Why is it that we so easily see the value in others, but not in ourselves? Is everyone else better than us? Is it true that we are not good enough or not worthy? What even makes someone ‘good enough’? These are the questions that make us human and no single person on this planet is exempt from asking them.
Have you ever seen a young child with issues of self-worth? Or one that is by nature truly judgemental of their peers? As young children we do not question our worth or that of others around us. Instead, we experience life wide-eyed and are constantly ready and willing to learn. In our inspired innocence, we sculpt masterpieces out of sand on trips to the beach, build epic, towering forts with blankets and pillows and run with our friends through long stretches of lawn only to collapse at the finish line in a heap of red-faced laughter.
I remember when my youngest son, Mason, had his first day of Kindergarten; we were walking to class, hand in hand, when I saw the Principal walking towards us. As we passed Mason proudly proclaimed,“ Do you know who I am? I’m Mason!” It’s that kind of energy and sense of self that we adore in our kids. But by the time we’re adults, a lot of what made us brilliant has faded.
How life changes us.
And although it sometimes feels like everything changed overnight, in truth the process of learning to become an adult started from a very young age. We are at our most vulnerable until the age of 7 and science dictates that this is when we do most of our unconscious learning. We assimilate everything we experience without question, and with that, our primary caregivers view of the world influences our own.
And the same thing happened to our parents. Generational patterns and beliefs run deep. And while these beliefs and patterns are intended to help or protect us, many can ultimately keep us in a holding pattern in our lives.
Aside from our inherited family world-view, we also form a world view from our early experiences at school, with friends and through general interaction with others. Throughout, our senses capture our reaction to and form an identity from what we see, hear, feel, taste, and smell. Good or bad, right or wrong or neutral, we are coded with a formula of how we see the world which informs us how to behave, interact and live in it.
During my recovery from Limbic System Injury, I learned that these patterns and beliefs may not have originated within me but they dictated much of how I responded and behaved in my life. It became clear that it was now my responsibility to change them if I intended to move towards a life I truly wanted. Did they really represent how I felt or what I believed about myself? Could they be trusted if they didn’t originate from me? What was the truth underneath them?
For me, one of these beliefs was that it was not safe to be seen or heard.
After several experiences in my childhood that reinforced this belief, it became part of my core identity; don't be too loud, too much or too out there. And it wasn’t until I started retraining that I was able to objectively understand why that was, and in becoming a curious observer of my past, challenge what I’d thought to be true. In challenging the belief I saw how false it was, and seeing this truth I was able to let it go.
We always get to decide who we want to be.
When I was about six I decided that ballerina’s were amazing and I thought it would be fun to learn how to be one! Soon after I found myself in ballet class in a local community center wearing a pink leotard, ballet slippers and my sun-streaked brown hair up in a high bun. I felt regal and graceful as I leapt and twirled around the room before class started.
I can still see it now. The instructor walking in wearing a flowing, sheer, lavender skirt; she is the picture of grace. I hear her steady and clear instructions of what is expected of us, and remember the moves she directs us to repeat over and over and over again; from first to fifth position and back again. After a few tedious minutes of this, I quickly become restless. This wasn’t like the twists and twirls of the dancers I’d seen on TV.
And with the inhibitions of a six year old, I break free. While the other girls still form an orderly row, I’m watching my arms, hands and fingers lift like wings, toes pointed and cutting like a knife through the space around me. I am dizzy with movement and I am the only one in the room having any fun. I encourage my newly found ballet sisters to join in and several leap to the challenge. In that moment I know who I am, who we are.
I began to sense the judgement and impatience of the adults in the room.
I know my time is short now so I take the last few whispers of freedom to paint the air with trails of movement, as the ballet instructor herds us all back in place. She later tells my mom that I was better suited to creative dance. Learning to dampen the intensity of who I am was reinforced that day. The day I learned the same conformity my mother had learned before me. This limiting belief is one that still rises up every now and again, but I am now wise to it. It doesn’t settle into the crevices of my mind like it used to. To challenge these ideas when they arise is my proof of the growth I’ve witnessed in myself. And now, when something feels untrue to who I am, I ask myself, is it time to unlearn this too?
What do you need to unlearn? Is it time to change your generational patterns and beliefs?
Dawn Minami a Certified Health Coach, HeartMath®, Master NLP® and Mental and Emotional Release® Practitioner. She is also the mother of a family that spent the best part of a decade all living with Lyme disease. Having liberated not only herself, but also her husband and 3 children, she is now a passionate advocate for neuroplasticity, breaking free from our conditioning and building great health against the odds. Dawn is now making up for lost time pursuing yoga, hiking, singing and spending time in nature with her limbically challenged rescue boxer, Faith. Dawn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram @dawnbradleyminami
*Mental and Emotional Release® is a registered trademark of Advanced Neuro Dynamics, Inc. and is exclusively licensed to the Association for Integrative Psychology, Inc.