When we are young, our natural state of being is relaxed and highly observant. We are sponges, absorbing every bit of information we can from the environment around us. We gather information—most of it unconsciously—that is exclusively tuned to our survival. We do not ‘learn’ as much as we ‘absorb’ new realities.
In a similar function, we have genetic coding for the physical attributes of our bodies. This inherited coding is also determinant of our temperament, motivation, and the information we absorb unwittingly. As individuals, we subconsciously alter this code through our individuality and our experience to make what we assume to be new definitions of survival. Our personal history, experience, and environment interweave with who we are, combining to create an identity we call self.
The initial bombardment of sensory information discussed earlier can become the first in a series of factors teaching us to limit our perception and shut down the sensory advantage of new developments in the brain. As a result, we then fall back to the familiar already existent patterns of our families.
The ‘learn from your elders’ approach commonly used in our upbringing is a perfect example of this limitation. Through these processes, we learn to dismiss our individual genius, ignore our feeling body, and ultimately count on others’ information over the intuition of our personal impression.
Our first stages of development are not an experience of choice. They are the results of an unconscious writing of definition, not just of reality but also of ourselves. They become our identity. Children do not get to choose how to behave, what to do next, or even who to be. We are not developmentally mature enough to even know how to choose. Choices are black and white and consist only of the consciousness available in our caregivers. You can do this or that, one or the other, but not anything else. We are trained into boxes and taught to ignore whole realms of possibility, realms we might perceive as a vital connection to who we think we are. As we learn these limitations to be definitions of survival, we must also learn to ignore the inherent safety of infinite possibilities and inspiration. Living by pre-established rules becomes our primary rule for survival.
Few of us recognize the nature of our relationship to the world. Even children who grow up in dangerous environments are generally not conscious of that danger. The experience naively becomes a world definition. We become desensitized and often dehumanized, and we accept this characterization of ourselves as if it were fact.
Try to imagine yourself surrounded by an immense ‘thought bubble.’ In it is every encounter you have ever experienced along with the events of your friends, family, and entire ancestral line. In includes your spiritual community, country, neighborhood, and tribe—however you decide to define them. Think of this bubble as your reality. This box of perception is your primary rule of safety and is why you will often repeat unhealthy patterns. We recurrently keep ourselves in potentially harmful situations—unhealthy diets, relationships, or financial circumstances, for example—because we feel more threatened by the opposing choice of believing anything is possible. We do this even when the only real threat is in not knowing there is another choice.
We often surround ourselves with people who agree with our rules. Many of our relationships are just exhibiting immature patterns that can be centuries old passed down from parent to child in an unconscious desire for safety. We are not aware of our lives being anything but what all life must be. So, as we begin to choose, we do so unconsciously, and we do it in a way that has no real power.
The state of feeling powerless is hazardous at any age. When we feel powerless, we treat consciousness like a rabbit would treat, leaving its burrow. When rabbits first leave the rabbit hole, they do so gradually. They only go far enough to establish a boundary. This barrier is based upon knowledge of a safe return. Over time, the horizon extends, but never beyond the place where they have a return path planned. Their flight from a predator is never random. It is a clearly designed path to safety. Our minds return to the familiar DNA patterns of our past in the same way as a response to the smallest hint of threat. It is the nature of all animals to choose safety, which is wise until the function of that safety becomes the threat itself.
As a primal species, we fall back to match the societal norms of what is already in existence. Please remember, these DNA patterns are not bound to our family of origin, they are also a condition of our social environment. This tendency to follow social norms is a condition I call Social Survival. As discussed, it is the inherent need of social species, like primates, to base our survival decisions from an externalized source. We measure safety as a group, a title, a level of status, possessions, relationships, etc., anything that can be measured externally and defined as our security in the world.
The primary objective of our body is to thrive or, at the very least, survive. Most of the information we receive conveys the message, “Don’t be different. ‘Use an inside voice. Don’t say that to people. You can’t be a superhero when you grow up.” We identify with these attributes. Therefore, when teaching children to comply with societal norms, what is conceived is a single message that says, “whatever you do, don’t be yourself.”
Because we are absorptive and will adapt in whatever way is necessary to survive, we abandon our individuality taking on the identities of those around us. We define ourselves by conforming to learned survival skills for a new and mostly overwhelming environment. Still, it’s more than the simple storing of data, data we access like one manipulating a computer. I contend that this reprogramming is activation at the DNA level.
There is a DNA group classified in scientific research as Junk DNA. It was once believed to be inert but scientific study is rapidly coming into agreement that this DNA just might be our future, and I think it is our existence here that writes it. As we grow, decisions regarding outside stimuli are critical to the activation of this DNA. As we validate our perception through personal experience, variables become the key here. We bring into existence what has never existed before through our mere presence upon this plant. Through our individual expression of life, we write something new into humanity.
Each of us is born unique. No one living on the earth at this time has ever existed before. Even those who believe in philosophies such as reincarnation must realize, we can carry the history of a previous life, but we are also the person who exists today. We are altered by technology or relationships. No human before us has ever lived as the person we are today, and in the same regard, we will never exist again. Understanding this is critical to the subject of development. We each bring something to life that is uniquely valuable.
The issue is there is no one here to teach us how to be it. The people who raise us don’t know how, because we have not existed before. We don’t know how, because we have not existed before. No one could educate us on it because there is no previous reference for it. By the sheer fact, it has never existed before, it is an impossible thing to teach.
In effect, when we are young, we come into being speaking a language that has never been spoken. We have things to say, things the adults around us can’t comprehend, things we can’t fully understand ourselves, and we are often told these things are wrong during the vital stages of early development. We are told that we can’t possibly be the things we imagine ourselves to be or know what is best for the grown-ups in our world. We are told we shouldn’t believe in the possibilities of unconditional love or hope for a perfect existence. We are told we are square pegs and that we must shave our edges to fit into round holes.
This idea of being the type of peg that fits into anyone else’s hole is devastating to our soul. We came into this world to be unique, to fill a gap that exists, a gap only we can fill. Nothing in nature is created by accident, and that includes us. We are here for a reason, but nothing in our environment can tell us what that reason is, or how to get there.
Children, by their very nature, are happy, healthy, confident, and fearless. All the things we think we need to teach them they already know in ways beyond anything we can comprehend. They just haven’t developed a way to speak it yet.
This was true of our subject. The love she felt for the world around her, the idealism and belief in possibility were eventually abandoned to survive the conditions of her environment. That abandonment eventually became who she was.