Disclaimer: This article is written by an American about the USA experience. If you’re not from the USA, do these apply to life in your country as well?
Were The Matrix and George Orwell’s classic 1984 just good entertainment? Or is it possible that the social conditioning they spoke of is our everyday reality?
Consider the following…
- You aspire to happiness because that’s generally considered the gold standard of living a fulfilling, meaningful life.
- You believe that earning more money, saving for retirement or your kids’ education is the path to happiness.
- You believe that climbing the corporate ladder or making that big sale is the path to happiness.
- You believe that recognition by others of your tremendous accomplishments, good looks, and dynamite personality is the path to happiness.
- You believe that buying a new home, a slick sports car, or the latest iPhone is the path to happiness.
- You believe that going on a vacation to an exotic location is the path to happiness.
- You believe that going to church on Sunday and worshiping your God is the path to happiness.
- You believe that when you finally meet your twin flame you’ll be happy.
If none of these beliefs apply to you, then this article won’t appeal to you. Just move right along. But if you connected with a few of them, read on.
Here’s the trap.
You have those beliefs because your mind has been essentially programmed by a variety of influences — throughout your life.
It’s your social conditioning, courtesy of your masters/programmers. You have taken them to heart, and they drive your everyday thinking, decisions, and actions. They don’t benefit you much, but your masters benefit greatly when you live in accordance with your programming.
Consider, if you will…
Your parents encouraged you to get an education and be successful in a job, and introduced you to their religion.
- Reality: Of course, they want nothing but the best for you, so they guided you according to the very best ideals adopted from their own childhood programming — which they never questioned.
Your religion taught you that God is to be feared, and that he’s a harsh judge. That if you follow their dogma you will go to heaven and avoid hell when you die.
- Reality: That’s how they get you to show up on Sunday, tithe on your income, view yourself as a mere helpless sinner, and confess your sins to a man (always a man). That’s how they get you to deny your divine nature. That’s how the Vatican’s assets and influence are on a par with some of the world’s wealthiest nations; and televangelists buy multi-million dollar private jets on a whim. That’s how their priests, ministers, and bishops occupy a high pedestal in your mind.
Your schools taught you to think big thoughts and aim high for success. You probably had to take — and pay for — at least a few courses for your degree that may have been interesting (or not), but virtually useless for your chosen major. You realize now that college had plenty of courses about career skills, yet they were short on education about practical life skills and critical thinking skills. How to balance a checkbook? How to manage a family? What is the value of ethics and moral standards? How to be a kind and considerate lover? How to empathize? How to understand multiculturalism so as not to become a racist, sexist, or some other -ist? How to think critically? Nada. Not our job.
- Reality: Colleges are able to charge high tuition because they’re “preparing you for a successful career”. Banks, working in cahoots with higher education institutions, are happy to finance your education with endless student loans. Thanks to bank lobbyists and corrupt politicians gleefully doing their bidding, student loans are one of the few types of debt that can’t be discharged in bankruptcy. Lenders can even garnishee your Social Security check if the debt is still outstanding when you retire.
- Another reality: For-profit colleges typically have higher tuition rates than public colleges, very active student loan assistance staffs, and very low completion and successful placement rates. Statistics HERE.
Your job gives you hope that a promotion or a raise is just ahead, as long as you apply yourself.
- Reality: your dedicated, hard work and that of your co-workers is why the CEO probably earns more per hour than you do in a month. He truly appreciates your contributions — although, maybe not enough to reward you with a raise. Gotta control costs to maintain that stock price and earn his annual bonus for doing so!
Ad agencies promised that the new iPhone or a new BMW will change your life in a positive way; and you bought it hook, line and sinker. How much did that add to your debt load?
- Reality: Ad agencies earn their multi-million dollar ad accounts, and spend jillions on media buys because they are effective at implanting their products into your thoughts and desires. You see their slick, campy ads (among 4,000 others every day), and that’s why your thoughts about the hot new iPhone morphed from “My phone does everything I need it to do” to “I need the new iPhone65!” over a period of a few months). Now, take that elementary example and evaluate it against every gizmo, gadget, vehicle, and appliance you’ve purchased in the last year.
Social norms informed you that getting married, settling down, building a family, buying a home is the American dream. It is the normal and stable way of life. Choosing to rent instead of own, or remain single and unattached to someone is non-mainstream and a little edgy. It possibly makes you an outsider among your friends.
- Reality: Stability and conformity is highly prized by our masters. When you “fit in” you don’t question your programming!
Whatever political ideology and party you identify with dictates your opinions about abortion, health care, climate change, and dozens of other issues. They inform you what media to follow and trust, and which to believe are fake news. They demand that you distance yourself ideologically from those who think differently, sometimes separating family and long-term friends. They require that you vote for their candidates, who are rarely morality-driven, ideal public servants. And even if their candidate triggers your gag reflex, you vote for them anyway, because they’re better than the other party’s candidate (so says your politically-conditioned thinking).
- Reality: Your reliable, predictable vote is all that matters to political parties. Their organizations are preoccupied with gaining and maintaining power for their leadership. Your welfare, and that of other of their constituents, is mostly ignored unless it means more power, influence, and money for their politicians. That’s why they spend up to 50% of their time fundraising while you’re paying their salary. That’s why they vote according to lobbyists’ interests rather than yours. That’s why there are budget crises and work stoppages when they fail to reach an agreement in the 11th hour on bills that they have had months to work on. That’s why they pass welfare bills for their rich pals and corporations who fund them; usually ignoring their constituents’ welfare. That’s why the USA is $22 trillion in debt and growing by millions of bucks per minute — what the hell, the politicians are still getting their share! And sticking you, Joe Taxpayer, and all your descendants with the bill.
Happiness is widely believed to be the payoff for hard work, nose to the grindstone, earn a lot of money, achieve more, accumulate more stuff. You know, the American dream.
- Reality: a quick visual from the Happy Planet Index, which ranks countries based on four key factors related to sustainable wellbeing for all. The world’s wealthiest country — the USA — scores 108th of 140 countries. If you’re in the USA, do you ever wonder why you’re not happy yet? It’s not your fault. It’s the faulty social conditioning of the 99% for the benefit of the 1%. You know, like in The Matrix.
I could go on… but that’s enough, perhaps, to make my point.
What’s life’s biggest trap?
Thinking that your thoughts, ideas, and beliefs are yours rather than those conditioned by your programmers — to enrich them at your expense.
The freedom fighters broke the limiting chains of their programming in The Matrix. And you can, too — if you choose.
The first step is examining the source of your thoughts, and coming to acknowledge the degree to which they have been implanted in your mind by others for their own benefit — frequently at conflict with yours. And from there, craft your own unique breakout strategy.
But… it’s way easier to just succumb to the Matrix. Because when you start thinking of escaping you have to begin thinking critically, and questioning everything.
It’s way harder than conforming. It takes self-awareness, courage, determination, and willingness to give up your large investment in the status quo, and become a curious beginner in new belief systems. You become a radical thinker. Dangerous to your programmers, who advise those around you to reject you as a bit wigged-out. Abnormal.
Every day there are more of us who are breaking free and trying on alternative ways of living, doing, and being in the world. Discovering and thriving with our new-found freedom.
Will you join us?
You’ll find the membership application in your mind.