I often wonder whether we are merely ‘robots’ or human beings. When I search for the definition of a Robot, the following information comes up from Wikipedia:
“A robot is a machine—especially one programmable by a computer— capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically. Robots can be guided by an external control device or the control may be embedded within.”
From the time we were toddlers, we were essentially told what we can and can’t do. Those around us remotely controlled our thoughts, emotions and behaviours. Our parents, siblings, members of the extended family and teachers all played with this remote control and used it to program their expectations into our little minds. For example:
Don’t talk like that
Don’t cry like a baby
Don’t leave your room messy
Don’t smile. It’s not funny
Go to the corner . . . Now!
And as we became adolescents, the remote controls changed hands and our friends took over. To fit in, they encouraged us to think, feel and behave the way they did, and if we didn’t, we were ousted.
There were always negative consequences if you showed reluctance to fit in with these groups. You might be excluded from a friend’s birthday party, online chat groups, a trip to the movies or a weekend getaway, which would inevitably making you feel inferior, insecure and lonely.
The remote control was then taken over by your boyfriend or girlfriend, and again you tried to fit in with their expectations and conformed to their needs. Perhaps you didn’t want to watch football, but your boyfriend wanted you to watch with him? You would find yourself giving in just to please him. On the flip side, your girlfriend wanted you to accompany her to salsa dancing, and no matter how much you hated it, you gave in just to keep the peace.
The remote control was then tossed over to your employer and you found yourself conforming into their needs:
Don’t go on Facebook
Don’t come in late
Don’t chat with your colleagues at work
Don’t wear those shoes
Don’t take time off
Don’t answer the phone like that
Don’t talk to your boss like that
And as you found yourself getting married to the love of your life, the remote control was sent by express post to your spouse. Again, your thoughts, emotions and behaviour were modulated to fit their needs, and your spouse took over the programming of your mind:
Take the rubbish out
Do the dishes
Don’t just sit there watching TV all day
Why are you getting mad?
Don’t come home late
How are we going to survive with your pay-check?
Lose some weight. I can’t go out with you looking like that
Get a haircut
And again, we complied. We changed our thinking, feelings and behaviour to suit our spouse’s needs.
When I think of the definition of a human being, what comes to my mind is a being that is able to create their own thoughts, regulate their emotions based on the thoughts they have created and behave according to their thoughts independent of external influences. But my question to you is that going back and looking at your life, how many times have you independently created your own thoughts and acted on them? Perhaps a handful of times? Most of the time, we think feel and behave identically to those around us. We observe and automatically follow the rules set by others.
So, does this make us robots?
Do we spend much of our time fulfilling others expectations?
Do we try too hard to impress those around us?
Do we accept as “true” what others think and say of us?
Do we live according to a universally accepted time schedule? Morning – breakfast, midday – lunch and evening – dinner time?
If you answered “yes” to the above questions, then yes we are robots. But there is a small difference.
Within each of us, there is signal that periodically beeps asking for our attention. But we have been so conditioned to fulfil everyone else’s needs that we have turned a deaf ear. Over time, that signal has become weaker and weaker, but it is still there, flashing every so often.
This signal is akin to your inner GPS. It is signalling you to follow your own dreams, desires and goals. Life is short, so why spend it on being a cheerleader on the sidelines while your needs and goals get buried away? It’s time to change the way you lead your life. Dream big. Focus on your goals and make them happen. Be human. Your inner signal will applaud you for the changes you make.
This article was researched and compiled by Dr. Sonia Shah