Our habitual behaviour and men
Our habitual behaviour and mental conditioning are among the biggest hurdles in our life’s journey
All of us each day during waking hours perform repetitive tasks. Dozens of times a day, we engage in behaviour that requires little or no focused concentration. On the first time, any new activity requires our attention and effort to learn, but then we memorised and become skilled for those tasks. We save our mental and physical energy when we keep on repeating those tasks.
We are not required to think about them. Then those tasks become easy, natural, familiar and routine; they truly are now second nature to us. As we keep on repeating the task, we become conditioned to carry out tasks in our daily life. Similarly, our responses to various situations become automatic with time. We generally react in the manner in which we have been earlier doing it.
Conditioning starts at a very early age. In our early childhood phase, the thoughts, behaviour and responses we experience get programmed into our subconscious mind. Likewise, when we watch or learn from our parents, other family members and teachers, we start making our own beliefs about the world where we are being nurtured. Who/what is right or wrong, we start assimilating in the early childhood period?
Studies are now showing that this is the most crucial period in our lives as the foundation is laid down during this period. As we grow, our programmed beliefs become deeply embedded in our thinking patterns. Hence, these beliefs become an integral part of us. We continue to repeat and reinforce those thoughts, behaviours, beliefs and responses. In a way, we are strengthening our identity or ego. In the process, we all become habitual and repetitive in our behaviour and thinking.
The decisions are taken by our conditioned mind influence our lives in many ways and that, in turn, affect our future and destiny. We perceive and interpret things through the lens of conditioning. Imagine a child who has an unconditioned and open mind who sees things as they actually are.
As the child grows the dust starts accumulating on her clear and transparent mind.
This is done by her parents, siblings, teachers, and friends. Likewise, all of us get conditioned as we grow. Our behaviour, beliefs and the way we respond to the outer world become more ‘hardened’. We keep on rejecting the beliefs that don’t conform to our belief system. This is known as confirmation bias, a kind of cognitive bias. Through this bias, we keep on confirming and strengthening our beliefs. In turn, our mind gets more and more conditioned in responding to the reality we experience.
As we know our subconscious and unconscious parts of our mind are far more powerful compare to the conscious mind. When we are engaged in tasks performed frequently like driving, taking bath, eating, playing our favourite games, walking and doing exercises, our subconscious mind operates and we need almost no concentration or extra effort.
We get mastery over these routine works. On the other hand, the unconscious mind is a storehouse of our earlier repressed memories, which can’t be accessed by our conscious mind. This part plays an extremely important role in governing our emotions, behaviour and actions.
Due to this very unconscious mind, we live on ‘auto mode’. Our conscious mind is like the tip of the massive iceberg, which lies beneath the surface. When our behaviour and actions are habitual and conditioned both the parts of our mind, other than the conscious mind works incessantly during the waking hours.
The conditioned mind is indeed the source of most of our behaviour toward others, and to every situation in life. It determines our interpretation and perception of reality. In a very real way, we spend our days in a “mind-made prison,” captives of our small and circumscribed outlook.
This is of course a great cause of suffering and the primary obstacle to our growth. We constantly mistake our interpretation of the world, which is purely subjective, for the truth. We fail to understand or respect the fact that like us, others too have their own set of beliefs, which they take to be true. We keep on labelling things as true or false and generally do not confront ourselves once the belief is deeply ingrained.
When we are in autopilot mode, we continue to react to various situations in a habitual and conditioned manner. We don’t respond to the outside world as per the requirement of the situation. Many times, our behaviour becomes impulsive. We act automatically on those occasions. These conditioned responses prevent us from living our life mindfully. This in turn may retard our personal growth.
In a way, our habitual and highly conditioned behaviour becomes a major impediment to our spiritual growth. We miss many opportunities in our life’s journey because we are not open and receptive to them. Though, mental conditioning is not always harmful.
In fact, we can train ourselves for positive behaviour and belief system. We can learn to respond to challenges by changing our responses under stressful and distressing conditions. However, we are more prone to condition our behaviour and beliefs that adversely impact our growth. Hence, we must learn to come out from the comfort zone of habitual and conditioned behaviour and response system.
Ideally speaking we should be open, receptive and mindful in our life, whatever the situation arises from time to time, we should respond appropriately. Our actions should not be reactive or automatic. Our emotions, as well as behaviour, shouldn’t be impulsive. It all depends on the degree of conditioning.
We all see people whose actions and behaviour are so repetitive in nature; we can anticipate what they are going to say or how they will behave.
They keep on repeating the same dialogues when we interact with them. The first and foremost thing which is required to become mindful is self-awareness. We should be fully aware and conscious about our behaviour, actions, what we speak and how we respond/react to life’s situations.
If we become aware, we will automatically become conscious and will try to be mindful or fully aware. Meditation and mindfulness are among the best mental exercises that make us more aware, conscious and mindful. Once we take care of habitual behaviour and hard conditioning of our thoughts, we can surely begin to undertake an accelerated spiritual journey.
For more articles – Click here