Social Conditioning is Destroying your Life

The title says is all: Social conditioning is destroying your life. 

The weight of expectations of the world around you is crushing your soul and morphing your empty shell of a life into a vast and barren wasteland, littered with decaying promises of a more hopeful future and 1000 broken dreams.

But not in the way you think it is… Let me explain.


What is social conditioning?

According to Wikipedia, it’s the sociological process of training individuals in a society to respond in a manner generally approved by the society in general and peer groups within society.

This mindset is forced upon you by your peers, your parents, and the ever-present bombardment raining down upon you from your friendly local media outlets in the form of magazines, print, TV, and internet advertising.

Together, they paint a picture of the kind of person you’re supposed to be:

  • The driven and motivated businesswoman who’s put her family life on hold in the pursuit of an empowering life climbing the corporate ladder
  • The fierce and proud warrior who’s iron will and brute strength is capable of defeating even the most evil of villans
  • The beautiful and feminine princess who’s so sensitive and feminine that she really can feel the pea through those 31 mattresses
  • The successful and power businessman with a $3760 Armani suit and a new BMW
  • The blonde haired temptress dancing through a field of native grasses with a devilishly handsome man with an impossibly square jaw longingly pursuing her new perfume

Or whatever images the world seems fit to feed you…


How does it effect your life?

It’s these images of success, happiness, and completion that are forced upon you every day that are the key cog in the world of social conditioning.

With enough repetition throughout your day – on the side of a bus as you wait to cross the lights, in the ad break between the rerun of your favourite TV show, in the magazine in the doctors studio as you drop in for your monthly checkup – these images and slowly and surely forced inside your brain until you have no choice but to want to live up to them.

Or do you have a choice?


Two sides of a coin

Despite what the American legal system seems hell-bent on convincing you, in almost any situation you’ll go through throughout your entire life, there are elements that are within your control and elements that are outside your control.

  • You can control how long you study and how effectively you study. You cannot control the questions that are in the exam in front of you.
  • You can control what you say to a person. You cannot control how they respond to your communication.
  • You can control how dedicated, committed and how driven you are at work. You cannot control whether or not your bosses choose you for a promotion.

I could keep going here but it’s not necessary. There’s a simpler way to explain it:

The elements that you can control are related to how you relate to and how you engage the world. They’re the decisions you make and the actions and non-actions you take.

The elements that are outside your control are everything else. You cannot control what others think, you cannot control what they do, you cannot control how they respond to your decisions and actions, and you cannot control the physical environment around you.

Have you guessed where this is going yet? It should be obvious by now: I want you to apply this idea to the problem of social conditioning.

When the world demands that you act a certain way, pursue a certain goal, and style yourself after one of a group of famous celebrities, what elements are inside your control and what elements are outside your control?

  • Can you control what advertising appears on TV?
  • Can you control what stories are printed in magazines?
  • Can you control what your peer group talks about during your lunch break?

No, I can’t either. But…

  • Can you control what advertising you watch?
  • Can you control what stories you read in magazines?
  • Can you control how you hang out with on your lunch break?

And most importantly…

  • Can you control what you choose to do with the information provided to you by the world around you?

You are not an impotent and passive recipient of social conditioning. You are not forced to be or do anything you don’t want to be. You are not controlled by some evil force that’s attempting to transform you in a socially acceptable creature of least resistance.

You are a powerful and competent human being that’s consuming the information presented by the great media machine and then taking conscious and deliberate action to meet the standards dictated by society.

You’re not forced to. You’re not made to. No-one has injected you with a mind -control serum and is forcing your mind and your body to work without your permission.

You are taking the information that’s been given to you and using it to live a half life built on the dreams and desires of those who want you to use money you don’t have, to buy goods you don’t need, to impress people you don’t like.


“But I thought you said social conditioning was ruining my life!”

It is, but not in the way you think.

Social conditioning isn’t ruining your life by making you live a life that leaves you feeling empty and disillusioned when you wake up and frustrated when you go to sleep at night.

Social conditioning is ruining your life when you blame it for you less than satisfactory existence.

When you blame the images and stories you see during the ad breaks of your favourite TV show for your mediocre job and your general sense of hopelessness, you’re robbing yourself of the power to transform your life.

By denying the role you played in getting to where your life is now, you’re eliminating your ability to change it. After all, if you didn’t create the problem, you can never hope to fix it. All you can every hope to do is manage the problem every time it happens to you.

It’s only once you start taking full responsibility for what you contributed to the problems you’re facing that you’ll ever be able to solve the problem.


So that’s how social conditioning is ruining your life: when you blame social conditioning for your life situation, you eliminate any possibility of being able to take your life from where it is not to where you want it to be.


Why is this important?

Despite what you might be thinking, no, I’m not just telling you this because I just wanted you to feel bad.

There’s actually a very important and very powerful point to all this:

If you believe that social conditioning is to blame for your lack of self awareness and intimacy with your hopes and dreams, then the best life you can ever hope to live is one where you can quickly and easily manage the problems that the world throws at you.


If you understand that the world doesn’t make you do anything; that it’s actually YOU who’s responsible for where you are now and you who can take you to where you want to be, then you have the power to change.

Instead of just coming up with more intricate and quicker ways to deal with your problems and challenges every time they appear, you can actually eliminate them from the core by eliminating what you’re contributing to the issues you face.

You can live your life on your terms, regardless of what the world says you should and shouldn’t be doing.


“But how???”

This is the million dollar question: how?

How do you stop doing what you’re told? How do you break out of the mould and start to become the kind of person you’ve always dreamed of?

The first step simple: understanding that everything you do, you do for a reason.

You don’t just follow the images and rules you’ve been told are right because you woke up one day and decided that it was a good thing to do. You do it because there’s something in it for you.

You might do it because you get to feel accepted, or important, or safe, or protected, or included, or something or something or something. Whatever it is for you, there is a desire that lies behind your social compliance.

The second step is also simple: find that desired experience through another source.

Do you follow societies rules because you want to feel like part of the group? What if you joined a group that only accepted people who didn’t follow societies rules? How would that change this issue of ‘social conditioning’?

Do you do what you’re told because you want to feel like you’re a worthy person? What if you found a way to feel worthy and significant that involved standing up for what you believe in regardless of what other people tell you to do? How would that change this issue of ‘social conditioning’?

Stop being Dependent and start being Independent.

You don’t have a problem with social conditioning – you have an ineffective Script.

Your mechanism for creating the experience you desire is ineffective and leaves you feeling empty at the end of the day.

Eliminating the issues that come from social conditioning involves simply finding a new way to create your desired experience that doesn’t leave you relying on elements that are outside your control.

And when you do, social conditioning will stop ruining your life.


3 Replies to "Social Conditioning is Destroying your Life"

  • J
    June 20, 2014 (1:01 am)

    “Social conditioning isn’t ruining your life by making you live a life that leaves you feeling empty and disillusioned when you wake up and frustrated when you go to sleep at night.

    Social conditioning is ruining your life when you blame it for you less than satisfactory existence.”

    I’m just using that quote as an example of the general theme, but doesn’t the fact that someone could be left feeling empty and disillusioned evidence that he is not fully in control? Why would someone choose to take a course of action (e.g., blaming social conditioning) that leads to feeling empty or disillusioned? If it’s a matter of ignorance, why would he choose to be ignorant in such a way that would lead him to take a course of action that left him feeling empty and disillusioned, etc., etc.?

    • Leigh
      August 29, 2014 (9:52 am)

      The simple answer is that he’s either not consciously aware of what he’s doing or that he’s not aware that there’s a better way (the first one usually preludes the second). It’s the reason why I followed those unproductive paths and the same reason that a lot of guys still follow them.

      The good news is that there’s a way out now – so help out by sharing this with anyone you know who’s struggling with it.

      Knowledge is the first step.

  • Marian
    January 6, 2015 (1:31 am)

    We could really use a forum for vedanism. Is there something on the way already ?
    Anyways, I’m a big fan! 🙂

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