Making sense of childhood conditioning

Colleen Emily Moore
5 min readAug 9, 2020

4 steps to identifying & re-framing your own learned beliefs

Women sitting on stadium steps with a chestnut sweatshirt and black jeans deep in thought.
Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

Childhood conditioning is the process of beliefs, thinking patterns or behaviours being learned and reinforced over time. These beliefs are imprinted into your subconscious by the age of about 8 and will form the foundation of what all other information gets filtered through.

We learn these things through observing and interacting with our main care givers. Up until the age of about 8 or 9 children we like sponges as our brain is in the impressionable Theta state when we have the closest access to our subconscious brain (also the same state you are aiming to achieve in meditation and the brain state that happens just as you wake up and just as you fall asleep). At this age we are also egocentric, believing things happen to us and for us.

The beliefs, learned behaviours and thinking patterns you have will almost certainly be subconscious, that is to say you won’t necessarily be aware of them.

When can conditioning become problematic?

You will without realising it lean on this conditioning, it will be your filter. For example; If you grew up in a household where your parents tended to only give you attention and show you love when you achieved something, you would have learned that attention and love is conditional and has to be earned. As an adult this could drive you to continually push yourself to achieve in order to gain external validation and feel “good enough”.

Why? Because this is what is familiar to you and the way you have been conditioned to behave.

Conditioning is not always bad and can be an important way as children we understand how to behave and function in our society. But, being aware of your own childhood conditioning can bring these filters into conscious awareness and give us the opportunity to change our behaviours, beliefs and thinking patterns.

Where do I start?

Unlearning learnt behaviours and or thinking patterns can be a tricky process and one that can take a degree of determination and patience.

Colleen Emily Moore
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Behavioural Change Coach. Neuroscience BSc. Supporting women create clarity & confidence by letting go of ‘not good enough’ www.colleenemily.com