When you’re a kid, you believe what you’re told. What you’re told, what you see, what you hear or overhear. Everything is just input, because you’re not born with any context in which to place your experiences. But that input includes emotional and value system content as well as simple information ~ which is why children will often exhibit the same likes and dislikes as their parents, the same preferences and prejudices. (Explaining why the old “do as I say, not as I do” admonition never works for long.)
From a very early age, we start assembling the stories of our lives with these bits and pieces of so-called reality. We don’t really even question our perceptions of reality and truth until we reach that magical age (which is different for everyone) during which we suddenly begin testing the boundaries and doing “stupid” stuff that drives our parents mad, just to see what will happen.
But the “truths” we test during this time are often surface truths (Will mom really ground me for life if I ditch school after lunch?) while the core beliefs that are at the center of our reality ~ our perceptions of who we are and whether or not we’re worthy or good or attractive or intelligent ~ are hardly ever tested in this way. Particularly if they are “bad things” beliefs.
For whatever reason, believing what you absorbed when you were an experience sponge doesn’t stop when you grow up. If anything, the belief gets stronger, because we take over the retelling of the story ~ and we’re better at it than anyone outside our heads. We know where the weak spots are, where to set the drip feed, and how to program a continuous loop ~ we can almost literally set it and forget it. In fact, it works better that way.
Your subconscious mind never works better than when your conscious mind isn’t paying attention.
The flip side of that, and how you can turn it to your advantage, lies in knowing that we believe what we are told over and over again ~ especially if we’re the ones who are doing the telling. Knowing gives us the option of changing the story we tell ourselves, thereby changing our lives. And all it takes is a small change.
For instance, when I was a kid, I used to tell my little sister, Cherie, that she was adopted. (Who knows why?) At first she would get upset and go howling off to our mama to be reassured, while I practiced my innocent face. I don’t remember how mama reacted, and I don’t know if she thought it up herself or if someone suggested it to her, but I do remember when Cherie took the teeth out of my teasing. One day, her response to my taunt changed.
“Yeah? If I’m adopted that means they chose me,” she’d said, her mouth savoring the words. “They’re stuck with you!”
And as easily as that, she turned the story around, reversed its polarity, so to speak, from negative to positive, and, by changing the outcome of that story, changed her reality. That particular taunt had no more power over her, because she chose to rewrite that particular line. It’s an anecdote that she still recounts, to our mutual amusement, to this day.
We were very young at the time ~ maybe 8 and 5 ~ and it was a very vocal, very external exchange; perhaps that’s why it was so easy for her to turn the tables on that particular story. I made it up and told it to her. There wasn’t even a crumb of potential truth for it to feed on, and it wasn’t a story she ever internalized (at least not until after she’d turned it to her advantage).
Unfortunately, you can’t say that about most of the stories we tell ourselves as adults. Well before we’re grown, we’ve gotten really good at the set it and forget it programming, whether what’s on the air is good for us or not.
Until next time ~
next time: That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it . . .