“I have to see a thing a thousand times before I see it once.” Thomas Wolfe
Most of our beliefs and most of the ways we think and feel about life, I will say 95% of them, are based on the conditioning we got in the first 7 to 10 years of our life. (According to some eastern traditions, it also comes from previous lifetimes. But even if this is true, and there is no way to be sure, it would have been at the very early stages of each of those previous lifetimes. Which means that, either way, it is the same.)
During that period our brain is like a sponge that absorbs everything that appears in our environment, in particular from our parents and grandparents, our first teachers, the kind of society we are born into, the movies, the first experiences.
It is like the brain downloads the information it gets in order to learn how to exist, how to behave, how to relate to life on the planet.
And this conditioning, this programing, is what we use for the rest of our lives.
This is neither a good thing nor a bad thing, it is just the way it is.
Yes, a good* childhood will create, generally, a happier life than an unhappy one, but even in the best of environments, we will still receive all the conditioning our parents got from their parents, which they got from their parents, which they got from the general beliefs that society had; things like what is important in life, who am I, what is truth, what is love, what is the meaning of life. In more or less depth, we all get the basic structure of what life is at the very early stages of life.
But then, if we want to change those patterns, if we realize that our unhappiness is the unhappiness of our parents, if we start to see that what our conditioning tells us about life and the universe, about the individual and society and the existence or non-existence of God – it is not good enough because we see that there is so much more to it. If we begin to realize that life is actually different from what our own conditioning leads us to believe and accept – how do we change?
Or an even better question is: why is it so difficult to change?
Nowadays we have more information than ever. We can go to any bookstore, or even simpler, look on the Amazon website and every book about every philosophy ever written is at hand. We can find self-help books about any subject at all!
There are more courses, educational programs, classes, lectures than ever before about anything one wants to learn.
And even so, we rarely change.
Why is that?
What we learn from a book or a course or a lecture goes into the so-called conscious mind.
But the programing we got early in life is not in the conscious mind, but in the subconscious!
It is like losing a key on the first floor of an apartment but looking for it in the same building, but on the third floor. You will never find it!
We can know all the details of a great and intelligent and amazing philosophy but then, when the moment to use it appears, we will act not from that philosophy but from the childhood conditioning.
Of course, it is good to have the new information, to have the new knowledge. It is more than good; it is fundamental!
We need to study, learn and understand the new ways in which we want to behave and think and feel.
But the thing is that, as important and fundamental as the acquisition of this new knowledge is, it is not enough.
The only way to change a childhood program is by repetition of the new information, of the new knowledge.
Repetition is the key, the master key.
We can read a book and enjoy and love that book, but unless we apply the info from that book in our everyday life over and over and over and then some more, the info will remain as something we know, but not as something we are.
We can think of this process as the rewiring of the mind.
That rewiring never happens because we know something. It only happens when we repeat that knowledge many times in the little moments of our everyday life.
It is not a short process. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes consistency. And it takes an enormous amount of love for that new understanding.
Many people may have the desire, but very few have the capacity to stay with it, reaffirming and reasserting it for a long time. And if we want to change, that is exactly what has to be done. We need to keep that new understanding, that new vision that we got revolving around our mind all day long, bringing it back over and over until that new vision is vibrating within every cell of our body and mind.
And this is the reason why it is so difficult to change. Not because we don’t have the new information, but because we don’t have the consistency, patience and determination to make that new information come alive.
Without these three components, whatever new information we get will remain as something we know, as something we can talk to other people about and even write books about, but it will not change our life.
Yes, change is difficult, but it can be done.
Once the new understanding is there, repetition is the key.
* By good childhood I don’t mean necessarily a rich environment but one that is loving, caring, absent of useless negativity and that gives space to do the little things of everyday life, as opposed to an environment in which everybody is always in a hurry, busy, upset and stressed.