In my last Love Note, I mentioned that there are many saboteurs of self-love.
One of those saboteurs I wanted to cover with you today is unconscious social conditioning.
Did you know that most psychologists agree that we form most of our core beliefs and behaviors by the age of just 7 years old?
This blew my mind when I uncovered this while researching for one of my talks.
And where do we learn these core beliefs and behaviors? Mostly from our parents, but also our immediate family members, our teachers, religions, our cultures, peers, etc.
We learn beliefs like if you do this you’re good, if you don’t do that, you’re bad. That doing this is right, and doing that is wrong.
We learn that boys should behave one way, and girls should behave a different way.
For example, most fathers feel like it’s their duty to teach their sons how to “be a man”. They are taught to be ambitious, compete to get ahead, dominate, be a provider, take up space, and proudly share their accomplishments.
Young girls are also encouraged to be smart, confident and successful, but also to be sure we stay in touch with our emotions, and to look out for the needs and feelings of others before taking care of ourselves.
We are taught to be confident, but never brag. Be assertive, but only if it doesn’t upset anyone else. Be smart, but no one likes a know-it-all. And make sure that everyone else likes you, but don’t like yourself too much…and certainly don’t love yourself because that would be selfish.
And so, these social norms condition us to abandon ourselves in the process of being sure that we take care of the needs and feelings of others.
These beliefs and behaviors that were modeled to us when we were young girls, by our mothers and grandmothers before them, became subconscious programs that have just been sitting in the background, in our subconscious, running our lives.
And most of us never examine them, much less question them. It’s just the way things are right?
Like the dogs that learned to salivate at the ringing of Pavlov’s bell, our unconscious conditioning keeps us in our programmed lanes of behavior…
…Unless of course, we decide to consciously change our beliefs and behaviors.
Self-love is a conscious choice that only we can make for ourselves. No one can do it for us.
It’s the key to free ourselves from the chains of outdated social conditioning that only serves to prevent us from loving ourselves more.