A young client said he’d been unfairly arrested for assault while defending himself. When I asked him to describe the incident he told me the person he'd hit had called him a punk.
"He hit you and then called you a punk?" I asked him.
"No," replied the client. "He called me a punk and then I hit him."
“Then that’s not self-defense,” I told him. “That’s why you were charged with assault.”
The client attempted to rationalize that he was justified in hitting the man because he was standing up for himself. His father had taught him as boy that verbal assaults were as bad as physical assaults – and deserved a vigorous defense.
I explained to the client that he’d likely have similar problems in the future unless he changed this belief. He left my office trying to absorb this information.
This man is no different than many of us who are operating on damaging information programmed into our sub-conscious as children.
For example, many of us were taught to “clean our plate” when eating - regardless of what our stomachs told us. And as a consequence we gain weight because today we blindly obey subconscious programming.
Examples of good programming include:
"Honor thy parents"
"Education is important"
"Love they neighbor"
Examples of bad programming might include:
"We’re better than those _____________ people"
"You’ll never amount to anything"
"You’re not as smart as your brother"
Until we start questioning the negative programming we’ve lived with for years we might not have much of a chance at success – and our self-esteem will remain poor.