DEVELOPMENT OF BELIEF SYSTEMS IN CHILDHOOD:
We develop our most fundamental belief systems in childhood. If a child is brought up with love, affection and security s/he tends to build up positive beliefs. For example:
– people should not treat me badly
– I am a decent and likeable person
– I have rights
– I deserve respect
However, negative belief systems often develop in children who have been abused. For example:
– people cannot be trusted
– I am vulnerable
– I am worthless
– everyone is out to get me
– I am intrinsically unlovable
These negative beliefs often feel very true, but most of the time they are very inaccurate. JUST BECAUSE WE FEEL OUR BELIEFS ARE TRUE, IT IN NO WAY LOGICALLY FOLLOWS THAT THEY ARE.
In effect, then, childhood abuse can cause us to become PREJUDICED AGAINST OURSELVES – we see ourselves through a kind of distorting, black filter.
Negative, prejudiced self-beliefs are dangerous as they may become a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example:
– someone who thinks s/he will always fail may, as a result, not try to achieve anything and therefore not succeed in the way s/he in fact had the potential to do (if only s/he had believed in her/himself).
– someone who believes s/he is unloveable (when in reality this is untrue) may never attempt to form close relationships thus remaining unnecessarily lonely and isolated.
In summary, childhood EXPERIENCES form OUR FUNDAMENTAL BELIEF SYSTEMS. This in turn affects:
– our mood
– our behaviour
– our relationships
This negative belief system can become deeply entrenched. It is therefore necessary to ‘re-program’ our belief systems and I shall be examining how this might be achieved in later articles.
David Hosier. BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).