Updated: Apr 22, 2022
I began working full-time for my husband's family when I was only nineteen years old. At the time, my soon-to-be in-laws were entrepreneurs who owned five restaurants. I was still in college and in the midst of a major identity crisis.
A habitual overachiever, I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in only three years. But the problem was that I had no idea who I was or what I wanted to do with my life. I was smart and had a great attention to detail, so when my husband's parents offered me a job with a good salary and health insurance, I said, yes.
Ever since I had known him, my husband was convinced he would follow in his parents’ footsteps. He wanted to be a third-generation restaurant owner. He used to joke, “I can’t help it. I was born with ketchup in my veins.”
As much as I tried to manifest the ketchup in my own veins, it just wasn’t there. But I’d pretend for nearly a decade that I loved this work, convincing everyone that I was happy and living life to the fullest.
The hamster wheel
Just like I had been conditioned to do, I stayed busy, kept silent and immersed myself in my work and home. I had watched my parents my entire life run around the same hamster wheel day after day; wake up, go to work, come home, make dinner, do chores, go to bed, and then do it all over again the next day.
There is an expectation in our society that you must choose a career path before you’re even an adult, commit your whole life to mastering your trade and then never look back. In my family, there was a further expectation to find a good husband, get married and have children as soon as possible. It was as if the sooner I conformed to this expectation, the sooner I could reach fulfillment and success.
Never one to disappoint, I played out these roles and expectations perfectly. I was really... and, I mean, REALLY good at playing my part and not disappointing anyone's expectations of me. On paper, I had it all before my 21st birthday. The 3-bedroom house, the perfect fiancé, the cute dog, a secure job, a brand-new car, a designer purse, a wardrobe full of name brand clothing, and a salary with benefits. You name it, I had it.
But I didn’t have it. Deep down, I was absolutely, undeniably miserable. My heart and soul felt broken because I was not living my life in alignment with who I truly was. I felt trapped and like I was constantly running on this hamster wheel of expectation with no way to get off.
Programming at the Moment of Birth
From the very second that we are born we become weighed down by the weight of expectation from our family, church, culture, society, government and community. Each of these outer aspects, place some form of expectation on us. As a result of these expectations, we’re programmed to act, speak and behave in a certain manner in order to not disappoint. Anyone who doesn’t comply to these standards is usually rejected and shunned from society as a weirdo, an outcast or a failure.
As infants, we are born whole and pure, fully tapped into our Soul’s highest potential. Every child is born deeply connected without any veil of illusion or density. But, soon after, and usually within seconds of being born, we’re taught what to believe and how we’re expected to show up in the World. It only gets worse and more intense as we age.
All of these beliefs, patterns, social norms and other inherited conditioning starts to build a hard shell around our heart. Layer by layer, we become closed off from our Divine connection to our Higher Selves. Our life purpose and our Soul’s highest possible trajectory for this lifetime are lost to us, forgotten in the layers of illusion and programmed beliefs.
When the culture in which we’re born upon conditions us in such a way, we become almost entirely disconnected from Spirit and God. We lose ourselves and our connection to our inner compass. The result is usually devastating.
The only way to undo such toxic programming is by learning to peel back each and every layer, one at a time. The layers are filled with conditioning, deceit, inauthenticity, hypocrisy, old habits, destructive patterns, and misguided thoughts.
One of our greatest challenges in our life, is to find a way to exist in the world without disempowering expectations and conditions. We do that by expanding our awareness and increasing the ways in which we can stay awake to societal patterns, programs and manipulation.
We each must learn discernment; the ability to think and make decisions without the opinions of others. We need to be able to look at our life with an open and flexible mindset and decide which programs and conditions are right for us and which ones have taken our power away.
If you continue to do what is expected of you, rather than listening to what your heart is truly longing for, you’ll lose your integrity and authenticity. If you spend your whole life choosing the safety and ease of the hamster wheel, you’ll completely deplete yourself. Every single time.
The Freedom of Un-programming
During this period of my life, I mentioned I felt like I was on a hamster wheel. A big, ol’ boring, rusty hamster wheel known as the wheel of expectation. I didn’t know when or if I’d ever be able to jump off of it.
Looking back now, I can see how I was so deeply conditioned. I believed that it was unsafe to follow my heart’s deepest longings. I feared that I’d lose my friends and family if I dared to try something completely unconventional or new. I was afraid of trying and also of failing. I was afraid of disappointing the people I loved the most. I inherited beliefs that made me feel like it was unsafe to be seen. It felt unsafe to speak up or to follow my truth .
If I had the freedom to choose a different life, I was programmed to believe otherwise. Fortunately, I slowly and surely learned how to let go and release all of these outdated programs that were holding me back and keeping me stuck in this continuous cycle. I started to see all of the ways in which old thoughts and beliefs no longer fit with the person I was becoming.
If I wanted to be happy and follow my heart’s deepest calling, I’d have to purge every expectation that no longer fit. I’d have to rewrite everything that I had ever known to be true about myself and my World.
The Authentic Self Shines Through
I spent most of my life being told who I was. The story I just shared is no different and is simply one example of all the ways in which I had succumbed to programming and conditioning.
During these years I felt like I had a deep expectation and immense amount of pressure placed on me to be somebody that, ultimately, I was not. From my late teens to early thirties I was conditioned by family and people in the business who thought that they knew what was best for me.
In those years I was told how to dress, how to act professional, how to speak, how to shake hands and even how to properly sit or hold a glass at social gatherings. I was told what to believe and how I should present myself to the World. I was even told which political beliefs and candidates would be "best for business."
I basically spent my entire 20s living this sort of inauthentic version of myself. It felt like the closer I got to fulfilling everybody's expectations of me, the further I got from becoming my True Self and walking in alignment with my Soul's journey.
I think that life for most people is a lot like this. Because, from the moment we're born we carry the weight of expectation from all of these outside influences. And, many of us spend our entire life trying to live up to those expectations that are constantly being placed on us. Eventually, they become so heavy that we lose sight of our own Soul's calling.
I often wonder who each of us are underneath all of these beliefs and expectations. Who are we on the deepest, Soul level of our existence?
Most of us have not been given the tools to unhook and unprogram from outdated beliefs and expectations. We spend most of our lives just going along with everything that we've been told without questioning whether or not it's in our highest alignment.
Essentially, we've been conditioned to accept all of these belief systems and expectations, and consequently the limitations that go with them. We accept them as our Truth and as our reality no matter what. We spend our entire life trying to live up to these expectations, which essentially teaches us to become somebody that we were never meant to be in the first place.
I believe whole-heartedly that my purpose in this lifetime is to help bring about healing and restoration to humanity. My purpose involves living a deeply devoted spiritual life. My life's work has nothing to do with working 80+ hours a week in the restaurant industry, but everything to do with raising beautiful, bright, shining children and anchoring light into the planet. There are so many reasons as to why I'm here and none of them have to do with which hand I hold my glass in at a dinner party.
If you're truly dedicated to this kind of work, the most important thing that you can do is begin to take a good, long and hard look at all the ways in which you've been programmed or influenced in your life. When I first started this work, I'd journal for many hours on these topics. Here is a list of questions to consider:
Are there any narratives you've accepted as true that make you feel angry, fearful or disempowered?
What beliefs do you carry that make you feel "less than", not good enough or unworthy?
What were you taught as a child that didn't make sense, but you accepted in order to avoid conflict or being punished?
In what ways do you feel disconnected from your intuition, your heart and your true nature? How and when did this disconnect begin for you?
When in your life did you feel like you weren't being your authentic self? When did you feel like it was unsafe to be seen or be heard? Who made you feel like you had to play small or hide your Light in order to make others accept you?
What are your beliefs in each of the following systems: religion, medical, education, government, financial, societal, spiritual? Of all of these beliefs, which ones empower you and which ones disempower you?
When it comes to societal beliefs, what do you consider to be a "normal person"? Do you feel pressure to look and act a certain way just to fit in? What is your definition of success and worthiness?
In what ways do you feel obedient? Where does that desire stem from? Who taught you to stay in your place and comply?
In what areas of your life do you fail to critically think? Where do you accept the mainstream narratives as true without questioning? When speaking about important topics, where do you simply echo somebody else's opinions versus having taken the time to study, research and form your own opinion?
Who in your life do you most fear of disappointing? What or who are you afraid of losing if you embrace all that you are?
What religious or spiritual beliefs do you hold as true? In what ways do these beliefs disempower you? What would happen to your life if you stopped believing them?
How do you feel about conventional learning and the standard education system? How do you feel about the desire to perform or be perfect?
In what ways do you feel like you're a victim? In what ways do you feel like it is your responsibility to save or assist others? In what ways do you sacrifice yourself for others? And, in what ways do you negotiate your personal boundaries for others?
What is your opinion on people with money, power and influence? What is your opinion on people who live in poverty, are addicts or disabled? What is your opinion on people who have a vastly different view point than you, for example someone who has an opposing political belief?
What fears do you carry that hold you back or keep you stuck? What identities have you created around your fears or traumas?
What expectations do the most important people in your life place on you? What are some personal expectations that you are attempting to live up to right now?
A Final Note
Programming exists to keep us locked into the never-ending hamster wheel. Essentially, it keeps us stuck in the matrix and makes us feel small, helpless and insignificant. The programs we inherit from the moment of our incarnation are designed to limit us.
True freedom comes from our own, unique ability to allow the programming within us to crumble. This transformation allows us to rediscover our Soul's highest trajectory and purpose in this lifetime. We can reprogram and un-condition ourselves by rejecting and rewriting any belief that has disempowered us.
It is at this very specific moment in our life where we're being asked to make a choice. You can choose to fall into the old habits, beliefs and patterns where all of your old conditioning repeats itself over and over again. Or, you can choose to go deep inside of yourself and discover the inner changes that are necessary in order to break the cycle.
Sending you so much love,