Once upon a time, a walnut tree decided to start producing apples instead of walnuts. He was shunned by some and admired by others for his raw courage.
He had defied his programming.
No question, if this had actually happened, the news of this free-thinking walnut tree would have received world-wide attention in a matter of seconds.
In truth, we all know that it’s impossible for walnut trees to grow apples. They’re genetically programmed to produce only one thing … walnuts. And just like walnut trees, we humans are genetically programmed. Take our physical appearance. It’s directly influenced by genes passed down from our ancestors.
But unlike walnut trees, we also undergo parental programming that shapes our behavior, our thoughts and attitudes. That we can change! And if we choose to do so, we will be shunned by some and admired by others. 🙂
For example, Cheryl has been programmed to put her mother’s needs before her own. If her mother requests something or manipulates Cheryl through guilt tactics, Cheryl drops everything and caters to her wish. Even if it’s hugely inconvenient. Even if her own family suffers.
I’m happy to say that’s all changing. Lately, when Cheryl has the impulse to drop everything and do her mother’s bidding, she stops and asks herself: What do I think is the best use of my time right now? How do I best take care of me and my family?
In other words, what do I choose to do?
Then there’s James. He gave countless examples of his father yelling at him when he was a boy and telling him how worthless he was.
“In his eyes, I sucked at everything . . . I couldn’t do anything right.”
For 40 years, James bought into that piece of damage. He even picked up where his father left off. As an adult he would mutilate his own self-esteem with the same messages he got from his dad.
Not long ago, he chose to see himself in a new light.
Katie was programmed to tough it out. Instead of comforting her when she got hurt—either physically or emotionally—her parents would sternly say: “You’re alright.”
Her programming failed to prepare her for understanding and working through her emotions. So she was at a loss—to the point of panic—when her dog died, when her car broke down on a busy highway, when her boyfriend cheated on her, and when she became the target of cyberbullying.
By the time I met her, she was inches away from suicide.
Today, she’s choosing to embrace her feelings. By doing so, she’s on the road to learning how to manage them.
Each of these individuals chose to defy their programming. They’re to be admired.
Walnuts or apples? To break the spell of programming, make it apples. 🙂
(c) Salee Reese 2016
Names are changed to honor client confidentiality.