You = Your Friends

blindfold-critique-joshua-david-lynchAs humans, we learn from social conditioning. We are able to learn how the world works from others. Social conditioning is often good for us, and it helps you out a lot more than you probably give it credit for.


When you got on an airplane for the first time why did you trust that you would safely be brought up to an altitude of 30,000 feet without the plane exploding into a fireball? Did you feel safe because you knew all the minute details about the fuel injection system the plane uses to accurately fuel its huge engines? Did you personally test the Bernoulli effect in physics class to make certain that it would lift the plane off the runway? Did you test that the wing flaps worked before taking off?


Of course you didn’t. So why did you feel that the plane would work safely?


Put very simply, you felt secure because everyone else did. You looked around and saw all the people flying and you thought to yourself, “If nobody else is worried, I shouldn’t be either.” When it comes to flying in airplanes, taking the subway, or interacting with any of the other hundreds of objects that you just trust will work, social conditioning is great. If you spent your whole life afraid to drive a car because you didn’t know how the engine worked you wouldn’t be a very effective individual would you?


Social conditioning can also have negative effects, however. We learn from those around us, so what happens when we put ourselves around the wrong people? Some people get addicted to some terrible drugs because everyone around them was using them. Some people learn that stealing is okay because they hang out with thieves. Kids who grow up with violent parents learn that violence is the best way to solve their problems.


Usually, what we learn from social conditioning isn’t quite so dramatic. People who come from normal, functioning families from normal, functioning neighborhoods also learn from social conditioning. Because your parents went to college you are likely to think that college is a good investment. If your parents were scientists you are more likely to consider becoming a researcher. If you’re in high school and a group of your friends decides to start smoking pot you are more likely to try pot yourself.


Social conditioning is powerful and it can affect you in both good and bad ways. Once you know what it is and how it affects you, you can use it to your advantage.


You can control how you act by changing the people you spend time with. If you want to be a successful entrepreneur spend time with successful entrepreneurs and their mannerisms will rub off on you. If you want to be a famous author, spend time with published authors and you’ll absorb their most important lessons. If you want to be a great public speaker, join your local Toastmasters club and spend time with paid speakers who know how to engage a crowd.


Social conditioning will have an effect on you whether you decide to use it to your advantage or not. Scott Dinsmore, founder of the Live Your Legend movement, said that his life changed as soon as he began spending time around people who were doing what he wanted to be able to do. Spending time around successful bloggers rubbed off on him, and now he is an exceptionally successful blogger!


Social conditioning is a powerful ‘life hack’. Use it to your advantage. By changing the people you spend time with you will be able to change yourself.