Social Conditioning: The Power of Subliminal Suggestions
Over the nearly three decades that I have been committed to helping people overcome multitudinous obstacles to achieve exceptional results in their lives, I have mastered numerous disciplines, including neuro-linguistic programming, psychology, psycho-cybernetics, neurological remapping, embodied cognition, neuro-associative conditioning and more. However, if I had to narrow down what a do to one singular focus, I would describe myself as a neuro-associative conditioning specialist. While I use all the disciplines I’ve mastered over the years, without question, the one that has the greatest singular impact is neuro-associative conditioning.
Neuro-Associative Conditioning (NAC) is a technique for creating lasting change that derives its foundation from Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). It describes the process a particular mechanism of change in human behavior and performance based upon the simple premise that there are only two determinants of human behavior — the need to avoid pain and the desire to experience pleasure. At its simplest level, I use NAC to associate pain with undesired behavior and pleasure to the desired behavior. In an ideal situation in which a person needs to change a particular behavior to improve their lives, I help them to associate pain to not making the change and pleasure to the results of making the change.
I often share my philosophy that “facts mean absolutely nothing to the conditioned mind.” The conditioned mind is trained to perceive and behave based on the current paradigm through which a person views the world around them. If a person has been conditioned to believe that they are incapable of accomplishing something, the Reticular Activating System (RAS) will work to find all of the information that supports that conditioned belief. Often the belief comes from a primary label-giver early in life, but sometimes it can emerge as a result of a significant experience at any point in life. If this belief and the paradigm that underwrites it, is not changed, there is nothing that can be done to change the associated behavior. Although facts are precise, the manner in which they are interpreted is not. This is why people who share similar experiences can end up with completely different results.
Some people have a way of seeing the good in almost anything, while others will find the darkness in the brightest of days. There is nothing myself or anyone else can do to help people successfully and consistently avoid the vicissitudes of life, but I can help them change how they view and engage them.
Understanding the power of the conditioned mind is key to understanding what I am going to share with you here. Although most people don’t even give it serious thought, we are constantly bombarded by experiences, information, and subtle suggestions that serve to slowly condition how we view the world around us, as well as how we view ourselves. It was Carter G. Woodson that illuminated the fact that if a man became convinced that he was inferior, he would not have to be told to behave accordingly, his belief in his inferiority would automatically demand that his behavior aligns with his self-image.
I have always placed a great deal of emphasis on communicating the importance of effective parenting because parents are the first line of defense in the development of a child’s self-concept — which has a direct bearing on the development of their self-esteem and their self-confidence. Parenting is also the first form of social conditioning that a child will experience.
Social conditioning is a sociological process similar to socialization that is more intense than the process of socializing an individual. Additionally, proper socialization is almost always seen as being positive, while social conditioning is often more beneficial to the one doing the conditioning, and it is often at the expense of the one who is being conditioned.
Despite having successfully navigated the labyrinthine corridors of academia in the United States, I believe that the American educational system can be highly counterproductive to the development of personal identity, self-awareness, and self-determination. The education system is designed to prepare individuals to plug into an existing system such as corporate America. Kids are not encouraged to discover their passions and trust their yearnings — they are thrust into categories and assigned to particular tasks that their teachers and others presume to be best for them.
The moment that children enter the educational system they immediately meet a form of resistance that insists that they get their heads out of the cloud, stop daydreaming and be more realistic in their expectations for their lives. You would be surprised at the number of times I have encountered a child who had been told by their teacher that their dreams were not likely attainable, and they should focus on something more reasonable and realistic. Not only is this type of behavior by secondary label-givers, such as teachers, but it also a part of a system that frowns upon individual thought and self-determination. A person who is self-determinant rarely finds their place in operating in cooperation to the status quo. They are not easily controlled.
On a grand level, social conditioning is the corporate process of training individuals in a social group or system to develop certain beliefs, desires, behaviors, and emotional reactions, which are deemed acceptable by the general society or by certain sub-groups within it. When social conditioning is successfully executed, it is immensely effective — not only because those who have been conditioned will be guided by the beliefs that have been pushed upon them but because conditioned people have a proclivity to police others who appear to be operating outside of the accepted guidelines.
When you decide to think for yourself and abandon status-quo thinking to pursue personal aspirations that propel you outside of the proverbial box, you will make others around you uncomfortable. The way that people ease the discomfort of the dissonance associated with seeing others attempt what they believe cannot or should not be done is by scolding and correcting them — reminding them of their place. I call this “whispering the sweet nothings or negativity.” There are people who literally make it their life’s work to remind people to stay in the box. The ability to break free of social conditioning will depend heavily on your willingness to manage those in your periphery. You are the sum of the average of the five to 10 people you spend the most time around. If you are constantly around negative people, you will develop a negative state of mind. If you spend time with people who lack purpose, you will become unpurposed, lacking focus and intent.
Social conditioning starts when you are an infant and is most acute during the early developmental years; however, it continues throughout your entire life. Parents execute it, peers, teachers, employers, co-workers, your neighbors, books you read, television shows you watch, the church you attend, and even advertisements and commercials.
Social conditioning is employed in several ways, but one of the most common and effective models is the use of rewards to reinforce desired behaviors and punitive actions to punish those behaviors that are frowned upon. This particular model is referred to as classical conditioning. This is the same model used to train animals such as dogs, horses, pigeons and more.
While the classical model is constant, the most effective form of social conditioning is the use of repetition to introduce the same message. Also referred to a subliminal messaging, this form of social conditioning is subtler and takes place over longer periods of time, constantly being reinforced in more subtle ways. The use of subliminal messaging as a means of social conditioning is why constantly guarding your gates (eyes, ears, and even touch) is so important.
With the use of subtle suggestions, the target is not the conscious mind but the subconscious. The subconscious mind is responsible for more than 85 percent of your behavior and decision making. Something as simple as constantly seeing a commercial ad in which a well-dressed man attracts lots of women — drawing an implicit conclusion that if you want to be loved by the ladies, you have to dress the part. Is this completely true? Of course not, but if the pattern presented by the advertisers in not interrupted by the idea that there are plenty of ways to attract women, the person viewing those commercials will go to great lengths to dress like the man in the ad.
We have all been socially conditioned at different levels, with many becoming completely compliant to the ideas presented by the status quo. Social conditioning is not conducive to producing a population of people who are highly functional and optimizing their potential, but it is rather a form of herding and indoctrination that controls the movement of those it influences. People who conform to the social conditioning aimed at the masses are more vulnerable to responding to certain opportunities (good or bad), treatment, and conditions in a manner considered to be acceptable by those who benefit from those responses.
So, what is the problem with social conditioning? If social conditioning was used to guide people in the best direction for their lives, there would not be anything wrong with it, but the vast majority of social conditioning leads to negative results. Social conditioning in America has led to the harboring or erroneous thinking, counterproductive behavior, toxic desires, and unhealthy emotional reactions to lives inevitable intrusions upon our sanctity and peace.
When you observe some of the statistics that provide a portrait of the current state of the U.S., you will find that the status quo is not all that it is cracked up to be, and it is definitely not a reflection of the potential that we all possess as individuals.
- Approximately 41 percent of the U.S. population (25.8 million people) suffer from diabetes, and another 79 million are pre-diabetic
- In the U.S., 41 percent of first-time marriages and 60 percent of -second-time marriages end in divorce (these numbers can be significantly higher for certain sub-groups)
- Approximately 29 percent of adult women in the U.S. and 43 percent of adult men binge on alcohol on a regular basis
- An estimated seven percent of Americans will experience an episode of depression at some during the current calendar year
It is worth noting that the numbers are eerily similar in other developing countries. While there are several factors contributing to the reality, social conditioning is, without questions, one of the primary culprits.
When I initially became aware of social conditioning, I attempted to identify ways that I had been negatively impacted by this force and then to reverse the damage. What I learned is that it was far worse than I had imagined. In fact, most of the most commonly held beliefs are influenced by social conditioning, and the vast majority of them are extremely bad. Additionally, our desires, behaviors and emotional reactions are negatively influenced by poor social conditioning.
Why aesthetics has a place in every culture to a certain degree, physical appearance is treated with transcendence in regards to more important elements of personal health. People will go to great lengths to improve their pulchritude or personal appearance while neglecting fitness and proper nutrition. This type of behavior is a direct result of social conditioning that places such a great emphasis on external beauty.
Another area in which we suffer from poor social conditioning is the proclivity to participate in blind consumerism — a direct result of unbridled materialism. Social conditioning has the large portion of the American population chasing cars, clothes, and expensive accessories while working jobs that they hate (a form of slow spiritual suicide).
Could You Bear the Results of Poor Social Conditioning?
You are probably wondering if you have been negatively impacted by social conditioning, and unless you have been trained to go to great lengths to resist the force of social conditioning, it is likely that you have been negatively impacted at some level.
The worst thing you could do at this point is making the postulation that social conditioning has not had a negative impact on you. While it is easy to assume the position of being beyond social conditioning, entertaining the idea that you are too sharp to be negatively impacted by this type of conditioning, the truth is social conditioning has likely impacted your thinking more than you can imagine. In fact, the erroneous postulation that you are not vulnerable to social conditioning and subliminal messages usually means that you likely most vulnerable to it.
The first thing that you must do is to begin to examine and question common beliefs, ideas, desires, behaviors. Although you cannot question every possible idea or belief that you hold, you can question the ones that have the greatest influence on your decision making because the decisions you make impact your successes and your lifestyle.
You need to make a conscious effort to pay close and focused attention on thoughts, actions, and feelings in a variety of different situations. When you notice that you are behaving a certain way or acting on a particular belief that you know has influenced you before, ask yourself if that belief that you hold has validity. You will be surprised how many unfounded beliefs you hold simply because they were introduced to you at a time or in a way in which you were never allowed to challenge or question them. Every day, people make major decisions based on limiting beliefs that were passed on to them by someone else — either directly or indirectly.
Every time that you identify a belief or behavior that you recognize as being common, challenge it. Question how it impacts you and what is the result of holding that belief or perpetuating that particular behavior. If the belief of behavior does not positively serve you, start the process of getting rid of it. What you will find is that the beliefs, ideas, and behaviors that you identify as being counterproductive will be common to many other people in your periphery. Additionally, these beliefs and ideas are promoted by a large group or particular organization.
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” ~ Socrates
It is important that you make it a point to perform regular self-examinations to identify conditioned ideas and behavior. The ability to use critical thinking to challenge common ideas will be essential to breaking free of the manacles of social conditioning.
Work and Learn from Real Experts
We live in a world in which everyone is a guru, and it can be extremely difficult to identify who the real experts are. It is important to find true experts who possess the experience and knowledge to successfully help you navigate a particular issue. A real expert will have studied the principles of their field of expertise copiously. An expert will be aware of all relevant and extant scientific data associated with their field. Finally, a real expert will have applied a large portion of the principles in their field to their own lives.
Often, situational experts will hold philosophies that are diametric to the ideologies of mainstream society. To elevate out of the pit of mediocrity, you must be willing to engage ideas that venture outside of the norm. Search out these people. If they have video archives, take the time to watch them on a regular basis. Read any literature they have written. If they have seminars or conferences, make sure to get to as many as you can. I have seen people go to the same webinar countless times and end up not only taking the necessary steps to change their lives but getting the funding to do it through the people they met at the webinars they attended.
If the expert you find offers direct engagement through coaching sessions of one-on-one sessions, sign up. You also need to learn about social dynamics, psychology, politics, and history.
Get Out of the Box
Being social creates, it is not surprising that most people are only comfortable with spending time with people who have similar ideologies, bear similar beliefs and values, and strive for the same things. Socializing with others who are like-minded is a part of creating a sense of stability; however, if you are looking to change your current situation, you will need to get out of your current box and engage those who don’t think the way that you currently think. These new acquaintances will carry beliefs and philosophies that are more in alignment with the life that you are aspiring to.
When you identify erroneous beliefs and behaviors, the goal is to initiate the process of reconditioning your mind and taking charge of your life. In certain situations, simply recognizing a particular element of your life as being the results of poor social conditioning will be sufficient to allow you to reverse its influence.
On the other hand, there will be certain cases in which the result of poor social conditioning will require more effort and even professional help to overcome it. Once your behavior and thinking become habitual, it is now under the control of your subconscious and having conscious awareness of it alone will not be enough to overcome it. You will have to go through the process of reconditioning your subconscious through the introduction of counter-expressive information engaged on a consistent basis.
While you are working to recondition your subconscious through the introduction of positive information, you will also need to limit and eliminate exposure to the negative social conditioning mechanisms. It may be a specific type of music or particular television show that you like to watch. It may even be some of the people with whom you love spending time. Those in your periphery will have an immensely powerful influence on your beliefs and behaviors.
As important as it is to limit and eliminate the mechanisms associated with poor social conditioning, they are so pervasive that managing them is a life-long endeavor. Nevertheless, you are at the helm and in control — take charge now.
I examine social conditioning as a phenomenon at great lengths in my latest book, Critical Mass: The Phenomenon of Next-Level Living! Order your signed copy here!
Balbin, T. (2018, February 2). Breaking Down The Walls of Social Conditioning. Retrieved from Warrior.Do: https://www.warrior.do/social-conditioning/
Ezeanu, E. (2018, January 15). How to Rise Above Social Conditioning and Live an Amazing Life. Retrieved from I Am Eduard: http://iameduard.com/socialconditioning/
Greenfield, G. (1988). Self Affirmation: The Life-Changing Force of a Christian Self Image. Fort Worth: Baker Publishing Group.
Wallace, R. (2006). Renewing Your Mind: The Dynamics of Transformation. Houston: Odyssey Media Group & Publishing House.
Wallace, R. (2016). Your Mind Is the Genesis of Your Destiny. Houston: Odyssey Media Group & Publishing House.
Woodson, C. G. (1933). The Mis-education of the Negro. New York: Seven Treasures Publications.
 (Greenfield, 1988)
 (Woodson, 1933)
 (Greenfield, 1988)
 (Ezeanu, 2018)