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The Patterns of Our Lives: Navigating Instinct, Environment, and Upbringing

The Making of Us: Instinct, Environment, and Upbringing

Our lives are shaped by instinct, environment, and upbringing. These components intertwine to create the patterns and behaviors that guide us toward success. Let's explore this through a few personal examples.

Small Town Life: A Singular Perspective

I was raised in a small town in North America. If you've ever read Groundhog Day or seen the movie, it's kind of like Punxsutawney. In my tiny, deeply religious hometown, diversity was scarce. It wasn't until I was 19 that I met my first non-white, non-Christian individual.

My understanding of different cultures came solely from the media I consumed. For a large part of my life, my only reference for African American culture was Will Smith, a great man but not representative of all black people.

This limited perspective was something I had to grapple with when I moved to a metropolitan area later in life. Adjusting to a more diverse environment was challenging. I had to confront and overcome the narrow worldview instilled in me by my upbringing. This process involved unlearning certain biases and broadening my understanding of different cultures and experiences. It was a transformative period that reshaped my outlook on life and deepened my empathy for others.

Exposure to Poverty: A New Understanding

In my early 20s, I visited poorer parts of England and met a friend who had never traveled as far as London. This was akin to living in Chicago and never visiting Seattle. As I got to know him and his family better, I learned they were entrenched in generational poverty. For him, having a job that provided an apartment and allowed for small luxuries like video games and travel was a significant achievement. This was a stark contrast to my middle-class upbringing in North America, where my parents could afford luxuries like timeshares.

Understanding his perspective helped me appreciate the different standards of success people hold based on their backgrounds. For my friend, escaping the cycle of poverty and achieving financial stability was a monumental success. For me, raised in a more affluent environment, success was measured differently. These differing standards influenced our ambitions and life goals, highlighting how environment and upbringing shape our definitions of success.

Habitual Reactions: Breaking the Cycle

Our upbringing and environment shape our viewpoints. As children, we subscribe to the beliefs of our family and friends, which gain approval and become our own. This phenoculture—our learned behaviors and responses—helps us survive and succeed within our social groups. But what happens when we need to resist or change these ingrained behaviors?

A good example of this is the four-day workweek. It makes sense for salaried employees who can negotiate for the same pay with fewer workdays. However, this concept doesn't apply to hourly workers who rely on every hour of work for their livelihood. This difference in perspective highlights how our environments and financial situations shape our views on work and success.

Understanding and altering our habitual reactions can be challenging. After leaving an abusive relationship, I found myself anxious whenever my current partner came home from work. Recognizing the cause of my anxiety, I took steps to create a calm environment to reduce my stress. This process of self-awareness and intentional change is similar to cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps us identify and overcome our habitual patterns.

Growing up, I was taught that academic success was the key to life. However, I later realized the importance of social connections, especially in career longevity. My friends, who may have been less academically qualified, were more successful because they knew how to build and maintain relationships—an essential skill I lacked.

The Importance of Social Connections

The social aspect of life is crucial for success and fulfillment. It extends beyond career achievements and academic prowess. Building and nurturing relationships provide support, opportunities, and a sense of belonging. Recognizing this, I began to focus on developing my social skills and forming meaningful connections with others.

Conclusion: Awareness and Choice

Understanding where our behaviors and beliefs come from allows us to make more informed choices. Whether it's recognizing the impact of our upbringing, challenging preconditioned responses, or valuing social connections, self-awareness is the first step toward growth. As I continue my journey, I aim to explore these concepts further and share my insights with you all.

By examining our backgrounds and the factors that shape us, we can better understand ourselves and others. This awareness opens the door to personal growth and the possibility of change. It's a journey of self-discovery that requires introspection, empathy, and the willingness to challenge long-held beliefs.

Claim Your Free Movement Quest!

As you embark on your own journey of self-discovery and growth, I invite you to explore the transformative power of movement. Claim your free movement quest at and experience the benefits of the Feldenkrais Method.

Try a free movement quest with me and discover new ways to enhance your well-being and unlock your potential.

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