It was a stupid little thing.  Really not a big deal on the face of it.  But for some reason it made a big impression on me and it highlights the point of this article.  

Why Did I (Not) Do It?
First, let me give you just a bit of background.  Believe it or not, I have always been a bit of an introvert….shy and hesitant about putting myself out there to other people.  And while I’m less so these days, I still find that I have to fight those tendencies now and then.  

So I was walking around at a farmer’s market this past weekend, where I saw an acquaintance of mine a little bit in the distance.  Not a close friend, but someone I had met, had professional ties to, and would likely be interacting with in the future.  It made complete sense to go and say “Hi” to him. I greet friends and clients all the time outside of the studio so it shouldn’t have been a big deal.  It would have taken all of 2 minutes and could have possibly brightened his day a bit as well as mine.

Well, my old shyness and introversion took over and I pretended not to see him and just went my way. I wasn’t rude…in fact I don’t even think he saw me.  But I wasn’t empathetic or friendly either.  And that bugged the crap out of me!

Why didn’t I do it?  What would it have cost me?  As I started analyzing it, I realized that it was my fear of rejection and my conditioning to avoid discomfort that caused me to turn the other way.  This is baggage that I’ve carried around for a long time.   I was not willing to risk being uncomfortable and I took the path of least resistance.

The Human Condition
Most of us struggle with some kind of negative conditioning, whether we realize it or not.  Our minds are molded and shaped over many years to be predisposed in ways that may or may not be the best for our long-term good and personal growth.  Our “fight or flight” instincts take over and tell us to avoid discomfort, stay away from stress, and move towards things that make us feel good.

When we understand this, we better understand why it’s hard for us to do things that we know are good for us, but we just can’t seem to do.  When we don’t work out. When we eat food that we know isn’t good for us.  This is our conditioning taking over, leading us towards things that are pleasurable and keeping us away from sensations that are not.  Working out is strenuous and uncomfortable and so our conditioning is to shy away from it.  Ice cream, cookies, chocolate, etc. all taste good to us and give us pleasure and so our conditioning is to eat them.
But the GREAT news is that we are human beings that have the inborn capacity to CHOOSE how we react to circumstances around us as well as what we do, regardless of what our conditioning tells us.  So when our conditioning tries to steer us to skip that workout because we know it’s going to be hard, we can choose to charge into it with gusto.  Or when we’re tempted to eat that éclair, we can choose to have fresh fruit instead.  It’s as simple as that.

It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Us
Of course, while it is indeed SIMPLE, it is certainly NOT EASY!  Our conditioning has had free reign over our reactions and actions for many years and very, very few people can just completely change themselves at the drop of a hat.  This is what we call personal development and it involves hard work, dedication, and the willingness to give up much of who we THINK we are today and transform ourselves into something higher, more worthy of who we REALLY are.

Understanding that we are conditioned to move towards pleasurable things and away from unpleasant things is the first step in changing ourselves.  But also knowing that we can choose differently…knowing that doing so will lead us to a higher, better version of ourselves….this makes all the difference.  It empowers us to get up in the morning and consistently go to work out because we know it will keep our body vital and strong and our mind clear.  It empowers us to choose to eat healthy food in moderation because we know that it will keep us energetic and healthy every day.

The Time To Start Is Now

A couple of books that I have found helpful in my own journey of personal development are Jim Rohn’s “The Five Major Pieces to the Life Puzzle” and Stephen Covey’s “First Things First“.  Both are great testaments to the power that can be unleashed if we take hold of our lives and drive ourselves in the right direction instead of being constantly whipped around by our conditioning.  

I encourage you to look for ways to empower yourself and become the lead force in your life.  Don’t accept that you are bound by the circumstances around you.  That you can’t ever change.  When you start to free your mind from past conditioning, whole new realms of possibilities start to open up for yourself and the world around you.  When you start to free your mind, you start to create your own future….your own destiny.  So go ahead….take that first step.