One day without any warning my father took our much loved dog Sandy, a gorgeous border collie away without telling us. We never really knew where our dog went, so I guess it was easier to stop thinking about it. We loved that dog and it was it a terrible loss.
That was one of many deprivations inflicted on us by our father for what seemed like no apparent reason other than malice.
When a parent treats their children like this, it leaves a lasting impression. And they can make decisions about who they are and how the world works for them.
I had a client say to me recently that what happened to her was so long ago and she couldn’t see how it still affected her today 45 years later. And yet her life had been constantly out of order and she had struggled emotionally all of her life.
Childhood experiences write on our wall. They imprint on our unconscious mind and can leak through into our present reality until resolved.
It usually takes more than one experience of similar situations like the stolen dog to create a belief. I could rattle off many like being allowed to join gymnastics and then when it was discovered I was really good at it, the money for it dried up. Or how the same thing happened with the marching girl organisation I was so quickly pulled out of.
Perhaps it was all the clothes my mother put on lay by for me that all passed their pick up date and were returned to stock. Or the red Malvern Star bike that never made its way into my life that I prayed for every night.
Then it was not only what I didn’t get that shaped my belief system, but what was taken from me. My father ripped all my dozens of Beatles photos off my walls and burned them. That nearly broke my heart. Nothing but pure malice there. And the huge collection of rocks (I wanted to be a geologist or an archaeologist) I had accumulated from quarries and creek beds over years that were dumped for no reason at all.
There are many more instances like this that could be added. But this is not a pity party or a ‘poor me.’ This is about how our experiences shape our beliefs.
Viewed from an adult perspective and considering that many really poor and deprived people grow up to become incredibly wealthy, my petty experiences seem trivial and childish. And while that might well be true, I was a very intense, demanding and resentful child. And always being a ‘why’ sort of person, when I looked around and saw what others had, I wrongfully assumed that either some major flaw in me was responsible or that I was being punished by God.
So, by the time I was grown up I truly believed that I couldn’t expect to have what other people took for granted, even though that made no logical sense. I believed that life was a struggle and that I had to work harder than anyone to get even less results. Now, I didn’t sit around and consciously think these thoughts, but they did lurk in the back of my mind and they did show up in results in every area of my life.
What fantastic limiting beliefs to be trying to negotiate the world with. But because I had so many limiting experiences which confirmed my ‘reality,’ these beliefs were not easy to change.
But change they did. Not overnight. But with some deep inner work.
Childhood teaches us who we are. But it’s not final. That version of ourselves and our perspective on life can be changed. We can choose to change. Although childhood can be a fertile breeding ground for limiting and negative beliefs, it is never set in cement, even though it might feel like it sometimes.