“Children are domesticated the same way that we domesticate a dog, a cat, or any other animal. In order to teach a dog we punish the dog and we give it rewards. We train our children whom we love so much the same way that we train any domesticated animal: with a system of punishment and reward. We are told, “You’re a good boy,” or “You’re a good girl,” when we do what Mom and Dad want us to do. When we “don’t, we are “a bad girl” or “a bad boy.
When we went against the rules we were punished; when we went along with the rules we got a reward. We were punished many times a day, and we were also rewarded many times a day. Soon we became afraid of being punished and also afraid of not receiving the reward.
The reward is the attention that we got from our parents or from other people like siblings, teachers, and friends. We soon develop a need to hook other people’s attention in order to get the reward.
The reward feels good, and we keep doing what others want us to do in order to get the reward. With that fear of being punished and that fear of not getting the reward, we start pretending to be what we are not, just to please others, just to be good enough for someone else.
We try to please Mom and Dad, we try to please the teachers at school, we try to please the church, and so we start acting. We pretend to be what we are not because we are afraid of being rejected.
The fear of being rejected becomes the fear of not being good enough. Eventually we become someone that we are not. We become a copy of Mamma’s beliefs, Daddy’s beliefs, society’s beliefs, and religion’s beliefs.
All our normal tendencies are lost in the process of domestication. And when we are old enough for our mind to understand, we learn the word no. The adults say, “Don’t do this and don’t do that.” We rebel and say, “No!”
We rebel because we are defending our freedom. We want to be ourselves, but we are very little, and the adults are big and strong. After a certain time we are afraid because we know that every time we do something wrong we are going to be punished.”
Excerpt From: Don Miguel Ruiz. “The Four Agreements.”