Thursday, March 27, 2008

Inner Conditioning, A Story

One formal definition for the word "conditioning", when used in a psychological sense, is "the process of behavior modification by which a subject comes to associate a desired behavior with a previously unrelated stimulus". Usually, in conversation, this word is meant to convey how one can be deeply, at times unconsciously, influenced by their family or culture to think or behave in a certain way with respect to various aspects of life and people.

The term "inner conditioning" can be used to denote the type of conditioning that surfaces naturally from the depths of our psyche such as how we are mentally and emotionally influenced by our dreams or the deeper thoughts and desires that surface on their own. (Synchronistic conditioning, which I spoke of in my previous post named Synchronicity, goes one step further by highlighting the synchronistic events we experience in our daily lives.)

This weekend, I experienced a simple form of inner conditioning. There is a restaurant in a part of the city I live in, San Francisco, which I am extremely fond of visiting these days. Throughout the week, I dream of going there because of the inspiration that naturally arises by dining in its special atmosphere.

This last Sunday, as I parked my car a few blocks away and started walking towards it, I realized that I suddenly felt no desire to go to that restaurant. Instead, I felt the need to visit another one which I used to frequent regularly many months ago. I decided to walk by my original choice just to see why my desire had suddenly left me and I found out that it was closed for Easter Sunday.

One way to look at it is that my inner conditioning helped divert my feelings of disappointment of dreaming about this restaurant all week only to find it closed when I finally got there. This little help or nudge is a very simple story but I believe that it points to a very fundamental aspect of our inner development, that our inner perspectives and desires shift and turn almost unconsciously according to an underlying order that is beyond our own conscious understanding. This generates a naturally flowing psychological movement which is constructive to our development over time, informed by the supracognitive abilities of our inner selves.

The question is: How much of our lives and our perspectives are influenced by this form of conditioning? My guess is: Quite a lot, especially if we allow ourselves to live intuitively and freely go with the ebb and flow of life. Sometimes, the tiniest of whims which surfaces on its own can serve as a thread which, once pulled, produces a constellation of experience essential for our personal development in the long run.


Evita said...

Very well said and so, so true. Too bad we don't all realize this yet :)

Charles Sapp said...

Great post and two thumbs up just for being from the Bay Area, I personally am from the South Bay (San Jose).

I find this relative in the most part due to the self realization of "inner conditioning" as of recent and playing a psychological tug-of-war, balancing the mental and emotional influences that have shaped and evolved my process of living abroad and awaiting my transition of returning home. All of your work is excellent! BTW what is the name of the restaurant?

Makram Abu-Shakra (M.A.S.) said...

I have many friends from San Jose. The restaurant I mentioned was Cafe Divine in North Beach:

I liked the word you used "tug-of-war", a well fitting description of the dissonant expressions of desire that sometimes arise from the various layers of the self.

Thanks for your comments, everyone.