We all see the world in a specific way. Call it what you will…. paradigm… window on the world… frame of reference, it is all the same. It dictates to a large degree how we think, feel and behave in any given situation. It is our conditioning that we bring from childhood with all the positive and negative aspects of our interaction with our parents and the world we grew up in. It generally defines us as people, holds our core beliefs about ourselves and life and we have trouble changing it.
However, at times it is preferable to change certain aspects of the way we see the world. Let’s not forget, much of our conditioning comes from the conditioning of other people who passed it on and we adopted it as a blueprint for life. Sometimes this is good but there are always aspects of this conditioning that need attention and changing. Sometimes we have such conviction in what we learnt from our parents that it is difficult to believe that there is an alternative but there always is.
I often encourage my clients to see their conditioning and paradigm as a bag that they carry from childhood into adulthood. A bag full of experiences and lessons, defense mechanisms and influences, all holding positive and less positive aspects of our adopted view of the world. This bag carries our core beliefs that we hold dear and are often reluctant to change. The protector voices that consolidate our core beliefs with critical influences of rigid thinking and escape will often crop up to make sure that no-one delves into that bag. They really don’t want you to go through the same experiences again and will react when triggered. In therapy, before describing and working on the contents of the bag, these voices need nurturing and taken care of so that they are on board while core beliefs are examined. They can often complicate the process if they are not.This metaphorical bag that carries our core beliefs is stuck on a layer below the protector voices who tend to promote automatic thinking and reaction. We are denied access to the bag by this layer of voices and critical thinking, sometimes by choice. Sometimes because we know no different.
Delving into this bag can be an emotionally raw experience and just seeing core beliefs that you have held true for years on paper can be enough. Questioning in therapy can reveal these and can be formulated so:
I was lead to believe… I was not good enough… I must subdue my needs… relationships work in a certain way…. etc
I was taught that……………
These are in effect, the mantras that we hold concerning the world, our place in it, the people we are attracted to and involve ourselves with. This is our blueprint and our protector voices are the gatekeepers that hold it true and present. Once revealed, a process can be started that put these into perspective:
Given my core beliefs identified, they have led me to think in the following way……
Thinking this way has led me to see the world as…………
Seeing the world this way has led me to behave in the following ways………..
Once this has been achieved, it is time to start on the process of discovering new beliefs. This can be done by looking over the work done so far and finding healthier mantras.
Given what I know now, I choose not to believe (old core belief) and would like to believe (new core belief)
I accept that I was working on an old blueprint and I choose to change that to…..
Then the question of definitive action and self-discipline come into the equation.
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