It’s not your fault that you grew up feeling what you felt.
When we’re kids, we don’t have any real cognizance of why we feel what we feel. We just feel it.
When we’re kids, we assume pretty much everything is about us— including our negative feelings.
We don’t understand that the adults in our world essentially carve out our early environment for us.
We don’t understand that our relative size and inexperience makes us essentially helpless when we’re being controlled and manipulated.
So we assume, when we grow up feeling bad, guilty, inadequate…that it’s our fault.
We assume that, if we grow up feeing unloved, it’s because we’re unlovable— rather than the adult sin our environment have issues of their own.
We assume that if we’re getting bullied at school, it’s because we’re somehow asking for it— rather than our bullies have been reinforced for destructive social behavior.
Once we get the idea that it’s our fault stuck in our heads, that idea deepens into a belief.
Beliefs become easier to believe, the longer we believe them.
The longer we believe something, the more practice we get at seeking out confirmation that our belief is true— and disregarding evidence that our belief may not be true.
That’s why the ideas we’re “given” when we’re kids are so important.
Sometimes you hear the idea of self-esteem mocked. Some people seem to think it’s about giving kids participation trophies and making everyone feel good all the time.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Cultivating self-esteem in kids is about planting the seeds of the belief that we are capable and we are worthy.
Ideas become beliefs.
Beliefs get entrenched as they are cognitively “practiced” over years and years.
The beliefs you and I have, right here, right now, about ourselves, others, the world, the future— we believe them because we’ve practiced and reinforced them.
Maybe they serve us, maybe they don’t. Maybe those beliefs came from reliable, realistic sources, maybe they didn’t.
Recovering from depression, anxiety, trauma, or addiction, often requires us to reevaluate things we’ve believed about ourselves for years.
Reevaluating things we’ve believed for years is hard. It’s awkward. Our brain doesn’t like to question things it thinks it “knows.”
But the truth is, we believe a lot of things because those were the ideas we were handed when we were young, and were repeated and reinforced…not necessarily because they are true.
The good news is, beliefs change.
Even deeply held beliefs can change. They change every day.
When a belief changes within us, our world changes.
Our assumptions change, our feelings change, the lens through which we view the world changes.
It might be time to step away from the beliefs you were handed once upon a time.
Yup. That’s easier said than done.
But there are certain beliefs about ourselves, the world, and the future that we just can’t carry with us into recovery.
Your default beliefs are not your fault. You were a kid. You didn’t know.
But it truly doesn’t have to be this way inside our heads now.
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