Ever thought about how areas of your life can actually be contaminated — polluted by experiences and emotional associations in your early life?
In today’s episode Judith & Jim will help you dig into this as it applies to your life, your much larger life and your current fear of being fabulous. So please give some thought to how early upbringing can twist how people think about other people’s race, religion, and other cultures. Think about how kids learn to make fun of other kids, to bully and badger them. They weren’t born that way. They learned it. And they think it’s okay. Those are the results of contamination!
So how has your life, and the way you relate to yourself, been contaminated by your early experiences?
Ep.138 ~ Unconscious Contamination ~ TRANSCRIPT
Ever thought about how areas of your life can actually be contaminated—polluted by associations in your early life?
Before we dig into this as it applies to your life, your much larger life and your current fear of being fabulous, please give some thought to how early upbringing can twist how people think about other people’s race, religion, other cultures.
Think about how kids learn to make fun of other kids, to bully, and badger. They weren’t born that way. They learned it. And they think it’s okay. Those are the results of contamination!
Hi I’m Judith Sherven and I’m Jim Sniechowski
And we welcome you to another podcast in our “Overcoming the Fear of Being Fabulous” series. Our topic is what we call “Unconscious Contamination”.
Today we invite you into the dark recesses of Unconscious Contamination—how we’ve all been brain-washed when we were too young to disagree or fight for a better way of thinking and/or feeling about things.
We came to this perspective, about contamination, when we went to France and Italy on our honeymoon in 1988. Being there prompted us to share our initial experiences of Europe when we were each in our 20s, not with each other of course—we didn’t meet until we were in our 40s.
Curiously, in our 20s we’d both enjoyed how free and easy going we’d felt in those initial European travels compared with who we knew ourselves to be back in the United States where we still lived in the cities where we’d been influenced. In discussing this extraordinary time of open exploration during our initial European adventures, we realized that the reason we were so carefree was that the concept and experience of “Europe” was totally Uncontaminated.
Exactly. The fact was that not one of our parents or other family members had ever been outside the United States, and therefore had never said anything about what it was like to travel in other countries. So, our experiences in Europe were completely uncontaminated. Or to put it another way—we were free from contamination in how we approached and experienced ourselves when we first visited a variety of countries in Europe.
We had no biases about other nationalities, about their cultures, their foods, their behaviors. So we were wide open to whatever adventures occurred and we each had a uniquely rare and marvelous time.
Then, when we returned to the United States, and remember this was back in our 20s, we were each shocked by how stifled and closed in we felt. We didn’t have a name for it then—but everything was contaminated by how we’d been raised, by how we’d already put our lives into grooves that forestalled more exploratory behaviors.
So now we ask you: What’s the first thing that comes to mind in your life that has been contaminated by how you were taught to think about it?
It could be how you think about yourself, your work or career, money, your car, physical fitness, travel, friends, having children, entertaining, anything.
For example, my relationship with food is seriously contaminated by my childhood working class Polish diet. Mostly it consisted of white food. Pierogi, noodles, bread, cake, etc etc etc. Vegetables and even fruits were rare. They were not what my parents were used to, so therefore not what I was given to eat. Food still remains contaminated for me to this day. If it weren’t for Judith making salads and steaming veggies I’d probably only eat vegetables when I put tomatoes and pickles on my hamburgers. And fruit? Well, there are strawberries in one of my preferred ice cream flavors! But my favorite—you guessed it. Vanilla. It’s white, just like what was served in my house.
Looking at this issue of contamination even more deeply, when your abilities, your desires have been contaminated by negative, doubt-making input from your parents or other influencers in your life, then YOUR very own VALUE has been contaminated!
For example, for many children, when they have a bright adventuresome idea and speak about it, they are met with something like “Who do you think you are Miss Smarty Pants?” or “People like us don’t do things like that Young Man. Know your place.”
Take a minute and think about what happened when you brought home your report cards. Did you hide them or make up lies in order to not receive criticism or even a beating if you didn’t get straight As? If you had all As but one B, did one or both of your parents harp on the “B” like it was a national disgrace? That’s what happens in many homes even today. Or did your parents blow it off when they saw your Cs and Bs, giving you the feeling that they believed you couldn’t do any better than that so why bother to help you be a better student?
Even though my father learned there was a high-end private college prep Jesuit taught high school serving the sons of the automotive industry executives, which I was able to get into, my intelligence was so down-played in my house that when a Jesuit English teacher publicly called out a story I’d written about the word “somber” as being exceptional, I couldn’t believe I deserved it. I thought he was just an idiot, and no one I needed to respect or believe.
What kinds of contamination are you still living with today?
What types of limitations do you still impose on yourself that came from how you were raised?
For instance: I’ll take the issue of Exercise. When I was a girl, my dad spoke to me about riding my bicycle only as exercise. “Hey Judi, he’d say, because I was Judi until age 30, why don’t you go outside and ride your bicycle and get some exercise.” There was never the association of riding a bicycle for fun and feeling free. And yet when I see people out riding their bicycles on a sunny afternoon, they look like they are having fun! But when I think about doing it myself, it still looks like work, like boring exercise.
How about the notion of Work? So many people comment with awe, on how we can coach 8 or 9 hours a day and never get tired. Part of it is we don’t think of it as “work.” We experience coaching as helping people overcome their fear of being fabulous, in whatever ways they may need. Since this is something we have a long-lasting passion for, how can it be boring or tiresome? Yet, we are aware that what we do wasn’t contaminated by how our parents talked about ”work.” They had no idea about making their living by helping people develop themselves and their careers.
Then there’s Love and Relationships. First, what did you absorb about relationships from how your parents’ functioned with each other? Did they fight a lot? Were they shut down and never talked about anything serious? Did they get divorced? Remember, you were absorbing whatever it was like, just like a sponge, before you could even begin to understand how it was affecting your ideas about dating, relationships, and marriage. How do you see those early experiences still contaminating how you behave in relationships today, what you expect from others today?
Okay now, when you feel stuck in some way, take a few moments to look back on your early years and see if there is some kind of contamination going on today that is blocking you from a more spontaneous, more confident response. We’re hoping you can allow listening to this podcast to influence you in a positive manner and allow you to have a more confident, more assertive response going forward. And yes, there can certainly be positive contamination, giving you better underpinnings going forward into your life. So watch for that too!
If you want to dig into these issues more deeply on your own, be sure to check out our program also called “Overcoming The Fear of Being Fabulous” –
available in audio download and in a CD collection.
Just go to overcomingthefearofbeingfabulous.com
Until the next time!