Today we are going to talk about your beliefs and how those beliefs are formed?
Firstly, what are beliefs?
Beliefs are statements which you hold true. Once a belief is made, there is a firm boundary set on that statement; anything outside that boundary is considered false.
Some common beliefs can be: "I am not worthy of love", "Feelings and emotions are dangerous", "I am powerless" " My needs are not important" "I am not good enough" etc…
For example, when you believe that you are not good enough, you firmly believe that you are never going to be good enough, no matter how hard you try. You will continually find "proof" that will support your belief, even if other people tell you that: your work is great, you are doing a fantastic job and you are ought to be proud of it. Because of you belief, you will filter through those comments to support your belief; therefore, you will not believe what other people are saying, and may even think that the person is lying.
How do your beliefs come about?
Your beliefs were formed when you were young, and through interactions with your parents, your family and your community when growing up.
Did you feel safe to express your feelings when you were younger?
Did you feel heard as a child?
Were your feelings validated?
Were you respected and valued for who you were?
Were your needs (both physical and emotional) met by your primary carer?
If you answer NO to any of the above scenarios, you may potentially build up a subconscious belief that "I am not worthy of love", "Feelings and emotions are dangerous", "I am powerless" " My needs are not important" "I am not good enough" etc…
Let's look at simple examples of how the belief of "feelings are dangerous" was formed:
Feelings are dangerous through culture and societal expectations:
For example where I come from – Malaysia, a developing country – work can dominate a family. In many families, parents worked very hard daily, and by the end of the day they were tired. They were worried about how to put food on the table etc and would not have had much time to think about their emotions or feelings, let alone paying attention to a child's feelings or emotions.
Parents will model this thought on to their child/children – we have no time for your emotions and feelings, so don't bother us …. if the child should express his or her emotions/feelings i.e. speaking out – he or she may be reprimanded, punished or yelled at.
For a young child, feelings and emotions are important and necessary. For a child who is unable to express his feelings, or have his emotions being considered a waste of time, unacceptable, or being viewed inconsiderate, they would potentially develop a belief that expressing feelings or showing emotions is something dangerous and inappropriate.
They may also develop the belief that they are not loved, not valued, and not being heard or having their needs met.
Another reason could be a cultural issue. For example, in Asian countries, it is not common to express feelings by telling your child you love them or embrace them physically.
A common way Asian parents express their love to their children is to express it through food and constantly "worrying" about the children's well being, whether they are too cold, too hot… (I really would love to hear your version of how your parents expressed love…).
It does not mean there is a lack of love or value for their children; parents really do love their children, but love can be expressed very differently.
However, the lack of expression can result in the child forming the belief that he or she is unloved, unappreciated, or not good enough … which may cause an unconscious sadness in them. So then they may not be comfortable expressing their feelings and emotions.
Societal expectations – conditional love
On top of that, there could be the expectations (conditional love) by the family and society. In some families, children are expected to behave in a certain manner, "perform" in a certain way, and to conform to societal expectations, i.e. their accomplishment, how they look, how they behave, their status in society, how affluent they are etc…
Everything the child does is according to the family’s and society's expectations. Under these circumstances, the child may believe that life is a stage: they need to constantly perform to meet the expectations or they would not be loved or judged.
They may also believe that they are never good enough to be loved or valued for who they are. Soon they may lose touch of their core sense and values, and what they really want and what they stand for.
The above explanations give you some background on how beliefs are formed – be conscious of them.
I will leave you with this quote from Ghandi: