What is closest to us is often most invisible: proverbially, a fish doesn’t know what water is. 

Cultural programming is like that. It’s so close we don’t see it. 

In other words, we are so deeply conditioned by our cultural messages that we are often unaware of how they frame our inner and outer experience.

We don’t see our cultural frame because we see everything through it. It shapes our perceptions at their very foundation.

As a result, we unconsciously embody and enact our cultural programming, self-selecting experiences that never test the boundaries. Put another way, our cultural frame is self-validating because it is never questioned. 

Until we begin to wake up to this constructed reality, in a sense, we will always be puppets of our cultural forces. 

We are bottle-fed advertisements from birth—programmed to see material goods as the ticket to joy and salvation. This is the byproduct of a society that deifies consumerism and worships economic gain as the summum bonum: the highest good and ultimate goal.

The messages are both subtle and overt, both subliminal and explicit. They are enshrined in billboards, movies, and the daily actions, values, and attitudes of those around us.

We are indoctrinated to believe our self-worth and identity are based primarily on our productivity, achievements, and possessions. We have been taught to commodify ourselves and others as though we were products to be bought and sold. 

This strips us and those around us of our humanity, robbing us of the sacred joy of being. In this “human consumerism,” we lose touch with our inherent preciousness.

What is required to undo this conditioning is a complete paradigm shift in the way we see the world, ourselves, and each other. 

When we dismantle our inherited perceptions and deprogram our indoctrinated views, we change our habituated roles within this system. This is essential to genuine personal and collective healing and awakening. 

By and large, the process of deprogramming is a deep reexamination of all that was previously left unquestioned. 

Seeing the frame in the first place is half the battle. This makes what was invisible visible so we can bring it into our conscious awareness and choose how we relate to it. 

The other half of the battle is fearlessly and continuously examining how to break out of our roles in the system and help others do the same.

Our wounds are collective, and so is our healing. Individual and societal awakening requires us to create collective agreements based on equity, human dignity, and protection of our most vulnerable. 

In this week’s episode of On Living with Brooke Sprowl, my guest and dear friend Alex Federici and I discuss how to dismantle these inherited perceptions, deprogram our cultural messages, and imagine new ways of being and relating. 

Check out the episode here:

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Writer Bio

Brooke Sprowl is the Founder of My LA Therapy, a concierge therapy practice, and My Truest North, a cross-disciplinary coaching and consultancy firm specializing in mission-driven entrepreneurs seeking greater integrity, spiritual awakening, and deeper ways to actualizing their higher purpose through collective service. With 15 years of clinical experience as an individual, couples, and family therapist, she is trained in a wide-range of approaches, from evidence-based therapy practices to peak performance and flow neuroscience techniques. Brooke is also the host of the podcast, On Living with Brooke Sprowl. She is passionate about writing, cognitive science, philosophy, integrity, spirituality, effective altruism, personal and collective healing, and curating luxury, transformational retreat experiences for people who are committed to self-discovery and using their unique gifts in service of the world.

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