Thursday, August 1, 2013

Conditioning: The ultimate mind-fu*k

Going through spiritual enlightenment isn't easy. It starts to shed light on your mental processes and how they came to exist based on your upbringing, your past, and your life experiences. Once you start having a higher awareness of things, there's no going back. And for many, there's an insatiable need to keep finding out more about spiritual growth and exploring the phenomenon. There can also be times where you really wish you could "go back" to "ignorance is bliss" mode. You are a spiritual entity, a soul, in a physical body having a human experience. One of my favorite new awarenesses, is that when I find myself judging someone for whatever characteristic, I am able to notice it now and make myself disengage from that judgement. I now tell myself that everyone and everything is an extension of God/Source and the Universe, to appreciate all things as they are, and tolerance is important.

My friend sent me an article about thinking back over your childhood experiences to examine what thought patterns (conditioning) that your parents (or whoever raised you) put into your psyche. After reading it, my friend wanted to know what I thought, and my response to him was this:
"It was good. The thing for me is, having the awareness of it doesn't make shedding all those years of harsh conditioning any easier. Where do we as individuals draw the line between what's been conditioned into our psyche versus how we respond and act after going through difficult life experiences that we learned from." (Link to article)

Basically, REALIZING all the crap that you have been exposed to that has narrowed your views about life, shaped how you view and feel about yourself, and possibly created all different ways to judge other people, can be very difficult to undo. It's a daily effort. 

Enlightenment is like taking the red pill in the Matrix

For me, I was raised by a very strict, controlling father who followed rigid religious principles and standards of personal accomplishment that measure self-worth. The problem with all that was, by the time I exited my family circle, all those years of conditioning directly effected every interaction and relationship I've ever had in a rather negative way, because I wasn't aware of their effect on me and most of the conditioned principles have more of a negative connotation to them.

My mother was always subdued and subservient to my Dad, because this pattern is passed down through generations. There was just so much strict control and manipulation present in our family structure, and it was very damaging to us women. Unfortunately, this kind of patriarchal thinking was thoroughly ingrained into my brain: 
*The man is the head of the household *Women are below men *Whatever the man says goes
*A woman's needs and wants are below the man's *A man's sexual needs and desires supersede a woman's *Whatever the man wants, he gets

Having these patriarchal laws drilled into my head, even deeply into my subconscious, has proven to be rather disastrous for me in relationships, mainly because I lacked the courage to speak up for myself, and allowed men to control, manipulate, and treat me like crap because I felt like I wasn't worth better or that's just the way things are. It didn't help that most of my life boys told me I was ugly and I wasn't attractive. Combining the way I was treated by my Dad with being rejected by boys my whole life, led to serious self-worth and self-esteem issues that I've had to face and work on for the last 2 years. (Read my blog titled "Beauty: The Double-Edged Sword" for my story on being rejected and unattractive).

I mentioned being held to strict "standards of personal accomplishment that measure self-worth". 
Basically, my Dad put the fear in me that if I didn't excel in school and piano, I'd face punishment of some kind. In some ways, I am actually thankful that my Dad drilled personal advancement into me, because I ended up busting my ass in school and college, and got to the point where I was able to play Beethoven on the piano. (I gave up piano years ago because playing would stir up memories of my Dad yelling in my face to "play it right the first time" and forcing me to practice by use of threats and intimidation.) As for school, I was always getting great report cards, mainly A's, some B's, and making it into honors classes and clubs. I graduated high school with a 95 GPA, top 10% of my class (Magna Cum Laude), and had a bunch of scholarships dumped on me lavishly. I made it into the Honors Program at my college, which came with a full scholarship. I bulldozered through college in exactly 4 years by going full-time every semester, including summers. I made the Honor Roll and Dean's List every semester, and by the time I graduated college with a 3.8 GPA, I had amassed $25,000 in savings because I got so much scholarship money on top of the full scholarships. So while many other people were graduating with $40,000 in student debt for a Bachelor's Degree, I actually finished with a nice nest egg to get and furnish my first apartment.
These are things I'm proud to speak of, because I put in a lot of hard work and effort to accomplish it all.

Since my Dad has a serious case of random anger outbursts, we all lived in fear (even at a subconscious level) of him. My sister and I were constantly subjected to verbal, mental, and physical abuse (in the form of sometimes excessive "corporal punishment"). Because of this, my whole life I learned to stay quiet and not speak up for myself (which was called "back talk" and resulted in retaliation that I feared). Sometimes I would try to stand up for my little sister against his abuses (she got it way worse than I did) even though it was terrifying to stand up to him, but I would try, usually to no avail. I've carried around a lot of guilt my whole life feeling like I couldn't protect my baby sister from harm, and not just from my Dad, but from other men who've hurt her. I realize this guilt is unfounded, because none of it was my fault, but it's there. When I feel the guilt arise in my mind and body from the past memories, I have to really work at releasing it. 

During my upbringing, I was told to not date outside of my race. (Yes, this kind of thing still exists today!) The funny thing about that, was my first significant boyfriend was a Hispanic guy. I could tell that my Dad never approved of me dating him and was unhappy about it. But love transcends all traits, which is why I wrote that one blog called "On the topic of Love". When I went up to my Dad to tell him I was engaged to the Hispanic boyfriend (after 3.5 years together), he didn't even look at me or say anything. I could FEEL his negative reaction. It hurt to not have his blessing or approval. (If you want to know more about this first boyfriend you can read my blog titled "The Colossal Heartbreak").  I even did an official photo shoot related to this issue for my Angel Project:

I have really had to work at forgiving my Dad for the way he treated us all. He was raised to believe and act that way. He was subjected to a lot of abuses from his parents. Although he has evolved to a certain extent in present time to not be as harsh as he used to, he still follows much of the rigid belief system he's carried around his entire life. He's 60 now, and it's usually very tough for older people to change their belief systems after an entire lifetime of following them. 

-One of my "Yoda" masters in my life told me that "Forgiveness is one of the keys to the universe".-

In my Dad's defense, I know he loves and cares about me and my sister in his own way. He did give us hugs, play with us, and take us to cool places. But his Dark Side definitely took its toll on us.

Hopefully this blog helps you to start examining your own upbringing and what conditioning you may have been exposed to, so that you can start to unravel it and find your true self beneath all the rubble.

~Mandelyn Reese
The LA Street Angel

UPDATE 5/30/2014: Since I have written this blog, my Dad and I have actually been spending more quality time together and building a better relationship, which is helping me to heal from past abuse. He is not on Facebook and doesn't know I wrote this blog.
Here are some of my videos about Conditioning and blowing open your mind
Video #1 "Enlightenment & Conditioning"
Video #2 "Elaboration on Conditioning and Fear"
Video #3  "Blow open your mind!"


  1. At least you broke away. Many people never break away from those that control them. You can't reflect and know who you are until you can make decisions without someone telling you what is right and what is wrong every second of everyday. It's a terrible way to live.

    To reach enlightenment, one must break the bonds of self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is a person's inability to make use of his or her understanding without direction from another. In most cases, it's a parent. You cannot not make your own decisions when someone is always judging every thought and decision you make.

    Some people live under the direction of their parents for their entire lives. Even when they don't live at home, they visit each other everyday or speak on the phone everyday. Until you completely break away, that control and dependency will always be present.

    It's great to have someone to turn to that has good principles and ideas, but it's not healthy to depend on their guidance all the time. Ultimately, you want to make your own decisions, because that dependency will affect every decision you make when it comes to business, your social behavior, and relationships.

    In my personal path to enlightenment, I know I am still aways from reaching it. I am still reflecting on who I am. I've learned the hard way in a lot of decisions I've made in the past and learning to pause before I take every new step. I'm only just realizing all the patterns of my life are a repeat my parents lives. Some bad habits I learned as a child, which I still battle to this very day. At least I am aware of it and changing as I move forward.

    Great post Manedlyn. So insightful :)

  2. Very well spoken. As we get older I think that we each reach an enlightenment, although not always in the way others do. A few years back I shed mt conservative Christian upbringing (while in Bible College) and live more radically today than ever before, but with the same fever that Jesus demonstrated. For me years of guilt and shame and other indescribable events that have shaped me have resurfaced...and in my new light able to be truly shredded away from controlling me any longer.

    Like Mikey said...we must all continue to reflect and move forward. Nothing is as constant as change and once we embrace it, change becomes a wonderful thing! Thank you for sharing your heart.

  3. Touching story Mandelyn and unfortunately very typical. It always saddens me to see a innocent and pure little girl get dragged into a destructive family situation that represses her natural softness and generosity of soul. Being a temporary victim of the unresolved issues of her raging-insensitive father is a crime. To give me a manicure in California you have to take 18 months of training and past a state certification test. To make a baby you just have to have viable sperm and find an available vagina. A reflection on dysfunctional families has been an interest of mine for more then 25 years. The best news is the formula to overcome a dysfunctional family/upbringing is simple once you evolve to a point where you accept that the answer is simple. Now sure if you are in touch with your fellow Texan, John Bradshaw but I have read several of this books on the family and highly recommend them. I was lucky to have met a great therapist in 1989, which got me into about 25 of his workshops with about 20 other people who together worked through our issues that had resulted from our Dysfunctional families. First book “Bradshaw on family”, is a great start. Then, “The shame that binds you”. Third is “Homecoming”. This is most intense because it lets you “re-parent” the innocent soft, giving, and loving little baby girl you were all over again the right way.
    In summary: The nasty trick life plays on us is that as little babies created by large monster people it traps us to look up to them as all knowing and all powerful GODS.
    As babies we expect to be protected, loved and supported in any and all way possible by these giants to whom we are 100% dependant for food, shelter, and safety. If that ideal situation did not happen, once you are a mature adult you resolve this by accepting that parents are not GODS. Parents are just another set of defective human beings. Yes, it is that simple. It allows us to take all the power BACK from them that were taken from us as helpless, dependant babies. Sure there are many many positive energies I cherish that were instilled in me by my mother and father. I resent how much I had to suffer and to grow beyond the way they indirectly crippled me emotionally due to them never overcoming the dysfunction they carries from their own upbringing. But I have overcome it all; took a good 50 years but hell if I was going to give up after getting started on a goal. I never saw my mother quit at anything. So you separate the positive qualities they gave you and keep them in a cherished space. In turn, write the bad things they made you suffer through to and you forced overcome and flush those written items down the toilet (Seriously). Keep the solution simple, as I have described it. Or remain a victim of their semi-unintentional ignorance. Hugs, Philip Chester Greenfield Oct 1, 2013.