Chapter 1


Wadda You Know?


To be conscious that you are ignorant
is a great step to knowledge.

~ Benjamin Disraeli


I like feet.  I know, many of you might think this is a weird proclivity, but I like feet.  I like my feet massaged; in fact, I like to give foot massages.  Having a pedicure is one of my favorite things.  I’m not exactly sure from where this interest comes, nor from where many of the other interests in which I engage come either.  I am a railroad aficionado, as well.  I love trains!  I love to ride them, collect railroad memorabilia, and I have a model railroad in my home that I built with my own two hands.  From where do these attachments come?  What influences throughout my life created the likes and dislikes I carry with me?  But, I digress.  I was talking about feet.

I have absolutely lovely feet.  I do!  Or, so I’ve been told.  But, there are people in the world who don’t like feet.  I don’t understand them.  They can’t stand feet.  “Eww, they’re gross.” they say.  Why is that?  Feet are not gross to me.  Feet are wonderful, particularly mine.  I offer to show them to people but they apparently don’t want to see them.  As evidence, a couple of months ago I was having a pedicure and the pedicurist was massaging my feet and clipping my nails and she looked up at me and said, “You have very nice feet.”  I said, “I know!”  But why do I like feet and someone else not like feet?  What’s the difference between us?  Because I’ve been told I have nice feet?  Possibly.

Perhaps I need to go back to an earlier point in life when I was lying in my crib at about two months old, maybe three.  Imagine this.  I was three months old, lying in my crib . . . you might even remember a similar experience . . . I was looking at the world thinking, “Wow, what’s this mobile thing flying around my head?”  Not in English, though.  I hadn’t learned that yet.  All of a sudden two feet appeared.  And I thought, “Oh, interesting!”  Then I grabbed them, and – because really at that point in my life the only thing that mattered was taste – what was going through my mind was, “Is this food?”  And, into my mouth they went.  I sucked on them for a while and thought, “Hmmm, it tickles a bit.  I wonder where that’s coming from?”  But I didn’t know.  I was thinking, “Hmm, it tastes good, somewhat.  Tastes like baby powder, but…”

Now mom could have done one of two things when she came into the room and saw me nibbling on my feet.  She could have either said, “Oh look, you’re nibbling on your feet, does it taste good?  Are you having fun?”  Or, mom could have come in and said in a gruff manner, “Take those feet out of your mouth, that’s dirty. Take them out of your mouth right now!”  I might have thought to myself, “Oh, I didn’t know that they were dirty.  What does dirty mean, anyway?  But thanks, mom, for telling me, for teaching me about feet.”  That, then, becomes a program that runs in the background of my mind, in my subconscious; I have developed an attitude toward feet.

Some of you like feet and some of you detest them, and it could be as simple as a few words in passing from mom that determined an attitude that followed you throughout your life.  This is only one tiny example of an attitude that resides in your subconscious.  As you have continued to experience life, you have developed attitudes toward just about everything.


∞        ∞        ∞



Basically, you have been conditioned your entire life. You are incredibly conditioned, or programmed, by the influence of all of your experiences with family, society, media, religion; you name it, you’ve been conditioned by it.  Some people like to call it brainwashing.  But, brainwashing would indicate that there was something dirty about it to begin with and it needed cleaning.  It’s not really brainwashing, it’s programming.  You have been programmed.  Your entire life, you’ve been programmed; and, that programming runs deep in your subconscious mind.  And it is from that conditioning, and those attitudes, that you interact with, and judge, everything and everybody in the world.

I had been having some trouble with my computer over the last few months.  The thing’s been running a little bit sluggishly and running hot.  It’s a laptop, so I bought one of those laptop fans to put underneath it to cool it off.  I talked to some friends about it and they said, “Oh, that’s probably because it has a virus.  That will make it run hot.”  I have an antivirus program, so I ran that and nothing indicated the computer was contaminated, so I took it into the shop to have it tested.  The technician at the shop said, “No.  I checked it for everything; it doesn’t have any viruses at all.”  “Then what’s the problem?” I asked.  He said, “Well, you know, after you have a computer for a long period of time there are programs that run in the background that you may be unaware of.”  I thought, run in the background?  “What are you talking about?”

He said that when I boot up my computer, the programs currently installed on the computer boot up as well and just continually run in the background.  They wait until I want to open a particular file or application and they spring into action.  As I added more programs over time, they all open when I boot up the computer and run, silently, in the background waiting to see if they’ll be needed.  They wait so the computer can open the program immediately when it’s needed, without having to wait for the program to boot.

Every time I take the card from my digital camera and plug it into my computer, four programs provide their prompts and ask if I want to open the photos with this or that application.  These are all running in the background when my computer is booted up.  You, too, have programs that are running in the background, silently, unconsciously, waiting.


∞        ∞        ∞


You came into the world with an empty mind.  Tabula rasa, as it’s called, or blank slate.  Your mind is a blank slate, unless perhaps your parents talked to you while you were in the womb.  Even then, your programming just started a bit earlier than some.  Or, perhaps your parents may have played music to you while you were in the womb.  Depending on the type of music they played, attitudes could have started to develop at an early point in your fetal development.  If your parents played a lot of Rolling Stones songs while you were in development, you could have gone sliding through the birth canal humming, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” and that’s really not the way you want to enter the world.  That establishes a precedent for the rest of your life, don’t you think?  You don’t want that.

After you were born, your parents began teaching you what they thought was right and what was wrong and started filling your mind with the things they wanted you to think or believe in; not that there was anything wrong with that.  They were doing the best they could, while teaching you the things they believed and the way they were taught to think by their parents as they were growing up.  Unfortunately, for most of us, that thinking was conditioned thinking and mostly unconscious as well.  Your parents were passing their programming on to you in the process.

Unfortunately, however, most of that programming is through negative input: negative words.  Don’t!  No!  Put that down!  Some of the input might be positive, I’m sure, but there’s a tendency for most of our feedback from others and to others to be negative.  I’m not quite sure why that is.  Positive words are much more powerful than negative words.  A few people have told me that they don’t feel a need to say anything positive, because when expectations are met, there’s no need to say something because all is well (more on expectations later).  That leaves only the negative behaviors that get the attention, hence we comment on what we don’t like rather than what we do like.  However you have been reared, be it through positive feedback or negative feedback, this is your programming and these programs, literally, run your life.

Over time, you build up these programs that run in the back of your mind, in your unconscious mind, and part of that programming is about who you are.  One of the ways you come to know who you are is through the things people tell you.  We call these reflected appraisals (much more about these later).  When you were growing up your father might have said, “You’re a good boy, you did that very well.”  Or, “Why did you do that?  That was stupid!”  As you take those comments in, they become part of the programs that run in your unconscious mind.   “He says I’m a good boy.”  Or, “I suck at that.”  In either case, these are programs that continually run, waiting for a situation to arise where we need to access that information and there it is: “I suck at that.”

Much of our programming consists of negative patterns of thinking.  I’m not the right weight.  I don’t have the right face.  I don’t have the right that.  I’m not the right this.  We’re bombarded with various value judgments from parents, extended family, as well as society through the media, as we continue to grow, that tell us the way we should think and the way we should behave.  We must have the right this, the right that.  These are the programs that are continually running in the background and they control who we are.

Within this background programming is all of your knowledge, your set of values, beliefs, and attitudes about everything – absolutely everything!  Every experience you have ever had has contributed to your set of knowledge and values.  Have you ever taken a few minutes (or days, or even weeks) to have a good look at that set of knowledge and asked, “Why do I have this attitude about this person or this group of people or this thing?  Why do I believe this about myself?  To develop a deeper understanding of these attitudes and beliefs, you need to become conscious of these thought patterns and how they originally developed.

The first step toward consciousness is to appreciate just how limited your understanding is.  I’m sure you’ve heard the term “narrow-mindedness.”  It’s usually used as a way of describing someone who can’t accept new ideas or new ways of doing things.  You judge people when they don’t think or believe as you do and you label them narrow-minded because they don’t see things similarly as you do.

If you think about how much knowledge is available to all of us in the entire universe, and compare that to what we individually know, all of us are narrow-minded.  We all have a limited set of experiences, a limited set of programming from our upbringing, and yet we think we know all we need to know to live an effective life.  Perhaps we can live effective lives with that information.  However, we run into problems when we see our ways of thinking and behaving as the right way of thinking and behaving and judge others, from that frame of reference, as wrong.

If you have ever been to a professional NFL football game, you are aware of the vastness in size and scope of a sports stadium.  Imagine, if you will, that you are standing in the hallway at a concession stand purchasing some refreshments before the game.  As you turn down the hall, you head for the smaller hallway that leads to your seat in your particular section of the stadium.  It actually resembles a tube you walk through to get into the stadium proper.

Now imagine that all of the knowledge in the universe is in the stadium.  As you turn from the concession hallway and enter the tube that leads to your section, you can only see a very small portion of the stadium through the opening at the other end of the tube, probably just a few rows of seats on the opposite side of the stadium.  The amount of knowledge you have accumulated to date is as finite as are your experiences because there are only so many things you can do in a lifetime, and so little time.  This view down the tube into the stadium then represents your current set of knowledge, or your base of knowledge, as it were.  As you continue through your life, you take steps (mostly baby-steps) down the hallway to your seat in the stadium increasing your knowledge and expanding your knowledge base.