School was never my favorite place. Although, in my lifetime I’ve managed to spend nearly 24 years in school, practically back to back from preschool through graduate studies. Add professional licensure and that’s about 3 more years. I’m a few months shy of my 47th birthday, so that equates to more than half my life that has been organized around school. I’m not unique in this math and simply put, that’s an enormous amount of time for anyone to do anything. 
I love learning, but what I have come to understand from my own experience combined with years working in schools as a psychotherapist is that school and learning are two completely different things. If you are lucky, truly lucky, somewhere at some point the two meet in the middle and learning and school are of the same. This can be for a single year, a single semester, a single class, or a series of single moments. But for some of us, the two exist too far apart to even create a venn diagram.  This has been my experience as a student, school clinician, and also a parent. There is so much to say about school as an institution and an act and some day I will write that book, but for today I want to share my contemplations on school as a group and how this group we spend so much time within and of, is often ignored when it comes to its role in influencing our behavior. 
The word conditioning is so hot right now. If you spend any time on IG or Tiktok, you’ve probably been bombarded with the idea of conditioning and deconditioning. And, yeah it’s totally a thing. But these ideas of course are more complex than can be approached when set to music in just a few seconds. But I’m glad people are talking about them. It’s important to reflect on how the groups we have been a part of throughout our lives influence our behavior in the past and in the present. It’s essential to our wellbeing. 
In my experience working with patients, there are a few main groups that influence our behavior: family, school and work. In essence we learn how to behave within these groups in order to be safe - or as safe as possible, and receive love. And while this all makes perfect sense in the physical realm, it gets really complex and nuanced in our minds and bodies, especially as small children. And this is what is being referred to when people talk about deconditioning. Conditioning is behavior that we have created in response to spoken and unspoken expectations and ideas about how we stay safe and receive love as part of a group. Our first group is of course family. And anyone who has been doing the internal work knows that a good amount of time is spent reflecting on how we behaved in our families to feel safe and loved. 
As small children, we receive very overt messaging and also super subconscious messaging from our immediate family as to how we need to respond and react to be soothed, fed, paid attention to and loved. We create these behaviors out of survival. They serve us, until they don’t and that’s when we usually find ourselves blocked, in discomfort and/or experiencing relational difficulties. 
Many find that exploring their behavior in relation to the family group is closely connected to ideas of scarcity. Oftentimes this is real, perhaps there was food or shelter insecurity, violence, and the like. But also too, scarcity can be perceived and passed down inter-generationally. So there can be a feeling, conscious or unconscious, that safety and love are in scarcity, when in reality they are not. It’s important to remember that we are children doing our best to survive and receive safety and love. We do the best we can and often these behaviors that we engage in to do so stick around well into adulthood, even when they no longer serve us. That’s why doing the work is so important. 
And this makes sense. 
Family is the first group and also the one that we spend the most time with right?
Well, let’s do the math on that one. 
But first, an acknowledgement. School in and of itself is an institutionalized group. This means that there are established rules to serve the masses. Hospitals are institutions, organizations are institutions, prisons are institutions. Institutions have a desired outcome that they serve and they do so by figuring out ways to serve the averages. And in general this is successful in terms of outcomes, but not so much when it comes to the individual. Not everything works for everyone. And perhaps serving the individual is an impossible ideal, but nonetheless I believe it is really important to acknowledge. Institutions do not serve the individual, they serve a desired outcome. And that’s a significant distinction.
I argue that yes, it is critically important to spend time discovering an awareness of the role we play in our families and how we have behaved within the family group to stay safe and be loved. But we also need to take a good hard look at how being part of the institutionalized group that is school has also shaped our behavior when it comes to getting our basic needs met. 
Back to the math. 
I’ll use myself as an example with the reminder that currently many children enter into an institutionalized school group via daycare as young as 6 weeks old. A person in their mid 20’s who entered daycare at 6 weeks old and has continued their education through college has spent most of their life being influenced by an institutionalized group. Maybe more hours a day than their family. This is HUGE. And something that is not usually considered when it comes to conditioning/deconditioning work. 
Personally, I was curious to calculate the number of hours I spent in a school group over the course of my life. 
Of course this is an average based on active time spent in classes and on school grounds during the academic year. It does not include outside of school activities like sports or homework nor does it account for possible absences and school closures. Nonetheless, it’s a decent estimate. 
Here's what I discovered. 
From the time I entered half-day preschool at age three to the time I completed my post graduate licensure supervision, I’ve spent roughly 17,172 hours as part of a school group. Wow. 
When it comes to school, my question is, how can a place where we spend so many hours, in my case 17,172, not be deeply considered when it comes to conditioning and influencing our behavior?
I’m not exactly sure why the influence of our school group is not considered more significantly when we explore our conditioned behavior. I think we end up missing such an important part of the puzzle here. 
So what exactly is the significance of this group? How do we begin to look at this? 
I’m going to break that down for you next week. In the meantime, send me your experience. I'd love to hear your thoughts on school. 
AUTHORITY is one of my favorite parts of Human Design. It is also one of the most nuanced. Understanding your authority is a process and one that is meant to unfold over time. 
At it's core, AUTHORITY in Human Design language is how we best make decisions. Our AUTHORITY is essentially a suggestion or direction provided on how we can begin to think about making decisions about opportunities that are most aligned with our energy. What this all really means is that, if we want to make decisions that make the best use of our energy and the many gifts we have to share, we follow the guidance of our AUTHORITY. 
It is important to say here that if you have never heard of Human Design, if you have heard of it and tried it and think it is shit, if you want to completely ignore it as a tool altogether, that doesn't mean that you will never achieve your goals or live a happy and joyful life. You will. Human Design offers guidance on how to get there. Take it or leave it. In my opinion, Human Design should never be dogmatic. It's not a hard science backed by peer review. The mystical should stay flexible. When it doesn't things tend to get a little Jonestown for my taste. 
AUTHORITY can have many different flavors. Two people with the same AUTHORITY, let's say splenic, or using intuition as a guide, may experience their intuition in two completely different ways. In general, intuition does not come from a place of fear or anxiety or needing to rush. It is a very calm and centered feeling. A groundedness, a certainty. That being said, if you rounded up a group of people with splenic authority, they would provide a variety of different ways their intuition manifests.  
Because AUTHORITY can feel very nuanced individual to individual, it is really important to engage in practices that quiet the mind and body in order to get in touch with your AUTHORITY. In general, we are talking about embodiment practices. This can be mediation, yoga, dance, walking in nature, movement, breathwork, I'd even include being in different types of receivership - massage, facial, energy work. A practice that calms the nervous system and allows space to respond instead of react in flight or flight. These practices allow us to quiet the body enough to experience our AUTHORITY, which of course originates from our body and not the mind. I'll remind you that my favorite aspect of Human Design is that the energy of our minds is to serve others. The energy of our bodies is to serve ourselves. So fucking cool. 
There is so much more to be said of AUTHORITY. 
Have questions about understanding your AUTHORITY? Send them my way here:
This was not the song I was going to share this week, but then I heard it in the shuffle and was completely swept away. Thunder Road is just one of those songs. I didn't hear the song until much later in my life, for whatever reason, even being from the East Coast, Bruce Springsteen just wasn't in my ether.  And to be honest I'm not sure the song would have found its way into me in the same fashion as a younger version of myself.  I'm not sure I would have understood the beauty in beginning a song with the words, “A screen door slams, Mary's dress sways.”  This brings to mind the way the first words of 100 Years of solitude or Love in the Time of Cholera set the stage for falling in love with characters the way Marquez so artfully fosters. It is a small moment that opens up an entire world to us. 
Perhaps it is in the lyrics, or Springsteen's rasp that the song becomes impossible to put in the background. It is fully there, even in a crowded bar. I do know that the song is made only more beautiful by my daughter's voice lightly singing it while working on math homework or doing a crossword. 
The beauty of the mere sound of the words being enough, then layered upon the music, the melody and of course Bruce himself. 
I hope you enjoy it too. Hit listen to get a taste.
Bruce Springsteen
A screen door slams, Mary's dress sways
Like a vision she dances across the porch
As the radio plays
Roy Orbison singing for the lonely
Hey, that's me, and I want you only
Don't turn me home again
I just can't face myself alone again
Don't run back inside, darling
You know just what I'm here for
So you're scared and you're thinking
That maybe we ain't that young anymore
Show a little faith, there's magic in the night
You ain't a beauty but, hey, you're alright
Oh, and that's alright with me…

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published