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Cultural Conditioning

  • is the set of values represented by family, ethnic and religious influences
  • is inescapable in the early part of our spiritual journey
  • must be reduced if we are to nurture growth in the spiritual life 

  • MC: 20
  • FG: 78-79
  • AW: 81-84
  • TS: 13
  • HC: 35
  • IL: 40
  • MG: 90, 91 
  • OMOH: 126
  • *OMOH: 170 

The spiritual journey is initiated when we become aware that our ordinary psychological consciousness is dominated by the false self with its programs for happiness and over-identification with our cultural conditioning. 

Related Concepts




Cultural conditioning is a product of the environment that we experienced during infancy and early childhood; it involves family, social, and religious values. 

Although cultural conditioning is predominant in the early part of the spiritual journey, over-dependence on a particular is gradually removed by circumstances, often through a double bind which forces us to grow beyond the limitations and influences of our culture, early childhood and upbringing, and religious background. 

This growth leads to interior freedom, which is God’s goal for each of us. St. Therese of Lisieux calls this liberation “The Little Way.”   To dismantle excessive group identification, let go of preconceived ideas, prepackaged values, and over-identification with the mindsets of the particular group we identify with. It also means openness to spiritual development beyond group loyalties and to whatever God’s future plans may be.


 Reflection: Listening

Sources of cultural conditioning are family, patriotic, social, and religious values. 

Reflection: Reflecting

What preconceived ideas or values might be thwarting your growth? In what ways might you let go of over-identification with a particular group?

Reflection: Responding

Let go of negative family and social values. Experience freedom and growth. Be open to the values of the Gospel. Reflect on them again and again. Consider and question your group loyalties. Are some excessive or overly dependent?