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Programming the Mind

Broadly applying the definition of the transitive verb program - to predetermine the thinking, behavior, or operations of as if by computer" - everything programs you. You are influenced in some way by every single event on life's path - every word you give or receive; every chance meeting or intense interaction with another; the room and the chair you sit in, the view from your window, the route you take to work or play, every TV show, even the weather pattern. You are also highly programmed by the tribe or culture into which you are born - and certainly by the people who raised you. Your brain operates like a highly sophisticated computer, your memory banks filing away each experience.

Wilder Penfield, MD, found that when a certain portion of a subject's brain was electrically stimulated, the subject could describe minute details of an event that had happened when he was four years old. Not only did the subject recall cognitive data, but the emotional responses to the scene were also recalled. Aldous Huxley was able to induce a trancelike state in himself, then recite, verbatim, the contents of a page in a book he had not read in twenty years. Under clinical hypnosis you could likely remember an event that your conscious mind had seemingly forgotten. Most people can remember certain injunctions given to them by parents or teachers (even ten, forty, or sixty years ago) that still cause some internal stress or reactivity today, especially when the injunctions are being violated. It may be something as simple as advice not to swim after eating, or as serious as the admonition never to date somebody outside your religious faith.

As adults, we are being influenced daily by the stuff we incorporated into the body-mind in these first two years and beyond. Therapies abound for helping people face and cope with aspects of their early childhood programming that are presently causing dysfunctional behaviors, irrational thought patterns, and impaired relationships. When you realize that everything, everywhere, all around you is interacting with you, and you realize how influential these interactions can be, you may feel overwhelmed. But you may also be moved to examine the sources of your present-day programming and start taking more responsibility for what you take in.

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