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Examining our Childhood Beliefs

Do you struggle to go against the principles that were imprinted upon you as a child by your parents? Do you find that even as a grown up you are still being obedient and following your parents’ truth, not your own? It is time to start examining your beliefs to find those that no longer serve you.

When we are children our parents or guardians automatically imprint us with their values and belief systems. Many people keep the same guiding principles in place throughout their lives and then pass these on to their children too. This is fine as long as the values and beliefs are sound and fit the lifestyle and integrity of the adult, but what if there is a mismatch and the adult you no longer likes your childhood programming?

As a therapist and teacher I have met many people who have felt stuck in their lives because they were operating from the ‘old software’ that they were given in childhood that no longer supports their lifestyles and choices. Whether this was religious, moral or political inculcation, the conflict arises when they want to make different choices as independent adults and break away from the doctrines of their childhood. There can often be a bitter internal struggle taking place between the old and the new producing feelings of guilt and unease.

I’ve been working through this very process myself and I know how tough it can be. Some of my own story is told in Light behind the Angels and more deep soul searching has been needed since. It is an ongoing journey to bring the whole Self into total integrity.

Why is it so hard to go your own way? As a small child your parents seemed like great omnipotent beings. They held all the power and your very survival was dependent upon them. Research has shown that your mind is in a super-learning state when you are small. You literally absorb everything you are told at a young age and you don’t have the power to begin reasoning until the age of six. This is important for the acquisition of language and it is why very young children can learn multiple languages effortlessly. You aren’t just absorbing language however; as a small child every attitude, every opinion your parents express in front of you is imprinted upon you, so that their truths become your truths.

If you had wise parents who lived a lifestyle which is in harmony with the life you wish to live now then this early indoctrination will feel like your truth and you may feel very supported by it. However even if you had racist and bigoted parents you would still live your life by their values unless you reflected upon them and consciously decided they weren't such good principles to live by after all. This is why strife is played out between groups of people of different religions, colour, race and social class over generations. Until we start to reflect more deeply upon our values and question them we believe this is ‘just the way the world is.'

In truth most of us had parents that fell somewhere between the two extremes. We need to consider the beliefs handed down to us and question any that feel out of integrity. Which principles are truly yours and feel good and which don’t fit who you are anymore?

Here are a few common examples of beliefs that you could be carrying in your subconscious from early childhood which may be quietly undermining your progress:

Money doesn’t grow on trees.

Don’t get ideas above your station.

Speak when you are spoken to.

"Money doesn’t grow on trees," will keep you living in a scarcity mindset where you are worried about spending money in case you don’t get any more. If you want to feel abundant but can’t seem to make progress then perhaps you are carrying an old belief like this?

"Don’t get ideas above your station," is a slap down. If you were reprimanded for thinking of wonderful things you could be or do then your ambition may still have unconscious blocks across it.

"Speak when you are spoken to," may only have been levelled at you as a small child, but this old bit of operating software will still be working unless you have rooted it out, and you may have trouble speaking up for yourself now and feel subservient.

You need to strip down the outdated beliefs and overwrite them with fresh new ones that do support you. Affirmations can help. Your subconscious mind responds well to symbols and symbolic acts. You could programme a crystal with a new positive belief about yourself and carry it with you, seeing yourself looking radiant. You could write out the old belief and then symbolically shred the paper, burying it in the ground to rot and disintegrate, perhaps planting seeds or a plant on top to represent the new you growing out of the old.

The metamorphosis of a caterpillar into butterfly is a classic symbol for transformation that you might like to work with. The caterpillar has to let go of the old self and allow itself to be broken down in order to emerge from its chrysalis as a butterfly. Meditate on this if you find you are resisting the process of change and trying to hold onto the old. I’ve also worked with the image of a snake sloughing off its old skin so that it can emerge larger and more glossy.

A thorough examination of your beliefs will pay dividends as you’ll be more aware of what is truly yours and what needs to be discarded. This process may take a long while, but every time you release a belief that no longer serves you there is a space for something more life affirming to take its place.

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