Challenging our Conditioning
I believe that we can change our conditioning,
however entrenched it may seem to be. We have free
will and right now, there is nothing that can stop
you from changing almost anything about your life
that brings stress or discomfort, or at the very
least change your attitude. You may think there are
plenty of reasons and I am not for a minute
suggesting that you immediately quit your job,
leave your partner or take up rollerblading. I am
just saying that there is nothing that stops you
from doing any of these things. You have free will.
You can change almost whatever you want.
The same goes for our internal conditioning. We
can reprogramme ourselves. If we
dont like things that are regularly entering
our lives, then the best place to start is by
beginning to change the messages that we are
putting out. To have success with this process it
may not even be necessary to delve into the past
for traumatic events or deep-rooted attitude
problems that go back to childhood influences. It
may be no more complicated to start with than
sitting down with a pen and paper and writing down
the things that we would like to start experiencing
in our life now.
A man in black breaks into your office late one
night and re-programmes your computer so that it
malfunctions in a subtle, but very destructive way.
Several weeks later, after much despair, you
discover the change in the programme. How do you
decide to fix it? By trying to work out how you
could travel back in time and try to stop him from
changing the programme? Or by putting the correct
programme in now?
How do we change that programme or conditioning?
In my work with men it has become clear that
identifying what it is that we want in life is
often a common stumbling block. It is extraordinary
how so few of us may really seem to know what we
are living for. And yet how can we expect to be
happier with our lives if we dont even know
what would make us happy?
One way of finding out what it is in life that
we do want may be through the identification of
those things in life that we fear happening to us.
It is interesting how often finding out what you
dont want will lead you to a clearer
understanding of what you do.
By writing down our fears we bring them into
consciousness and make it that much easier to seek
the opposite - something that we would really like
or enjoy. Let us suppose, for instance, that you
fear running out of money. Its a very common
fear. Now let us turn that around and identify
exactly what it is that you want money for. I
want the money to... (list those things
precisely that you want money for now). Envisage
each item clearly. As you do this you will find
that the thought of having the money for that
specific purpose (or purposes) gives you a powerful
and positive feeling. It is from such a base, a
positive one as defined by love as opposed to a
negative one as defined by fear, that you start to
create your new conditioning.
Through this straightforward process, fear is
acknowledged and then becomes the tool which leads
us to where we want to go. Fear becomes our friend,
our guide. There is a saying that fear is
only ever love disguised.
Do not be put off by an intellect that tells you
that you have no fears. Many men think they fear
nothing, only to find out subsequently that they
have many fears they are not addressing. We all
have fears. Fear of death, fear of redundancy, fear
of not being able to pay the mortgage, fear of
never having children - all common examples. Once
you start being honest with yourself you will find
there is plenty of information from which you can
start to make changes.
Michael & Sara
Michael and his partner had been trying to have
a baby for many years. They had been through all
the tests, tried orthodox and unorthodox means, but
had still not managed to conceive, and no-one could
locate a problem.
Social pressure had combined with their own lack
of clarity to produce a very tense situation.
Michael felt the backlash of many barbed comments
from colleagues questioning his sexual ability. To
a man an inability to help conceive a child is
often judged as the ultimate sign of failure. In
the end they made contact with me to see if there
was a block in their thinking.
In our first meeting I suggested we look at what
fears existed in their lives. At first Michael in
particular found this challenging, and was unable
to list anything about which he was fearful. Sara,
his partner, was not so shy in coming forward.
I fear never having a child. I fear having
a child and losing the life that Michael and I have
together. I fear the danger in the world that this
child is being brought into. I fear that if I
dont work we will not have enough money to do
the things we want to do. I fear becoming a
housewife and having to go to coffee
mornings. I fear not being able to travel so much.
I fear giving birth. I fear ante-natal
classes. The list went on.
Michael remained relatively silent, although he
was clearly quite astonished at the depth of
Saras feelings. I encouraged Sara to start
making these fears into things that she really
wanted. I fear giving birth became
I want to trust my body. I fear
the danger in the world became I want
to feel safe. I fear losing the life
Michael and I have together became I
want to enjoy my life to its maximum
potential. I fear not being able to
have a child became I want to be able
to have a child at the perfect time. And so
on with the others.
I then asked them to think about how this list
would look if they put it in order of priority.
Their greatest want first. There was a silence. A
long silence. Neither of them felt clear that the
greatest priority at that time was in fact having a
baby. There was clear uncertainty between becoming
parents and enjoying their lives and freedom as
they had been used to.
I suggested that, until they were absolutely
clear that their greatest desire was having a
child, conception might itself remain uncertain.
Being a very caring couple, if they had conceived
and subsequently had a child, they would almost
certainly have experienced great confusion and
guilt at times when they found themselves putting
their own needs ahead of their childs.
This recognition of their truth, through the
listing of their fears, was like a huge weight
lifting for Michael and Sara. I was basically
helping them to give themselves permission to stop
thinking that they had to have a baby. They both
realised that it was okay not to be certain that
they wanted to start a family yet. They have since
let go of their fear of not having children and are
currently still assessing their needs and desires.
In the meantime, theyre really enjoying
1) Be prepared to challenge any limiting beliefs
that you have acquired throughout your life.
2) Consider change in any area of your life.
Dont necessarily make any changes
immediately, just think about it. Remember when you
limit change to certain things, you may be stopping
the good stuff from getting even better! Be open to
3) You are in charge of your life, no-one else
is. Start taking responsibility for everything.
©2008, Barry Durdant-Hollamby
Durdant-Hollamby is the founder of The
a UK based organisation specialising in helping
individuals and corporations to effect sustainable,
holistic, positive change. He works intuitively on
a 1-1 or group basis and also conducts many talks
and seminars - all without notes or preparation!
Barry is also the author of three books the latest
of which is The
Male Agenda - a book
which seeks to inspire men to create greater life
balance and happiness. He is the father of two
daughters and lives in the South East of England.
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