Children’s Perceptions Are Their Reality

False Beliefs

Our conscious mind generates our conscious choices.  Our subconscious mind generates our subconscious choices.

Much of what comprises our conscious mind is information we have accumulated, in one way or another, over the course of our lifetime.  This is a myriad of information that allows us to make decisions throughout each day; from large (such as purchasing a house) to small (such as deciding which shirt to wear).  The more reliable the information, the more accurate the decision.

However, unlike the conscious mind, our subconscious is not primarily made up of information and facts, but of life experiences and emotions – both productive and toxic in nature.  Also, our subconscious houses the emotions that those experiences spawned.  Practically speaking, the reason these are subconscious (beneath our conscious awareness) may be related to a range of factors:

  • Lack importance or relevance in our current needs and priorities.
  • Not aligned with what our conscious mind understands.
  • Lead to undesirable outcomes.
  • Too painful for us to consciously process.
  • Rekindle memories of pain and loss.
  • Occurred a long time ago.

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, in their 2008 ScienceDaily article, entitled Decision-making May Be Surprisingly Unconscious Activity, concluded that,

Contrary to what most of us would like to believe, decision-making is a process handled to a large extent by unconscious mental activity.  The brain actually unconsciously prepares our decisions.  Even several seconds before we consciously make a decision, its outcome can be predicted from unconscious activity in the brain.

There is a proclivity for our false beliefs to be linked to what we came to believe early in our lives were the answers to these six unspoken questions:

  • Identity – “Who am I?”
  • Significance – “Am I acceptable?”
  • Worth – “Am I enough?”
  • Intimacy – “Am I known?”
  • Belonging – “Am I safe?”
  • Maturity – “Am I complete?”

Iceberg subconscious mindWe’re Not Necessarily Conscious of False Beliefs

False beliefs largely smolder somewhere in our subconscious mind.  These beliefs were created by how we interpreted shaming experiences during childhood, and they are solidified through “validating experiences” throughout adulthood.  A validating experience is an encounter in our adult life that validates or reaffirms the already deeply held false beliefs we internalized during childhood.  For example:  If we don’t perceive ourselves as being overweight and have no insecurities related to our body image, then our feelings won’t be hurt if someone teases us about our eating habits or lack of exercise.  But, if we are extremely insecure about our body image, having repeatedly been told by our parents that we’re chubby or lazy or unacceptable as a child, that shame message will be triggered by any type of comment related to our appearance, work ethic, or accomplishments, regardless the intention of the one communicating it.

On my own personal journey, there was a period of several years where I was scared to death that someone whom I loved might remove their love from me.  I convinced myself that I must have made a mistake, done something wrong, been disobedient, or disappointed them in some way.  And that was why they broke up, and why my dad left without even telling me.  This was my childhood reality, and in some strange way, these false beliefs allowed my immature mind to make sense of things, even though they were painful.  The truth didn’t really matter.  Feelings did.

Child’s Perception Of Reality

Many times, the internalizing of a false belief is not necessarily based upon actual reality, but more on the child’s perception of reality.  If the child craves a caregiver’s approval, and that adult seems disappointed when the child doesn’t get it just right, then the child will grow to become an adult who believes they are powerless to honestly share their opinion or needs or feelings without running the risk of losing the love, approval, and presence of that person.  In a twisted way, they believe it is better to have no opinion, to minimize their own needs, or to stuff down their true feelings than it is to risk losing someone because they were honest with them.  Is that thought based on factual information held in their conscious mind?  Absolutely not.  It’s far more real than that!

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