My Most Embarrassing Moment from Childhood — And Why We Need to “Reprogram” Our Minds

When I was seven, the girl I sat beside in school told me she liked me.

Next thing I know, I’m crying — and unable to stop.

Around this time, my parents were in the habit of teasing my brother and I about girls at the dinner table in the evenings.

So, when this girl told me she liked me, my brain went:

Uh-oh! This is going to lead to a lot of teasing.”

I was a sensitive kid, so I panicked as I imagined the scene at the dinner table that evening — and burst into tears.

Not my proudest moment.

In the years that followed, I struggled in my love life, and didn’t have a proper girlfriend until I was 21 — and this was only after I had left the continent for a study abroad program in Canada.

This post explores how the programming we received in our first seven years continues to affect us later in life.

If you’re not getting the results you want in a particular area (e.g. health, wealth, or relationships), it’s worth a read.

Your Subconscious was “Programmed” in Your First 7 Years of Life

Practitioners of clinical hypnosis put their clients into the “theta” brainwave state before they begin working.

In “theta”, you become highly impressionable and open to new interpretations.

You enter into a “programmable” state of mind.

Recent research has revealed that we exist in an almost permanent state of theta until age seven.

This means that for your first seven years, you were essentially programmed by the people and culture around you.

These programs then became your operating system and exist beneath conscious awareness, driving most of your beliefs, habits, and behaviours.

Due to the programming I had received in my early years, the subconscious equation running my mind was:

Girls = teasing = emotional pain = danger.

Therefore, even though my conscious mind wanted a relationship as I got older, my subconscious was having none of it — and I constantly found ways to sabotage this area of my life.

Although embarrassing (and somewhat tragic) for my younger self, this example shows just how influential the programming we receive in our early years can be.

This is why the Jesuits would say:

Give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man“.

What they really meant was:

Give me a child until he is seven, and I will show you his subconscious”.

Your Subconscious is Like a Self Driving Car

A helpful metaphor for understanding the power of programming is to think of your subconscious like a self-driving car.

When the conscious mind is in control, your hands are on the steering wheel and you’re actively directing the car towards your desired destination.

However, when you drift into habitual thought loops and unconscious thought patterns, it’s the equivalent of taking your hands off the wheel.

The car is now in self-driving, autopilot mode, and your subconscious is in control.

Shockingly, cognitive neuroscientists now estimate that approximately 95% of mental processes occur beneath conscious awareness.

This means that the self-driving car of your mind is on “autopilot” 95% of the time.

Even though you’re still driving safely, your conscious mind isn’t moving the car towards where you want it to go anymore.

Instead, your self-driving car “defaults” into driving to the destinations it has been pre-programmed for in the first seven years of your life.

To illustrate just how much more powerful your subconscious is than your conscious mind, consider that the former can process 11 million bits of information every second, whereas the latter can only handle 50.

If we combine the research suggesting that we spend 95% of our lives running on “autopilot” programs, along with the knowledge that most of this programming happened before the age of seven, it follows that it’s vital to rewrite these programs once we are mature adults and know what we truly want out of life.

Otherwise, we will continually run the default programs of our early conditioning and wonder why our best efforts keep failing — no matter how hard we try.

Questions Worth Reflecting On:

1.) What programming might you have received in your first seven years could be negatively affecting you today?

2.) In which areas of your life do your programs (i.e., beliefs) most need an “upgrade”?

3.) In the areas you listed for question two, what would be the most helpful new programs to install, given what you now truly want as a conscious, mature adult?


1.) Jensen, M. P., Adachi, T., & Hakimian, S. (2015). Brain Oscillations, Hypnosis, and Hypnotizability. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 57(3), 230–253. 

2.) Lipton, B. H. (2005). The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter and Miracles. Mountain of Love, p.172.

3.) Mlodinow, L. (2012). Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior. New York: Pantheon Books, p. 34.

4.) Mlodinow, L. (2012). Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior. New York: Pantheon Books, p. 33.

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Niall McKeever

Writer and Founder of The Weekend University. Passionate about making great ideas more accessible.

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