subconscious, programming, renew, mind

What Do You Know?

What Do You Know?

My youngest grandchild celebrated her third birthday two days after Christmas. She is well on her way to becoming a delightful young lady. At present she is content to live in the moment. Bumps and other mishaps are quickly forgotten, and she wastes little if any energy worrying about her future.

A few weeks ago her father said to her, “Katie, you’re so pretty!”

“I know,” Katie replied nonchalantly and continued playing with her Barbie. She has been told that she is pretty often enough in her young life to have accepted the statement as a fact and it is now an integral part of her self image.

It is good for a little girl to know that she is pretty. All are, but far too few know it. They have received other messages that have been accepted without question; messages that will not serve them well as they grow older.

It is accurately said that children are like sponges. They take in everything they experience and catalog it in their subconscious mind. They do not question the accuracy of what they hear, but accept all statements as fact. The input of parents, siblings, grandparents, teachers, and others determines to a great degree what a child “knows” about himself. The belief system that is established in a child’s formative years will dramatically affect the way the world is viewed as a teenager or adult.

Brian Klemmer, an expert in character development, believes that 99 % of our decisions are made by subconscious programs that were established by what we learned as children. We think that we are weighing the facts and making a conscious choice, but the scale we are using to make that determination may be out of balance.

In his book Outliers Malcolm Gladwell compares the lives of two of the most intelligent men born in the twentieth century. One, Robert Oppenheimer, was born in a wealthy home and received messages as a child that caused him to believe that he was capable of achieving anything he chose. He became a renowned physicist and is known as the father of the atomic bomb. The other, Christopher Langan, was raised in an environment that caused him to distrust authority and believe that the world was against him. Despite having an IQ of 195, one of the highest ever recorded, Langan ended up working on a horse farm in rural Missouri.

I have observed that children tend to live up what is expected of them. Unfortunately, they also live down to what is expected of them. A child who is told that he is stupid and will never amount to anything will incorporate that information into his subconscious self image and subsequently sabotage any opportunity to succeed. A child who is told she is pretty, smart, and creative will see herself that way and succeed in spite of any obstacles that are thrown in her way.

What is true of children is also true of adults. We tend to live up to or down to what is expected of us and, more importantly, what we expect of ourselves.

The good news is that you and I need not let our childhood programming determine how we live our lives. It is possible to change the way we view the world if we are willing to consciously confront the programs that were put in place when we were young and question their validity.

Not only is it possible to change the way we view ourselves and the world, there is a Biblical mandate to do so. In Romans 12:2 we are told, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

As children we unquestioningly accepted what we were told by the world around us and conformed to its expectations. In most instances, those expectations fall far short of those God has for us. Renewing the mind is not an easy task; it is far more comfortable to continue to run on autopilot and let subconscious programs have their way. Comfort, however, has a price. It prevents growth and keeps us from reaching our full potential.

I encourage you to make 2010 a year of growth. If you catch yourself thinking, “That’s just the way I am” or “That’s the way it always goes” recognize that you are listening to programs that are in all likelihood based upon lies you were told when you were young. Don’t settle for the way you are, but become the person you would like to be.

© 2009 Wellness Clubs of


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