The Power Of Associations | Why Our Formative Experiences Matter (a lot)

The Power Of Associations | Why Our Formative Experiences Matter (a lot)

Written by dating coach for men Gary Gunn - Founder of Social Attraction

In this article, I will explain how the power of associations has shaped my life.

When I was seven years old to punish me my Mum would send me into the hallway to read while my brothers played video games in the living room.

As a consequence, I hated reading and I associated all of my childhood pain towards picking up a book.

Thanks, mum!

I know that she was trying her best. She simply did not understand the power of associations created in our formative years.

Picking up a book and trying to read over the years would give me:

  • Headaches
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Pulsating feelings all over my neck, back and shoulders

Somehow I was able to navigate, school, college and university without reading a single manuscript or textbook.

I was uncultured and unrefined.

Even though I have a degree, I was uneducated at the age of twenty-one.


The power of associations – I linked reading with pain in my childhood


Twelve years ago, however, I realised that to become a professional coach, speaker and presenter I needed to work on my vocabulary.

Therefore, I made a conscious choice to read more books.

I remember starting with a manuscript in one hand and a dictionary in the other until I invested in a Kindle. This way, I could use the touch screen facility for easier access to exact definitions.

Some days I could read for less than thirty seconds before the anxiety kicked in. Likewise, on other days I could last a solid fifteen minutes – success!

Nonetheless, over the past twelve years of my life, I have read over six hundred books.

These range from conflict management, success guides, autobiographies to Russian Classics, Stoic Philosophy and Persian Poetry.


What changed you ask?


To be honest – not much!

I am now thirty-five years old and the waves of melancholy, anxiety and ill feelings towards reading still exist to this day.

I simply accept that they are, and will always be, part of me and my life.

For example, at the moment I am reading The Count of Monte Cristo and the first few chapters have me on edge.

I am encapsulated and then, all of a sudden chapter, 4 hits me like an iron bar. Subsequently, I am stuck for over a week fighting with myself. Trying everything I can to get through this short chapter.

This is how it always goes, until a sudden shift in energy and concentration, then, and only then, success.

I manage to get my way through it and back with an electric feeling for chapter 5. 

I am unsure whether this is a right of passage for anyone reading the classics.

That is to say if the learning lessons are perhaps so engrained in the book that it requires the pain of reading in this manner to appreciate the author’s words and their true meaning.


Either way, this Jekyll and Hyde struggle remains.


Waking up every morning and accepting that life is hard in a strange way, I think, makes it easier to cope.

With the engrained positive psychology of the modern era, many of us just want affirmation that everything will be ok in the end. Yet, this ultimately only serves to denigrate the ebbs and flows of our daily lives.

There is no easy without hard. There is no calm without anxiety.

And there is certainly no victim without victim mentality in our own life manuscript.


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