a decade or more, to undo this social conditioning with its knee-jerk reactions. I am to a large extent outside of society and this enables a more detached view. I can choose whether to engage in a way consistent with social conditioning or not. This is the big difference, choice. I can have a socially conditioned conversation about the weather, I don’t have to.

Very broadly and with exceptions, if you are raised in a lower socio-economic class you will be more impressed with status, whether that status be educational, professional, authoritative or blue blood. If you did not have status growing up, it will be a big thing for you as you mature. You might even seek out status as a measure of your success. Still the leopard won’t give a shit, that is not true, he will later, and you would be in it.

This social conditioning, the common dream / nightmare is a massive barrier to liberation. To cut through is not easy nor instantaneous. And just when you think you have undone some of this conditioning another layer of it raises its ugly head. How do you know who you are under the tonnes of conditioning? You don’t know what is you, and what is conditioned into you.

 You are not your social conditioning.

If you want to find the real you, the social conditioning must go, and it must go without conditions. You can’t just keep the bits you like. Because that is still conditioning. Even weakening your conditioning a little bit enhances choice, freedom is to break it altogether. The journey to find your own authentic essence is a long one and it is there, in that essence, you will find you, perhaps for the first time in your life.

If you want to begin this journey you will need to unpick and undo this terrible and pervasive conditioning. To start you will need to discriminate between conditioned behaviours and your own authentic ones. This is not as easy as it sounds.

As an exercise:

Monitor your interactions with the world and see if you can spot your conditioned responses.

Which ones are borrowed or learned?

What would a hungry leopard make of it?

Social conditioning gives rise to kerfuffle.

Is this kerfuffle real or some conditioning?

What is your true nature, your authentic essence?