Philosopher John Locke's interpretation of the mind at birth as a "tabula rasa" or blank slate upon which experience imprints knowledge, is quite magical until we reach the age of reason and beyond, when "life" happens. All our experiences, shaped through sensory experiences, form schemas: our mental framework that develops from our experiences with particular people, objects or events.
Not so magical when you truly think about it now, is it? Not when the first time you get stung by a bee, you go into anaphylactic shock. Or the first time you vomit, you dry heave until you break blood vessels in your eyes. Or the first teacher you remember, used to draw a dot on the chalk board for you to put your nose against as punishment. BAD SCHEMAS!! And for many, these are traumatic events which are stored completely differently in our brains (kind of like scattered debris across a treelawn). But the schemas aren't lost, just the particulars, and the generalizations remain the same until we have enough good or different experiences with people and events that we create adjuncts to the originals.
Other traumatic and unfortunate schemas lead to pathological thoughts and behaviors requiring the attention of a mentor, therapist or other professional to help reframe and change. Our brains are wired, and being the behaviorist that I am, I truly believe we can begin each day with our bodies as blank slates. We have the opportunity to change just ONE thing as soon as our feet hit the earth. Instead of a pastry: take a banana. Instead of checking your phone, read or practice meditation. Instead of lighting a cigarette, eat a pastry.
Beyond breakfast and morning routines, our day is just one giant cluster of decision making: eww!! Often times, theses decisions are habitual and comforting because they don't require much thought or effort, until one day: we get pulled over for speeding down a road we have always sped down, or our blood pressure suddenly reaches a new high because of our diets, or we are learning that our depression is rooted in more than our brains and SOMETHING must change.
Change comes slow and often times there are setbacks, but remember that here at Ubuntu and millions of other communities of support, we embrace humanity and understand that we all have "stuff". Heavy heavy loads of stuff that we need one another to help lift, throw away, store differently, or polish.