How do we break through cultural unconsciousness?

Culture has a voice. We have learned it and we speak it. Some of the things it has to say are negative and biased. No wonder so many of us grow up with addictions, false beliefs and emotional issues. Most of us are raised with parents who bought into the cultural hierarchical rules. They never questioned the falseness of these rules. They never examined the trueness of these guidelines. The truth is no one is better than anyone else. Just because you may know more facts or have greater physical strength does not equal being a better human being or being more worthy of love, life & happiness.

Different cultures have their different levels of hierarchical guidelines. My culture happened to be in the United States. Some of the implied cultural hierarchies in the U.S. are that parents are rulers over their children. Men are more important than women. Whites are more important than ‘minorities’. People are more deserving than animals. The U.S. is better than other countries. The President is more important than most everyone. Now, this may differ in other cultures and it does differ. So if these differ by culture, how can they be true?

These ‘differences’ only really exist in our minds. They are not truth. A lot of us grow up with parents constantly telling us we aren’t good enough, we don’t ‘measure up’, we aren’t important, we aren’t valuable, we are weak. Look at all the things we are told throughout the many years of childhood that are negative and not true. We become ‘conditioned’ just like our parents were. We hear it enough, we believe it. Although deep down we know it is not true. This causes the internal struggle, the rebellion. Do we give in and believe these unconscious, conditioned thoughts or do we hold true to our real sense of worth? This is a struggle we all go through. Fighting our truth against a cultural ideology.

Some people are able to see through it and push past it. These people we call ‘enlightened’. But most people come up with all kinds of different, more dysfunctional, ways to deal with this internal struggle with worthiness. Some drink alcohol, some do drugs, some turn to food and overeat or stop eating, some go on shopping sprees and spend more money than they have in their bank account, some turn everyone into their enemy and become aggressive against the world, and some turn to high risk/dangerous hobbies (thrill seekers). I am sure there are more coping mechanisms out there than these, but this just highlights some of the extremes people go to to deal with the loss of their true identity through cultural conditioning.

So, this is our struggle. We are all going through it at some level at some time. And as long as we continue to buy into this false hierarchy of worth, we will continue to pass it on from generation to generation. So my question is, what are you going to pass on to your kids? Are you going to stick to the cultural lies in your child rearing or are you going to show your child that they are important just for who they are? Their paycheck does not determine their importance. Their title does not determine their importance. Their degree does not determine their importance. Their athleticism does not determine their importance. Their gender or race does not determine their importance. We do not see how we perpetuate and set up our children for failure at very young ages. They need to be who society tells them to be, not who they feel they want to be. They need to be something other than the way they are. This is how we strip the authenticity away from our children. Heck, it was done to most of us. But we can be the change, we do not have to be part of the problem. Do you have the strength, the courage, to look at the messages you were given growing up and see what you need to change to have your child grow up in a better, more authentic world? This is a place I hope we can all come to as we are guiding our children into adulthood. You can start by simply asking yourself these three questions. What is one thing you remember learning from your parents/culture that you felt was not right growing up? How did this affect you? How did you deal with it?

photo credit: SalkantayTrekMachu Machu Picchu Tours via photopin (license)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *