In our early childhood, we are influenced by those around us: our parents and immediate family, but also everyone we encounter. This influence continues throughout our lives. Schoolteachers and religion also bring their influence to our lives.
The reality is that those who influence us were influenced by those before them, and those people, yet again, by other people before them. So this influence is handed down from generation to generation, and in this way, we are formed. From time to time, someone brings their own views into the equation and might in some way, large or small, influence our existing influences. But in the main, influence is passed on down the ages and onto us.
In fact, we are all brought up to accept what our caregivers decide for us. The system works like that. Let’s look at the saying of “Bend the tree while it is young.” That is exactly what happens. Through our various stages of growth, someone imposes their ways onto us which they, in turn, got from somewhere else. So from the time we’re born, many other people have had a say in our lives whether we like it or not—and whether their influence works for us or not.
What if we don’t want this influence? What if we don’t agree with this influence? Or even worse, what about when this influence is brought onto us before we even have the capacity, as babies or toddlers, to state that we are not interested in the influence?
If these influences go against our preferences or against how we feel about the situation, here’s what will most likely happen: We’ll be made to toe the line in whichever way our imposer (caretaker) deems. Religious influence is one example. Yes, even though almost all religions are advocates of what we refer to as “love,” religious influences can be and are imposed on us from a very young age. And mind you, as we grow up, we invariably do exactly the same to others. We have our “ways” (handed down to us, most likely by imposition), and we then hand those ways down to our offspring, again, most likely by imposition. And so the cycle goes on and on and on.
When we are very small, we accept the influences of those around us without question, and we are completely at the mercy of our caretakers. With this drive in our human cycle, what do we experience in this “pressure” situation? We do not know any better, so eventually, with all the pressure we crack: The tree is bent in the ways of someone else—those before us, and before those—in whose immediate care we are. We are oblivious of what is happening, and our caregivers are also oblivious of what they are doing. Nobody really questions the process. In any event, as a two or three year old, there is no thinking of questioning since we are in the hands of our caregivers.
When we crack, we most likely, in that moment, conclude that the pressure we are experiencing must be because something is wrong with us. Meaning that, in our thinking, if something weren’t wrong with us, then why would we be experiencing the pressure—why would we be expected to do things we’d prefer not to do? And, if something wasn’t wrong with us, why would we be feeling that it—whatever is expected of us—isn’t really what we’d like or want to do?
Recall that those doing this to us were exactly in the same boat. And so the cycle continues.
But it goes further. When we crack from the pressure, from that moment on, we live only to prove one thing—that nothing is wrong with us. From that moment, we are lost to ourselves. In that moment, we take on our “Factor-x”—a way to reference that moment and what indeed happens in that moment. So in that moment, Factor-x is born and we are lost to it. And we are likely oblivious about what has indeed happened to us.
Fortunately, we create Factor-x; no one else created it for us. Just as fortunately, Factor-x isn’t real.
Why is all this fortunate? If it were real, we wouldn’t have any other way forward, other than living to disprove our Factor-x. If someone else created it, then we would be at their mercy. So if we created our Factor-x and it isn’t real, then we can undo its creation. And that is what makes it fortunate.
Thus in the same way we created it, we can reverse its creation.
Alas, reversing the creation of Factor-x in a particular moment is easier said than done. We need to recapture that moment. We need to feel that moment. We need to accept that moment. We need to have courage so we can see that moment—the courage to be brutally honest with ourselves to see and experience that moment.
But here is another fortunate part of this tragedy. Every moment we endeavor to disprove that something is wrong with us, we have an opportunity to see the following two things: what actually happened when we cracked from being bent while still young, and how and why our Factor-x was born.
With courage and honesty, it isn’t difficult to see the influence of this tragedy we created. It is, however, extremely difficult to accept it. Yet without accepting it, there is no moving beyond it. Factor-x holds us hostage. Every person around us, wherever we look, has likely fallen into the hands of their Factor-x. So Factor-x is, in all likelihood, holding almost every soul for ransom.
Factor-x stays with us forever. But it’s possible to get out of the grip of what we created—of how we hold ourselves hostage with Factor-x—if we know about it, and if we consciously want to free ourselves.
Be warned, however: To identify Factor-x is one thing, but to break out of its spell is not for the fainthearted.
If we have the honesty to acknowledge our Factor-x and the courage to befriend our Factor-x, we can free ourselves and break the cycle. Even so, that is easier said than done. After reading this book, perhaps you would like to rush out and tell those around you—your direct family or associates—about your discovery. If you do, likely they would frown on you, as if you had a terrible life and upbringing. Unfortunately, but also very fortunately, it works this way. Only people who are ready for this will actually look at what their life is like. And only they will see their Factor-x. Others that haven’t looked are oblivious, and when we relate what we’ve discovered, they’ll merely assume we must have had a tough life. They might even feel sorry for us.
So even when we uncover ourselves, those around us are likely not there yet—at the point of questioning and or uncovering themselves. They likely have no idea what has happened to them. So be aware that you will almost certainly stand all on your own in this quest. You won’t want to take part in things you used to take part in. You’ll uncover your own preferences, most likely very different from your previous ones, and different from those of your social circle as well. This is understandable, since people in our social circles are almost certainly driven by their Factor-x. You, on the other hand, are breaking out of its spell. This can cause a major divide between you and them. Those who know you won’t recognize this person you seem to have changed into. Now that you’re not taking part in the cycle of passing onto others whatever is dictated to you by your Factor-x, this dynamic might even prevent you from having thecourage to recognize your Factor-x and to break out of its influence over you.
So in addition to uncovering yourself—because of your adjusted preferences and different behavior—in all likelihood, you will stand alone. This takes courage—more courage than the average person can easily muster.