We learn from our experiences by evaluating evidence. We form beliefs based on our interpretation of what happened.

Many people have an underlying belief that they are unworthy, not good enough, not lovable or somehow fundamentally wrong. As adults, we can use logic and perhaps even see that isn’t actually true. Yet it persists.

Difficult experiences are stored in our body along with the associated memories and thoughts. That tightening of your neck and shoulders when you hear a tone of voice that reminds you of being ridiculed. The clench in your gut. The collapse into a feeling of hopelessness.

“People pick the most devastating explanation for an experience then react as if it were true.” Dr Gabor Maté

What are some alternative explanations for your experience? Were you unlovable or was your parent so shut down emotionally that they didn’t have the capacity to connect with you? Did your parent drink because you were a bad kid or were they escaping their own trauma? Were you “too sensitive” or did your parents have limited resilience?

Our core deficiency beliefs form as a way to protect us. Think of a child who brings home a less-than-perfect report card and their parent lashes out with cruel words. We try to avoid a repeat by studying harder. When that doesn’t make our parents happy, we might put increasing pressure on ourselves to be perfect. Others give up or rebel.

The experiences you had are not your fault. Your strategies for surviving it are not your fault.

Children turn against themselves. Believing it is our fault is less scary than acknowledging we can’t control our parents and keep ourselves safe.

It was not your fault. You believed something that is not true. Through mindfulness inquiry we can be present for ourselves with kindness and compassion. This is how we see through these incorrect beliefs and begin to know our own basic goodness.

Experiences and Their Meaning
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