Are we born to behave the way we do? Or do we learn it from family, environment, and life circumstances? Is it nature, or nurture?
It's neither of these things.
Much of our early upbringing is based on our learning to recognise and respond to stimuli - the love in a mother's eyes and her smile helps us to learn that we are safe and warm, and that when we start taking those first little steps on our own, there is a safe haven to run back to. It's all part of the development of the human being, to learn safety and trust, and the kind of responses that we know will result in being fed, or cuddled, or picked up when we fall over our feet.
If we have parents or carers who teach us well, we learn right from wrong. We learn how to love, how to trust, how to learn self-respect and courage.
What happens if we're not fortunate in our upbringing and we learn that we're not safe, or loved, or wanted? Perhaps, even though our parents did the best they possibly could, we have somehow learned to hide our hearts and our inner truth and, to be wary or mistrustful of others, and form destructive relationships with other people. Does that mean we are condemned to whatever life we grow up with, and that our learned behaviour controls the rest of our lives?
That would be heartbreakingly sad, wouldn't it? That would mean that only those people who had perfect upbringings, and who developed into well-adjusted, loving people, had any hope of being truly happy. And it suggests that we are always controlled by our influences, and that we have no choice.
And after all, not everyone who has had a happy upbringing ends up happy themselves.
You may not have any control over the way you were brought up. But you can choose how to live your life from now on. You can choose to be happy and live in a way that lets your heart sing every day.
That can be a hard choice. It means understanding that there is unhappiness or dissatisfaction in your life, but that staying with it because it feels safer holds you back from making the choice to live in a different, healthier way. It's a difficult choice because what you know is familiar. You know what to expect.
Choosing to live in a new and different way is a challenge because it means setting off in a new direction on a road that is unfamiliar - you will not have experienced it ever before, and it takes courage to start out on that journey.
And you will find your true nature when you learn to truly nurture yourself.
Neel Raman, is an author, presenter, workshop facilitator and coach to many. He has written ‘Hoops and Freedom’, a powerful self-improvement book, in the form of an entertaining fiction story, targeted at those who want and demand more from life. To get the first chapter for FREE and to receive FREE motivational lessons, visit: http://www.focusedon.com.au/blog To find out more about this book and to register to receive FREE newsletters and other FREE offers, visit: http://www.HoopsAndFreedom.com