Are you the way you are due to your genetics or to your environment? My view on this is a living, changing blend of genetics, environment, and personal choice to create the life you want. I’d say that currently, I might assign genetics a score of around 15%, environment 70%, and personal choice another 15%. Now very quickly, the key words to me are ‘living’ and ‘changing’ because we can overcome our genetics, and when we are aware, actively choose to improve ourselves. We can also overcome the non-supportive environmental ideas/attitudes/habits that we grew up with so that our personal choice percentage grows to the majority percentage.
In fact, I would be in the camp that personal choices, combined with our own strong innate desires, combined with sustained, supportive action will overcome every non-supportive thinking pattern/attitudes/lack of nurture/limited education, limited resources, etc…
This mindset, this hope is what keeps me actually going, and overcomes my seemingly innate bouts with depression.
Here’s a question – what if you thought ice-cube trays were boring, made the same boring cubes? What if you could build an ice tray that froze the water into cute animal shapes, or a spaceship? Enterprise from Star Trek anyone?
This could work right? Novelty ice molds Wait, they do make these things!!
The water follows the shape of its mold, and as time passes, those little water molecules stop moving so fast, slow down, and freeze into the shape of whatever mold it’s in!
Now, you can probably see where I’m going here. . .I’d postulate that to an extent, our undeveloped brains, our naive spirits as children are still in random flux like the fast-moving water molecules. Our environment molds us into specific shapes specific to our unique experiences.
More to the point, I think that growing up in a strict, legalistic religious house has certainly molded my spirit, created a specifically shaped lens through which I generally view the world. And as a first-born, I tend to be a compliant rule follower as well.
So, how has growing up fundamentalist shaped your heart/soul/spirit/social/mental/emotional development? At times, I think that my core shape has been so impressed upon me that I don’t fit into anyone’s tray any longer! I don’t fit the original fundamentalist belief molds, but I am still so ingrained with conservatism (to date, I still have never consumed any alcohol, smoked, done any drugs, illicit sex, and generally I am pretty good at obeying traffic laws!) that I don’t fit in with the ‘normal’ people who are the ‘unsaved’! See how badly this has stamped my core?
I think that being molded by Baptist fundamentalists creates a ‘spiritual fractal’ that seems to repeat to my core essence. And that’s not all bad, there are some very excellent, and helpful beliefs, and skills that I also retain. But the idea here is stated very concisely by Rachel Thor at rachelthor.com
“YOU ARE FULL OF FRACTALS.
You have mathematical functions that are your natural programming to be a human.
Your are an iterative life form, always using new information to plug into your next experiences. You do a thing and get a result, which gives you a belief about the world. Then, you plug that belief back into your next experience and low and behold, it shapes the outcome of that experience so that the result you get is a more deeply-convinced belief. and on. forever.
Your beliefs and experiences and sensations are self-similar. You will experience the same type of energy, the same pattern, in many aspects of your life, because it’s all being fed by the same repetition rules.
These self-similar patterns will happen on the smallest scales – down to your cells, all the way up to the biggest scales of culture (and beyond) because the equation is infinite.
UNTIL YOU CHANGE THE EQUATION…”
What if all you had to determine every choice in your life was a little two drawer file folder containing all the knowledge that has been passed on to you from your parents, siblings, teachers, friends, and your life experiences? What if you parents gave you a very biased and limited knowledge base about money for example? What if their sum total knowledge about money was to trade time for money, take out bank loans for large purchases, but had no concept of investing to make money work for you?
Let’s say that the transmission in your car blows up. You go to your small two drawer file cabinet for all possible options, and find that the only options available to you there are;
a. Get very angry and frustrated – yell loudly and angrily and continue to repeat this for several days
b. Blame God for not miraculously keeping your car running since He knows that you have limited finances and did nothing to intervene, like have someone give you a newer car before this one broke
c. Blame your mechanic for not having noticed that your transmission was about to go when he changed your windshield wipers for you
d. Ride a bicycle to work for a week until you figure out where to get extra money to fix your car
e. Complain to everyone you see in order to generate sympathy for yourself
f. Take out a loan from the bank, or most likely a loan company since you don’t qualify for the bank’s loan criteria to pay to fix your transmission
g. Keep your car, since it’s old, paid off, and you certainly can’t afford car payments since you are now paying back your loan for the transmission
What if this kind of thinking pattern is ALL that you know?? Your file cabinet gives you limited life choices!! You are going to endlessly repeat these same self-destructive life patterns endlessly until something changes the life-fractal equation!
And what if you look back on your life and realize how incredibly ignorant you were? Is it really fair to beat yourself up for making the choices you made given the limited options you had available?
And what if someone else comes along and you see they have three rows of 4 drawer file cabinets of life options to choose from? Are you less than they are because your only inherited a small two drawer file cabinet with limited, biased, even incorrect information to base your life on?
Our goal is to not let our environment hog our life resources with huge supportive, blaming beliefs, but to learn to restructure our resources so that the highest percent is neither genetics, nor environment, but rather free personal choices that we are now free to make because we have learned to improve our own thinking patterns, and made personal, lasting character improvements to ourselves.
Yeah, I’m preaching to me!