A few days ago I a client of mine asked me a very important question about negative beliefs. The question was this: “Though we have indisputable value as human beings, and though we can be gifted and unique, why many times it’s so difficult to believe in ourselves? What kind of mechanism causes this effect on us?
The question is to the point and I would like to offer an answer below.
When we are born, we gradually begin to interact with the world around us. Through this interaction we discover our potential and talents. Let’s observe how children up to about 5 years old behave. They exhibit lots of happiness, self-acceptance and confidence for every new achievement, small or big.
Most importantly, they recognize their achievements. They also experience innate joy over them.
We realize that, when we are born we have an innate knowledge of our worth. At that moment we treat ourselves with genuine love and deep respect.
So what happens, when we move away from childhood and reach adulthood? Still, later in our lives we notice our self-esteem gradually shrinking or being heavily attacked. Why is that?
What actually does occur is our “education”? In the process of this education there are often some mistakes made by our educators; whether these are the parents or the teachers or the wider family or the community in its entirety.
I have identified four key educational mistakes that lead to the erosion of our self-esteem and the establishment of negative beliefs that limit human progress.
A first mistake is overprotection. Often parents and guardians of a child are overwhelmed by fear, insecurity, lack of organization, or lack of energy. This leads them to limit their child’s actions and activities. Without this action children lack the opportunity to interact with the environment, learn through experience, enhance their self-confidence, and discover and cultivate their skills.
On the contrary, children end up confined within the caveat of overprotection. This causes them insecurity, irritability (due to their creative energy not being used) and often anger and frustration.
When a parent exclaims, ” You can’t do this” or “That is not for you; let me do it”, they may have good intentions. However, what the child receives and perceives is: “I’m not good enough to do what the parent does. He/she is skilled and capable and I will never be able to reach his/her potential. “
When overprotective behaviors are repeated every day during a child’s upbringing, they gradually develop a network of negative beliefs. As a result, child’s creative potential is continually limited, until they reach adulthood, when he/she treats creativity and goal-setting with hesitation and fear. This essentially means that he/she will often procrastinate, when it comes to putting goals into action to better his/her life.
So this is the first mistake I have noticed leading to the birthing of negative beliefs.
A second mistake has to do with the way we address children. The words or phrases we use when we speak to children are often filled with negative and derogatory messages such as “you’re a stupid kid”, “don’t act like an idiot”, “you behave badly”, “are you that useless?”,“let me do it, you will just mess it up”,“you will never succeed in anything in your life ”and so on.
By these expressions, instead of encouraging the child and talking to her/him in such a way as to highlight his or her skills and experiences, we are launching a verbal torrent of violence against them. If this is done on a daily basis, the child comes to believe these abusive words are true. From my experience, I know that such conversations are stuck in the minds of many of my clients and while we work together towards healing, they discover with surprise and awe how these words have malformed their lives.
A third mistake I have identified is related to children observing how adults behave (parents and significant others). As we know from the sciences of psychology and ethics, the strongest way of transmitting knowledge to children is through the process of observation and imitation. Children observe everything around them with clear attention and absorption. Then they imitate these patterns. Anyone who comes into contact with children very easily can realize that. How the adults speak, how they eat and drink, how they treat animals, humans, and possessions, whatever activities they take part in, the child observes these behaviors and tends to reproduce them.
So, if the behaviors the kid observes and imitates are full of confidence, self-esteem and positive thinking, he/she will learn to behave as a confident, creative and positive adult as well.
If, however, the kid observes behaviors fueled by fear, hesitation, lack of confidence, and/or reluctance for creativity, then she/he imitates these behaviors and tends to apply them as adult life attitudes.
A fourth mistake I have detected in the child education system, both at home and at school, concerns the strong punitive attitude that we show toward children when their actions, words or behavior is considered to be wrong by adults. Instead of politely pointing out the appropriate action or behavior, instead of talking to children with encouragement and love, adults very often bluntly point out the erroneous action in aggressive and insulting ways. They completely omit to start their intervention by pointing out what kids have already done right (because no action can be totally wrong!). This unilateral criticism of pointing out the negatives rather than the positives, and in such a negative and aggressive way, reinforces the idea in children that they are not capable of achieving a creative goal, but are weak or unable to realize any action that can lead towards the scope they wish.
As you can see, through our educational system we often unknowingly neglect to lay the foundations of a robust framework of self-confidence and empowerment in children. On the contrary, we lay a framework of negative beliefs that tend to limit their creative potential in life. We need to be more aware of these destructive attitudes towards children so that we can provide them with a deeper understanding of how they can create what they want with joy and success. If we do, we will see more and more adults unleashing the counter-creative effects of negative beliefs and leading a happy and successful life.
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Last modified: July 2, 2021