Is Everything You Think and Feel the Result of Social Conditioning?

Social conditioning is a theme that has popped up over and over again for me in the last few months and, lately, has been on my mind almost constantly.

What is Social Conditioning?

According to wikipedia, “social conditioning refers to the sociological process of training individuals in a society to act or respond in a manner generally approved by the society in general and peer groups within society.”

Social conditioning is the process that everyone goes through as they grow up so that they can live in this society that we’ve all made up. From the minute you are born, you begin this social processing, where you are told what is good, what is bad, how to behave, how to feel, how to act around other people, and how to survive in this weird world we call home.

If you think about it, when you are born, you just “are”. You are a clean slate. You see things just as they are, you feel hunger (but you don’t have a name for it), you sleep when you’re tired because you don’t know what ‘bed time’ is. Nothing has a label, nothing has a meaning. You are just a beautiful human being with a ball of light energy inside you burning bright and being here in the moment.

Slowly you begin to learn that certain behaviours provoke different reactions from your caregivers. If you eat when they want you to, you are deemed ‘good’, and you make them happy. But if you don’t go to sleep at the right hour, you are deemed ‘bad’, and they are not happy. 

Since your caregivers are all you’ve got – you’re so dependent whether you like it or not – an innate survival system inside of you kicks in. You begin to learn the behaviours that make them happy, and since you know that without your parents, you can’t survive, you begin to hate yourself when the way that you ‘are’ is not what they want. Suffering ensures.

This continues on as you grow, and extends from your parents out into society at large. Now it’s not just your parents telling you what is right and wrong, it’s the whole of society’s messed up views on how we should be. What we should do, what kind of life we should live, what we should put into our bodies, who we should love, how we should look, and how we should feel about ourselves.

No wonder we’re all so screwed up.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not ragging on your parents or anything. Every single person that has ever lived and in every society has been conditioned. It’s kind of a necessary evil in order for us to get along in this world and survive. I plan to condition my own children when I have them, and there’s really no way around it.

But it’s just that we end up becoming slaves to the conditioning when it no longer serves us. We believe the conditioning is reality – that it’s truth. And the fact is – most of us simply don’t live up to the standards that are set for us as the proper way to ‘be’ and we hate ourselves for it.

You might be feeling some resistance to this idea at this point – you might think ‘not me. I haven’t been conditioned’. Your ego doesn’t want to let that slide, but trust me, you are not exempt… almost everything you think is truth is simply a conditioned experience. All of these things are conditioned ideas:

  • That we must wear clothing, as the naked body is scandalous
  • That we must eat our food with our forks and spoons and not our hands
  • That silliness is looked down upon
  • That we must keep our opinion to ourselves and stay in line
  • That we must wash our hair and faces and bathe religiously because you are naturally dirty.
  • That growing up and having a straight partner, a house, 2.5 children, a stable (yet mundane) job, and a white picket fence is the only desirable outcome for your life
  • That governments and authorities know what’s best and are looking out for you
  • That all illegal drugs are the devil incarnate simply because the guys in charge said so, and that everyone who has ever taken an illegal drug is a homeless crack addict. Legal drugs though? Here, go nuts. Kill yourself slowly as long as it makes us money.
  • That you must go straight to university and get into an impenetrable debt prison, otherwise you are surely doomed to work at McDonalds for the rest of your life (and eventually end up on welfare shooting heroin the back alley!)
  • That you must be 5’10 with a 30 inch waist and double Ds in order to be sexy, or have giant muscles and show no emotion if you’re a dude

Conditioning has beaten us down. Remember when you were a kid? Remember how you just said and did whatever you felt in that moment? You let your silliness fly, and you were happy just doing, and loving, and being. You look at children and they seem so pure.

Example:

At the bush festival I was at in Queensland last week (it was called Earth Frequency, an apt name as most of the people who attend these things are very in tune with themselves and the earth), they had some aboriginal people in their native dress come to speak to us and do some of their native dances for us.

The aboriginal people of Australia represent the oldest surviving culture in the entire world and have lived off the land harmoniously for thousands of years (until the white man came along). It was beautiful to see him sharing the land with us to have the festival, and to be able to have a glimpse into their traditional way of life.

In one of the dances, it was kind of like an interpretive piece about the hunt with one of them acting as the hunter, and the other was the giant grey kangaroo. As soon as one of the guys began hopping around like a kangaroo, this adorable little two year old girl broke free from her parents into the circle and began laughing, smiling, and jumping around too, just so caught up in the excitement that she couldn’t seem to help herself (it was so cute). I mean, heck…. I guess she hadn’t been conditioned well enough yet to know that wasn’t acceptable to do during a performance!

Of course, her parents tried to pull her back in quickly and quiet her down as to not disturb the performers. Again, not faulting them – I’d do the same thing with my kid. But I’m just saying – if you look around – evidence of conditioning is simply everywhere once you realize that it exists.

We Have All Been Conditioned In Our Own Uniquely Messed Up Ways

Now, I’ve mostly been talking about general ways that society has conditioned us, but everyone has different parents and different experiences, and has been conditioned in their own unique ways at a very microscopic level. And which specific pieces of conditioning happen to haunt each individual is very different.

For example, you may be disbelieving when I say that there are people out there who have acne, and just don’t really care about it. Acne doesn’t bother them.

I mean, of course! It isn’t a law that acne has to ruin your life. Acne itself doesn’t have much meaning, except for the fact that society deems it to be ugly.

But we see the world with filters on according to what we believe to be true, and filter out anything that doesn’t fit that reality that we’ve created. You’ve probably had a lot of experiences with acne that have caused you to despise it with every ounce of your being, and since that is how you feel, it is hard to believe that anyone else would feel differently about their acne – or look at your acne with anything but disgust, for that matter.

Acne is the bane of your existence. So how is it not for that other guy who has acne and just doesn’t care about it?

It’s probably because he had a bad experience growing up where someone told him that his nose was too big for society’s standards, but as for his acne, well, he knows most people out there get some spots, and it isn’t really a big deal. But now you sit here, without noticing a single thing about his nose, wondering how he could possibly not care about his acne, while he’s sitting there assuming you are majorly taken aback by his gigantic bird beak.

Perception, folks – it’s fickle.

Once you realize this (that everyone has had their different experiences that have shaped them) it’s very hard to fault anyone for being the way that they are. Suddenly, it’s a lot easier to be compassionate instead of reactive. If you don’t like someone, it’s easy to say ‘Oh, that guy’s such a jerk, he should know better’, or ‘that person is so ignorant, how could he possibly think the way she does’ and dismiss them.

For example, say you know a guy who always overcompensates for himself. We’ll call him Bob (sorry if your name is Bob). He’s always bragging, putting others down, acting like he knows everything, and buys fancy cars and expensive clothing. Immediately you dislike him and dislike him for how he is and wonder how on earth someone could think that was cool.

What you don’t see is the way that Bob’s father put him down as a child and gave a blow to his self esteem at every chance he could, and also that his father acted the same way – overcompensating, bragging, and being a jerk. Since children mimic and learn from their parents more than anyone else, what chance did Bob have to turn out as a confident, kind, and gentle man?

Not too much.

Conditioning Is Here to Stay, But Realize What It Is

Conditioning is never going away. People probably aren’t going to wake up one day in our lifetime and understand that all of this world is just one big made up game, full of two way mirrors and merry go rounds, and everything will be good.

We all have to play along in this three ringed circus we call modern society, but the more seriously you take it, the more you make yourself suffer. Remember – life is just a game. Most people never realize that.

There are other ways to live and be than the societal norms. Yes, it takes courage, but it feels a lot more real when you understand that the way you really are is just perfect and that taking a different path than what is “acceptable” is okay, whether it’s a different perception of yourself, a different way of eating, a different type of career choice, or an alternative lifestyle.

Awareness it the key to releasing the suffering of your conditioning. Every day, go about your business and notice the way that your thought patterns play into each other in their conditioned thoughts. Think ‘where is this belief rooted?’ and ‘is there any way to know with 100% accuracy that what I think about this is the absolute truth?’. Ponder if the things you are doing with your life are because you really want to or because you feel you have to live up to someone’s expectations.

I, of course, am still working on all of this (conditioning does not just vanish overnight), and I think my epic battle with my hatred of acne has got a long way to go. But I have to say that ever since I started becoming acutely aware of this conditioning stuff, I’ve been a lot happier, and a lot calmer. So seriously give this stuff some thought!

If you want to read more about it, consider reading “How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be” by Cheri Huber. It’s an excellent read.

In what ways have you been conditioned?

photo by Kevin Dooley

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Comments

  1. Christelle says

    I love that this blog isn’t just about healing acne, as in “what you see when you look in the mirror”. It’s one thing to respect your body and eat right to have pretty skin, but healing the heart and freeing yourself from social bondage is a whole other matter.
    Thanks for this post, Tracy. Lots of thought-provoking stuff here.

    One of the ways in which I’ve been freeing myself of social conditioning lately is ditching the make-up. I LOVE to look after my skin, and spend time making myself look and feel pretty, but I’ve decided that I’m not going to do it unless I really feel like it, because I don’t want to be a slave to others. And guess what? I still feel good about myself even when I’m not wearing make-up! And some days, when I’m in the mood, I take 30 mins to tart-up even though I know I’m not seeing anyone or going anywhere special. And think that’s how it should be. I still have a heap of other things to work on, but I really think that we women are under so much pressure to live up to other people’s expectations. Let’s enjoy this life and enjoy who we are!

    Peace

    • lulu says

      Wow Christelle that is awesome! I wish I could get to the point where im cool with not wearing makeup… but definitely not there yet =/ I already feel like everyone is staring at my spots. I swear I’ve caught people looking, and if my skin already looks this way with makeup… well anyways, I also really loved that you fancy yourself up when you have no one to impress :) I think making yourself look beautiful (or perhaps a little extra beautiful) for yourself alone is so wonderful. I hope I can get to the point where I feel beautiful one day.

    • Tracy says

      That’s awesome Christelle!

      It’s funny, because for the last week and a half, I’ve been doing a ‘caveman’ experiment… I haven’t washed my face at all, or even let water touch it. And no makeup (well, i put some mascara on sometimes). It’s been super liberating. I started this when I was traveling last week and at a festival, but I really like it… so far. We’ll give it a while longer before I say whether it’s going to help or hinder acne for me. So far it’s been great.. my skin is very non-inflamed.

      It’s funny though because a couple weeks before I went traveling and started this, I decided one day at home that I was going to do it, but I suddenly freaked out. I was just like…. no….. I can’t…. I just can’t….. I can deal with no makeup for a few days…. but what IF I break out… and then I can’t cover it .. and I’ll have to see people. and agh…… and I really flew off the handle, and realized just how much conditioning was beating me up in that moment. Personally I didn’t like it! I don’t want to care if I have a spot or two that isn’t covered up. I don’t want to be controlled by it.

      However, somehow it seemed different when I was out in the bush and didn’t have a mirror. At home we get so obsessed, or at least I do. When I’m not at home, not looking in the mirror, it’s a breeze. So when I actually started the caveman on vacation, it was super, and I’m still going with it now. I’m hoping that committing to this for at least a month or two will finally break my makeup security blanket. I have to admit though that I’ve come a long way in that regard… back before I started this website and was not so aware of my own thoughts, there was no effing way I was EVER letting anyone I ever knew see me with spots uncovered. And that just seemed normal. Now, it’s not such a big deal, but ….. it’s still there!! So yeah. Hopefully the caveman will help me get over it once and for all.

        • Tracy says

          No, I realize that, and if my acne was still bad, I’m certain I wouldn’t be strong enough to go makeup less. Well, I don’t want to say certain, but no… I get it. (However, on the other hand, you do still realize that no matter how bad the acne, it’s still conditioning, whether we’re strong enough to break free from it or not. I mean, guys usually don’t wear makeup even when their acne is bad, so there’s really no actual reason that us girls need to either).

          It’s just what I’m saying is that way back before the severe acne… my whole life I had pretty mild acne, that probably no one even noticed but me. But to me, it was just awful, and there is no way in hell anyone would ever see me without makeup. No one ever did. My skin is comparable to then, yet I feel quite differently about it. Not wearing makeup now still kind of sends shivers up my spine from time to time, but it’s no where near the terrifying prospect that it was back then.

  2. Michaela says

    Aye there, congrats on being a free-thinker and providing some food for thought (as well as skin)!! Also just letting you know that the all natural skin care approach has worked wonders for me!! Truly life changing and eye opening. keep it up!

  3. says

    I enjoyed reading this post. I’m mulling over what you said about children. For some reason some of it feels different to me. Going to bed at a certain time, for instance. I babysit an 11 month old and a four year old two to three days a week. On days that the four year old is particularly tired, he becomes extremely unpleasant to be around as it gets close to his naptime. He argues with me over nothing, gets aggressive with his sister, and often yells or melts down over tiny things. I know that if it were up to him, though, he’d skip his nap entirely. So is me requiring him to take a nap social conditioning? I suppose in some respects it is, since it is me imposing the fact that I don’t want to spend time with a out of control child. But on the other hand, I think that for some things children are just not in touch with themselves enough to realize the things that they really need. He’d much rather play than nap, but when I make him take a nap he’ll sleep for three hours and wake up in a great mood.

    Anyway, that’s just what I was thinking.

    • Tracy says

      Hi Meghan,

      I don’t know – the whole child raising thing is tricky, obviously. Yes, telling him to nap when he’s not tired is conditioning, but I’m not saying we shouldn’t condition our kids or tell them what to do or discipline them or anything… because it’s simply necessary. There’s absolutely no way around it. Kids need structure… and it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Often you do know more about what is best for them (well, to some degree)….. like the fact that most of them would probably eat candy for dinner if they could!

      So yeah… it’s necessary, and don’t feel bad about it – but it’s just that humans grow up not knowing that all these things are not actually real, and that it’s okay to feel or be different than what is “normal”. That if they want to go to bed a different time than you want them to, that it doesn’t mean that they are a bad person.

      So I guess we just need to be aware of the thoughts and ideas that we plant in the kids head and teach them to be critical thinkers.

      But what do I know – I don’t have kids, lol! So I don’t know exactly how you do that, or what would the best way to get these concepts across to children.

  4. Tina says

    A great read Tracy! I’ve always had this innate desire to fight conformity. I don’t know why, but I’m guessing I’m not alone. Your article made me smile instead of cringe when I thought back over things I’d done in the past that I got berated over because it wasn’t the accepted social norm. Go raibh maith agat – that’s thanks in Irish/Gaeilge xx

    • Tracy says

      Hi Tina!

      Yeah I kinda like it too! I think it’s like an ego thing though – feeling like I know “better” than all these silly conditioners, not knowing that they’re all conditioned themselves! Bahaha. But that’s kinda silly since I am just as conditioned as everyone else!

  5. f. says

    Good you’re back, Tracy! I missed following your posts and I could tell millions of stories about conditioning, however, it’s in the middle of the night here in Germany and my favourite skin care blogger told me to get enough sleep ;)

  6. Christelle says

    Hey guys,

    Sorry, I’m still on the make-up/no make-up thing. Just to answer Jaybird. I’m coming off the birth control pill right now, so my skin is ooook I guess. But I’ve tried quitting before and each time I’ve had massive breakouts… and it always brought me down. At that time I was an absolute slave to make-up (I mean, I had a whole ritual that took me ages every morning), and the worst part is I still felt SO bad about myself 100% of the time, even when my skin was covered up and probably didn’t look that bad.

    This time, I’m weaning off the pill slowly (slowly reducing the dosage by cutting my pill so that my body will no longer depend on it – so far so good, the lifestyle changes are really helping to keep me clear), all the while taking care of my body – eating right, getting lots of fresh air, and sleep, and learning to love myself. That means not feeling obliged to always look glamourous. In my family the women are always very well looked-after, and well-dressed, and while I love that they take care of themselves I don’t want to be slave to that.

    Just so it’s perfectly clear, I’m not saying “don’t wear make-up”, I’m just saying that really, we shouldn’t feel obliged to give in to social conditioning. If you want to go out for a jog and let your skin breathe, do it… people are focussed on their own problems, they won’t be looking at your skin! I’m sure I’ll have worse breakouts that will require extra masking as I quit the pill, but that shouldn’t stop me from living, and feeling good, and not wearing make-up if don’t feel like it, right?

    Bon courage, as we say here!
    xxxxxxx

  7. AcneDestroyedMyLife says

    If you feel bad wearing make-up that’s just another conditioning. Society demands form you naturally perfect skin;) so you feel bad covering acne.

    • Tracy says

      Yep, exactly… anything to do with makeup is conditioning – wearing it, feeling bad for wearing it… feeling panicky without it.

      Like I said – conditioned thoughts don’t just vanish instantly, and so no one should feel bad if they feel like they need makeup to cover their acne. But it’s good to become aware of the fact that the need for perfect skin and flawless looks (and therefore the use of makeup) is a conditioned ideal, and once you are aware of that, you might find that, to some degree, you may be able to let it go, and you’ll find that maybe you can be comfortable without being perfectly made up and covered at every moment.

  8. Erin says

    Hey Tracy! Thanks again for yet another great post! I just wanted to say that, having grown up in a predominently conservative christian area (and not being christian, myself), I have had to deal with alot of conflict with conditioning that greatly contrasts with my own. If they knew that I do not believe in God, a few of my (I haven’t been really sure whether or not I should be calling them) friends would, more or less, kick me to the curb in a heart beat. That almost happened a few years ago when one of them found out. Luckily, she was able to get past it, for the most part, but she told her parents, who instantly threw up the red flag. Since then, we have grown increasingly distant. Sometimes I am tempted to just yell at her, “Don’t worry about what your parents say! It’s YOUR life, not theirs!” But it’s not really my business to potentially turn her against her family (and therefore her way of life). I guess my question is, what, if anything, can I do about a situation like this? Are the friends of mine that are, in fact, like this, really friends (I would say no, but we get along great outside of religion and the ideals that follow)? Should I keep my beliefs a secret, as it is really no one else’s business in the first place? If I were to continue doing so, though, I would be keeping a major part of my existence inside, and I don’t believe that that is healthy at all. I guess I could simplify it to “Two or three of my friends vs. Being true to myself”, but I would still feel guilty about dropping those friends, as diversity is very, very sacred. Hence the big ol’ jumble on confusion and conflict. Any suggestions?

    One more thing (Sorry! This is turning into a rather long comment… oh well, I guess) I have had some trouble deciding what field I should go into, and it has come down to picking something that I love and living where I love but either a) not getting enough money, and/or b) with few to no jobs vailable vs. picking something that I would be kinda bored by and a) having plenty of money, and/or b) plenty of jobs available…. Again, any suggestions??

    • Tracy says

      Hi Erin!

      I realize that a lot of people are in some very tricky conditioned situations! And I do find that I have a hard time giving really specific advise because everyone’s friends and families and situations are so different… people react in weird ways, and you know your family/friends much better than I do.

      But anyway…. what I can say about what you said is this: should you ditch your friends? Well, I would say no if you truly enjoy their company and get value out of the relationship. Having differing beliefs is fine…. and while I struggle with the same thing sometimes … wanting to go ‘Come on! Don’t you see how manipulated and conditioned we all are!’ (lol, I guess that’s why I have this blog so I can say it!). But that will never get results. As hard as it is to bite your tongue sometimes, most people would not respond to that, they just have to figure it out for themselves. To them, their way of life is real, and them yelling at you to believe in it would have the same effect as the other way around!

      But anyway…. I think that it is okay to have friends who don’t feel the same way as you, and around them…. if I were you, I’d probably just not bring it up with them. And yeah, for a time, that may be very difficult as you don’t feel you are being true to yourself, especially if these are your only friends.

      However, what I feel is that if you follow your heart, and follow your truth, and do the things that you truly love the universe will naturally guide you in the direction that you want. Opportunities will arise organically. Similar people to you will rise organically. You will naturally migrate into a world to that includes friendships that do share your ideals and interests. You can still be friends with the old people, but your focus on their friendship will not be your focal point in life, so there’s no need to outright ditch them.

      How you are going to follow your heart and migrate along this path, I can’t say, because that is up to you to figure out.

      As for choosing what you want to do with your life – tricky! And you may reject what I say for whatever reasons, but I would truly advise that if you don’t really know what you want to do, that you don’t go to university. Travel, volunteer, do something different, and truly get to know yourself and your passions. Most people go to university not knowing what they want, or just picking something arbitrarily based on money and end up miserable in a boring job with mounds of debt. Or they do something completely unrelated to their degrees, or have to go back to school once they figure out what they actually want to do.

      I highly recommend reading this article : http://zenhabits.net/live-passion/

      • Erin says

        Thanks so much, Tracy! Luckily, these are not my only friends, so I can feel free to be myself around them. And I definately agree with you; I mean the more diversity you (when I say “you” I mean everybody in general) come into contact with, the more you can learn, because everyone has something unique and special to give. As for the career advice, I was considering taking a year or so off before I go to college to kind of figure things out. I’ll read that artical asap. Thanks again so much!

  9. Svea says

    This has absolutely nothing to do with acne, but I‘ve just been reading an extremely interesting article about how our cities, architecture and design are controlling and influencing the way people behave or think. It‘s about how space psychology and environmental conditioning can determine our perspective of reality and turn it into an artificial perception.

    http://guerrillacinema.org/architecture

    It‘s a little subject-specific (I‘m sorry for that), but I found it quite understandable and very illuminating.

    Cheers!
    Svea

    • Tracy says

      Hi Svea,

      That was a really interesting article – it’s kinda sad once you realize just how MUCH we are purposely psychologically manipulated all the time without really noticing it…. particularly through advertising. But yeah… even stuff you wouldn’t even think of, like architectural design as in that article, or even down to the specific music that they play in a grocery store to keep you there longer. Everything is so calculated. Everywhere, always, we are always being finely preened by the powers that be to become the perfect consumers. It feels so violating and phony.

  10. Nathan says

    Svea,

    Very interesting article!

    As a architecture student myself, I’m constantly thinking about the ways it influences society and the environment.Take for instance the shopping centre, it’s usually a place full of advertisements, strategically placed to usher the consumer into the purchase of something they don’t really need.

    As I read further down into the article, I came across a paragraph about horticulture and land and sustainability. For one, this is EXACTLY what my project is focused on – It’s essentially a building which houses local agricultural produce for (regrettably) for supermarkets to sell. However, it houses high-tech systems that reduce energy by a vast amount and allows for a much smaller footprint. It also uses rail will save over 2,000 lorry loads per week in the area! So it’s kinda like a distribution centre…

    In terms of ‘green’ (which is a horrible term), it will be able to utilise modern technology to allow for a zero carbon, self sufficient building.

    …Architecture is extremely complex, heck it takes well over 7 years of education (plus 5 years of work experience) to become a architect. One thing that people don’t see, other than the stress, is that at the end of the day, it’s the Client’s budget that reduces the environmentally sensitivity of the building i.e cheaper materials that cost less VS higher priced materials which will actually save money/energy in the long run.

    … Bit of a story but architecture is really moving forward in terms of sustainability. We have no choice as building regulations state that by 2016 all new homes will be zero carbon. (in the UK)

    Thanks for the post though, it’s really interesting!

    • Svea says

      Hey Nathan,

      you are right! Architecture itself is so much conditioned by money, clients, laws, sustainability demands, politics. It‘s not only a very complex profession, but it requires an extremely high amount of responsibility. You are expected to have an extensive general knowledge: Depending on your projects, you have to know about statics and structures, physics, the laws of nature, engineering, maths, philosophy, developing, geography, meteorology, biology, the arts, design – but you most probably won‘t ever find the time to be an expert in any of these fields. That‘s where the stress comes from – apart from the busy time schedules. Moreover, architects literally seem to see the world differently from non-architects. But that‘s a challenge and can be so much fun, too!

      I wish you lots of good ideas and creativity and don‘t stress out too much, if you can! – I know, most architectural students are night-workers …

      Good luck with your project!

      Svea

  11. Lizzie says

    Great article! I just discovered your website and I absolutely LOVE it. I’ve been using proactive and various other things for a long time now and I really wanted to stop but I wasn’t sure what else I could use! Then, two days ago, I found your youtube channel and started watching all the videos, then I found your blog and I LOVE IT SO MUCH. Yesterday I bought manuka honey and jojoba oil and I downloaded your ebook and I’m starting on #1 (emotional health.) Dude, you’re so awesome! Your tips are exactly what I was looking for! Love it! Thank you!

  12. Nathan says

    Thanks Svea!

    You are absolutely right – we have to follow so many rules and regulations, and now even more pressure for sustainability (which is of course good!)

    I’m on year 3, and it’s going really well so far :) One thing I have managed to do is sleep before 11.30pm. Usually I would be up until 2 am which is really bad on health.

    Honestly though, I think it’s almost worth it. It’s a very exciting profession and I couldn’t see myself anywhere else.

  13. says

    I have been thinking about this a LOT recently! I love how you have written this. I have gotten to understand this for a large part of great experiences at festivals. Also things that grow in the forest make me realize this. (hihi)
    I remember becoming so amazed by all the things that are automatic just because this is conditioned by our environment. For example I just found it the silliest thing ever to pick up something with a fork, it just seemed so weird and unnecessary.

  14. says

    I don’t think I *want* to give up this conditioning. Maybe I’ve been *so* conditioned that I can’t live without it. All I want is clear skin so I can join the masses and get on with my life. I know my self-confidence is there, I can feel it, I’ve seen it, and sometimes it comes out, but I just want to have clear skin so I don’t have to worry about it anymore. Ugh, it’s so emotionally draining. So much so I don’t even want to think about fixing the emotional baggage, I just want to fix the physical issue. I have everything else going for me that I could possibly want (except a steady romance, it’s all been sporadic and largely based on my own self esteem), I’m just ready to be done with this. I’ve tried everything!

    Naturopath Appointment mid March. Ugh. Wish it were sooner. Hoping he can just tell me “yup, don’t eat xyz”, and I’ll say “Aye aye capt-e-tan!” I’ll stop eating that, my hormones will rebalance, and I can get off accutane.

    Meh

    • Tracy says

      I hear ya, Dale. It really is exhausting, and I definitely understand that feeling of not wanting to go against it… but maybe one day you’ll be ready. This article wasn’t really that much about acne, but more about life in general.

  15. Annemarie says

    Even if you go against conditioning, learning to live to your own standards, not some someone else set. Everyone around us grew in the the same conditioning, such as acne being ugly and making you look unsociable and unhealthy. Even if you are at peace with your own problems (acne) and are comfortable without makeup, how will those others see you? The same way as they were brought up to. If I just decided to go to a party to make new friends, with ought makeup totally myself, people won’t take me the same way they would if my face was clear and done up. Can you be happy with yourself even when everyone is looking at you and not really to excited to get to know you because you have something physically “wrong” with you? Just because you have learned to accept yourself because of all this, others who don’t know about this stuff won’t understand that you are being confident and have amazing self esteem, they will just think you weird for not wanting to cover it up. So even if you do learn to accept youself, how do you get others to? Of cousrse we all love to have good friends who will accept you and love you no matter what you look like on the outside, but unfortunately there arent enough of those.

    I cant figure out how to go back and edit on this new tech I got, but do you get what I mean??

    • Dale says

      I understand what you’re saying, I felt the same way, but it really is about not worrying what other people think, especially if you’re making healthy progress in bettering your physical and emotional self.

      Think about this to put it into perspective;

      Would you be fine and or bothered at all having friends with acne? Think about one of the most confident and friendly people you know, now picture them with acne acting the same way. It might be hard to visualize. Maybe you have a really outgoing fiend who is kinda homely (not pretty). How do they do it? The do it because they have a sense of self worth and genuine interest in the world that literally goes beyond skin deep.

      It’s a difficult concept to grasp, trust me I know. I haven’t really been able to do it completely, but I do know that despite our heavily visual world, people react much more strongly to behavior than looks.

      I have friends who are also cursed with acne, worse than me and they seem unphazed by it. They are happy and outgoing because life still has the same rewards and joys even for someone who has acne. The difference is they are focused outward, not inward. I’m no saint by any stretch, but I understand the concept and can practice it to a certain extent.

      Keep looking up and working on improving your health. I know it feels like a long road, but don’t try and take shortcuts, youll just get lost and it will take longer.

      Cheers!

      ~ Dale

      • Tracy says

        This is exactly what I was going to say in reply to this :) Thanks Dale… my thoughts exactly. Personality does shine through a lot more than you might think and can definitely overshadow physical imperfections. People pick up on confidence like a sixth sense.

  16. hannah says

    I’ve been thinking similar thoughts lately. Like, am I the only person who likes music and festivals? I can’t take TV and don’t want to take Prozak.

    I feel strongly that so many people are depressed because they are repressed. It seems like almost all of my friends are waiting to die rather than living, or are always wanting what they can’t have rather than enjoying what they’ve got. No one has any music in their lives, or any social lives besides for co-workers and television.

    Today I saw Barbara Ehrenreich on YouTube giving a talk about “A History of Collective Joy” and I stopped thinking I was the only one with this exuberance in me that wants to get out.

    I haven’t read the book she wrote but I intend to. It’s called “Dancing in the Streets.” It’s sounds like it’s sort of a history on how we became conditioned to sit still and shut up. I, for one, am sick to death and bored stiff of sitting still and shutting up. I wish we could all go back to dancing in the streets.

    By the way, my skin is still good for several months now and all I really did is listen to you and leave it alone. I can’t thank you enough.

    Hannah

    • Tracy says

      I know.. there are lots of people out there who do truly enjoy life and live with exuberance, and reject social norms because they see through them. I feel blessed to know many of those kinds of people. Unfortunately it’s not the majority of people. I just read something somewhere called “The Easy Rule of Life” which made a lot of sense… take the easy and safe route (ie.. watching a lot of tv, not putting yourself out there, hiding away, never trying new things) –>> life becomes difficult (because it’s boring and you never truly feel satisfied. Take the difficult and uncomfortable route (trying new things, developing interesting hobbies, rejecting social norms) –>> life becomes easy (because you feel fulfilled and stimulated)

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