Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Challenging childhood beliefs - a gift to you for 2015.

This is the December Wellbeing column from the York Press. It was published before Christmas, so for today, the last day of 2014, I am change the word 'Christmas' in the first paragraph to 'New Year 2015.'

I'm greatly encouraged by York Press asking me to write more columns for them in 2015.

I'm also starting to write a new book on Monday January 5th for a summer publication date.

Neither of those last two sentences could have been written, if I still held on to beliefs from my childhood.

I would like to give you a gift this New Year 2015. Just for you.

Sometimes in practice, I would ask the client the following question, “ When you were a child, did you believe in Father Christmas?” Usually, the answer was, “ Yes.”

Then I would ask if they still believe in Father Christmas? Of course, the answer was, “No.”

The discussion would move on to fairies, a man in the moon, how babies are born and the variety of stories we were once told, but don’t believe in anymore. Though I would sometimes add, that of course fairies do exist!  I have a lost sock fairy, biscuit fairy, car keys fairy and a remote control fairy. You may have your own too.

When we were young children, we generally believed what our ‘olders and betters’, told us. Sometimes there were good and fun reasons to be told something, such as Father Christmas.
Sometimes we were told things that weren’t fun. Scary and frightening things. These could include personal comments.
However, when we grow up, the evidence we see, hear and read can change our minds. If we are emotionally healthy, we leave behind the childhood beliefs, if they aren’t helpful to us. We take on new beliefs – we grow up emotionally. Children who were evacuated in the war, had labels with their names on. Emotionally immature adults can still be wearing labels given to them as children. Is that you? It’s time to tear up those labels.
This is my gift. If you still hold some negative beliefs from childhood, leading to some unhelpful adult choices, here’s a tool to challenge them. 
Ask yourself these questions. 
  1. Did you ever believe in the tooth fairy? 
  2. If so, who told you it existed? 
  3. Do you believe in the tooth fairy now? 
  4. How old were you when you learned the truth about the tooth fairy? 
  5. What evidence made you change your mind? 
Now change some words: remove ‘the tooth fairy’ from the above sentences and replace them with your own limiting beliefs. Some examples…you were… unloved, unwanted, friendless, hopeless, stupid, a failure, no good, useless or any other negative descriptions attributed to you? (Basically, words or deeds that you believed, and left you with a feeling that you were not good enough in some way.) 
Some further questions, if you still have those negative beliefs.

6. Did that person really know you? 

7. What was the context? Look at the whole picture. Look at the other people in the picture.

8. Do you think the comments/stories/labels are still relevant today? 

 9. If you do, why? What is the evidence? Facts, not imagined.

10. Could you put away those childhood memories of negativity and recall times when there is evidence to show that these statements are now inaccurate? 

11. If not, why not?  This New Year, treat yourself. Throw away the old, stale beliefs and open up some new helpful ones in my gift. 
I wish you a Hopeful and Positive New Year.


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