A helpful analogy for understanding consciousness is to consider a human being as a highly advanced computer. In order for a computer to know what to do, software needs to be installed on the hard drive. The computer faithfully listens to and performs the functions the software tells it to do without questioning, even if the software is sometimes a bit faulty. Now imagine, for a second, that our consciousness is something like a computer hard drive and all our beliefs, habits and reactions are like the software…

Over our lifetime (beginning very early in childhood) we accumulate mounds of software; programming us to act and think a certain way, as defined by the culture we grew up in, our parents, our friends, the media and so on. We took on this conditioning automatically. We did not ask to be programmed. Just like the computer hard drive itself has no say in which programs the user puts on it, we didn’t choose which ones were thrown onto us.

The challenge here is that the innocence of the human mind cannot determine whether a program (conditioning) is beneficial or detrimental to its well being. Our hardware (the mind) easily installs these programs without hesitation or discernment. We may observe this in our automatic, unconscious reactions to certain situations or people and think ‘That wasn’t very nice, I wish I could have responded differently to that…’.

via The Programming of Our Consciousness – Waking Times.