You are born more or less innocent, a child who hasn’t done anything wrong – in this lifetime at least. Then the world starts happening to you.
It then shifts from one in which you are toddling around without a care in the world, to one on that is untrustworthy, difficult, and scary. Very often, you can pinpoint an exact event when the event transpired that robbed you of your innocence.
For me, this happened when I was five. There was another boy who invited me over to play, not long after my family moved to a new town in the suburbs of Chicago. We went down into his basement and he choked me with a golf club until I almost passed out.
He was Catholic, had a crew cut, and was mean as I’ll get out, always bringing rocks to snowball fights and taking low blows, both with his words and his actions. He was that sort of kid, and I’m sure he had things that had hurt him as well – but at that moment my innocence was stolen and the world now had villains and vicious intentions.
There was another event, one in which a boy who had been threatening to “punch me in the eye!” finally did it. The thing was, however, that I had been stuffing grass down the back of his shirt and kind of deserved it. My childish brain knew that I wasn’t a victim.
The other boy, whose name was Kevin, victimized me. I then made the world and God mean something different from what it previously was.
All of a sudden, I was worried about seeing him in the other yard. My routes from school were different and I started to feel fear for the first time. Furthermore, my mother was a very anxious person, prone to worrying, and now she did all that she could to see to it that he didn’t come near our house anymore. The family dynamic shifted because now she was as scared as I was – probably more.
Yes, this is is small potatoes compared to some of the circumstances that some of the children in the world find themselves faced with – some are born into wars with no semblance of childhood – but most of us, people with relatively good upbringings and loving parents, have something specific that happens.
The internalization of our parents begins at a very early age, and many believe it starts while you are still in the womb. (Some also argue from past life experiences as well, but I believe that we have this lifetime to work things out in and that this is really all that matters). As very very small beings, incapable of walking or talking, or even breathing in the in utero example, we start to internalize our surroundings and download our environments into our psyches and beings.
This includes things that are said towards us and near us, things that are done to us and to those around us, the mannerisms or those close to us, particularly those of our primary caregivers, the things that are said at schools and religious institutions and in society as a whole, and a seemingly infinite number of other sources including television and social media. The mind is very much like the hardware of a computer, innocent and structural in nature, while the things that we pick up from our surroundings are like the software, intangible, invisible, and very often destructive.
Furthermore and frustratingly, we are not like “Apple” computers, ones that are unlikely to get corrupted with malignant files and viruses. We are like Dells, computers that are prone and susceptible to infestations that require them to be sent to India for repair.
This is further complicated by the fact that the human mind, in most instances, cannot recognize the difference between that which is true and that which is false, and relies on other minds who have the same inherent incapabilities to help it distinguish fact from fiction. (For more on this, I encourage anyone to dive into the work of David Hawkins).
Hilariously, when most children enter into their rebellious stages in early adolescence, they have actually become the parents they are rebelling against, even if the particular ways in which they express these personality traits are different from the ways their parents expressed them.
For instance, I was already a controlling person based on the internalization of my mother’s control well before I realized that I hated being controlled. I happened to control my environment in different ways, but control was the coping mechanism I adopted to make sense of the world, much like she had. My rebellion against a controlling environment became a form of control itself, and a very destructive one at that.
All of this – the things we see, feel, and hear while growing up – contribute to a vast, interconnected network of neurological programming that make up the subconscious mind. We will then subconsciously create scenarios in our lives that reinforce the networks of neurological programming wired into the brain. This is why people will move from one abusive relationship to another; the brain is wired in such a way that literally has them “ask for it.”
The good news is that we can switch all of this in an instant based on how we decide to be in any given moment. The process of transforming our lives is also a process of rewiring our brains. It does not happen overnight, but with the awareness that we are in many ways run by the subconscious, we can now apply tools of personal transformation to see that we change the course of our destiny.
What was your event? (Think between the ages of three and seven.)
What did you make the world mean based on it happening?
How can you see it playing itself out today in your current experience of life?
How can you take responsibility for it? Meaning, how can you rid yourself of the energy surrounding it?