Tuesday, 16 March 2010

An "I didn't think I could do that!" moment...

I love children! They have no inhibitions; if they want to try something they do it with no care or concern that they might fail or popular opinion! Every day is an adventure, every failure a discovery of, 'what not to do when I try that again in a minute experience. Popular opinion bares no relevance, offence is not something they understand and fear is not in their vocabulary. So they march through life, like 'mini' Rambo's, taking no prisoners in the adventure called life. Children as a result, develop rapidly, take everything in their stride, and adapt to change easily, recover quicker and have so much more fun! 

The problem is they grow up! Once intrinsically fearless and adventurous, now cautious, predictable, triple insured (not that insurance in and of itself is bad) and busy concerning themselves with the opinion of others and 'how I will look if I...' In a nutshell, socially conditionedSocial conditioning can be understood as representing the role of 'Nurture' in the Nature vs. Nurture debate [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_conditioning]  

Social conditioning introduces us to limitations; highlighting the genuine and creating the imagined. I will take the liberty of classifying limitations accordingly; 'genuine' and 'created'. A genuine limitation for example is that a day is only 24 hours long so whatever you plan to achieve, it needs to be done in that window of opportunity. A created limitation for example is that you are born to do or be one specific thing; in schools this is supported by children being assessed and then being directed down the "sciences" or "arts" routes of education. Limitation can be defined as a limiting condition; restrictive weakness; lack of capacity; inability or handicap [ http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/limitation]. Genuine limitations are simply challenges and there is often a way to overcome them or operate within them. 

The real stumbling block is created limitations. These are the things that we are told from a young age, they can appear positive as well as negative but the result is the same, boxing you into a specific role function or journey and the result can often feel like entrapment for some who eventually rebel and choose to completely change their lives and re-invent themselves. The majority of us are not so fortunate... We live our lives in 'boxed limitation'  in the form of our race, nationality, geographical location, career paths, self-expression, relationships and worst of all fear of being different in a world governed by social norms... Who is to say that we have to choose between being an artist and a business person? Or be a philosopher and a surgeon? Why is it that we have to work in a job for life and then die? Surely the life choices of our friends and families should not hinder us from venturing out and beyond? Does one need to be exceedingly gifted at a particular discipline in order to pursue it? And if one is indeed so gifted does that mean they are destined to pursue only that discipline, ignoring any other inclination they may have towards something else? 

It is often the little things that social conditioning robs us of the most through the avenue of fear... Fear of failure being the chief of these. My mum taught me the basic fundamentals of cooking and baking. There are in baking as there are in all things, levels of skill and for me, the true test of a baker is the quality and ability to make chocolate cake. A test I have been petrified of taking for fear of failure. It’s been like that for over a decade! Silly really I know because I can make other cakes, but in my own personal 'social conditioning', a true baker must be able to make a chocolate cake. Lately as I have been pondering this very topic, I have started to challenge anything that I did not make a conscious informed decision about. Anything I did because 'that’s what is expected' or 'has always been done that way'. I am pleased to report that I embarked on a journey of no return, throwing caution to the wind and make, you guessed it! a chocolate cake...

This is it! a slice of my chocolate cake!!!

A limitation in law refers to; the assignment, as by statute, the period of time assigned: a statute of limitations. A far more positive interpretation on the word than in everyday life as it indicates a time limit within which a state of being can exist. Thereafter, things change... In the spirit of the law in putting an end to a claim after a limited period. 

I propose a limitation on the influence of social conditioning from this point on. Having had this imposition on our freedom to be all we can be; let us move forward, clear out of the boxes that have imprisoned us and stunted our growth and venture out into the world of possibilities and do all the things we just didn't think we had the skill, ability, breeding or option to do! 
Live a life without borders...

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