Learned Beliefs and Acquired Behaviour Patterns

Image of man and child to represent how beliefs are acquired

In the very depths of your being, you have a basic view of who you are and how you fit into the world. Everyone has that fundamental belief system, that basic view of self, which has a lot to do with the teachings received since the moment you were born. Many of those teachings, especially those about the practical nature of our environment will have been fairly accurate and useful, for the most part. But we can all suffer erroneous beliefs about self so easily, having taken on board ideas that were absorbed when we were young — when we did not have the knowledge or experience to challenge them.

The role of parents

Once absorbed, it can be astonishingly difficult to completely “unlearn” an inaccurate idea, especially if it has been confirmed a few times by the process of living – and by those with a vested interest of some sort, such as by one’s parents.

If you are wondering what sort of vested interest any parent might have about imparting a false belief about self to their child, well, parents do tend to have a habit of suffering frustration and/or wanting to maintain some sort of control. Here is a tiny example: a child’s punishment often has little or no bearing on the severity of the “crime”, but on the mood of the parents at the time. In this way, the individual may acquire the belief that his or her success or happiness in life is dependent upon the whims of others and is therefore likely to become subservient.

Here is another example, based on misunderstanding. Child A is bright and intelligent. The sibling, who we will call child B, is not so talented and their parents, feeling sorry or guilty or a combination of both, give more supportive attention to this child and assume that Child A knows he or she is clever and so on and therefore does not need so much praise. Child A does know that he or she is clever, but observing the extra attention that Child B gets, takes on board the erroneous belief that being clever means you do not get loved so much. So there are two courses of action — pretend to be less successful or become self-obsessed and maybe even defiantly arrogant or insular.

In addition to control issues, the parents’ own hang-ups and inhibitions will dictate a certain way of being with their children, inhibitions that were created by their parents’ misinformation. This shows up most clearly in the various “taboos” that may be instilled, the majors ones usually being of a sexual nature and brought about by the parents’ own sense of guilt.

Learning by example

We learn so much from our teachers, parents, other relatives, mentors, etc. For example, we learn that we cannot talk easily to the opposite sex, or that we cannot talk to anybody without suffering some form of anxiety. We can learn that authority figures are to be feared to the point of instant submission; that small spaces are highly dangerous;  that spiders are a serious threat; that certain foods will produce illness; that certain body functions are totally disgusting; that we simply cannot do the things that other people do; that we are in some almost invisible way totally different from the rest of the human race… or any one of thousands of other behaviour patterns.

In short, we learn many things that are not always helpful. These beliefs are acquired and developed in childhood as we seek to create an understanding of the world around us.

Cumulative trauma

Some of the things we learn can be brought about by a “one shot” trauma that we might possibly have somehow managed to forget, even though the results of it are still evident. However, most of the things we learn occur by a continual, but less profound onslaught to the developing thought processes, a situation sometimes known as cumulative trauma. Any one of the events in a cumulative trauma “chain” would not be severe enough to cause a problem on its own, but taken as a whole, the effects can be profound.

Simple cumulative trauma

This is the constant repetition of a negative idea or circumstances (usually from a parent, relative, or mentor) over a long period of time, probably years. This continuous programming of a suggestible child carries on to the point where the child simply ceases to consciously listen. And that is when the damage is done, because the subconscious definitely does not stop listening and takes those suggestions “on board” quite readily.

Compound cumulative trauma

This is where fate ensures the repetition of like events that create strong feelings of vulnerability within the developing child. For instance, the mother leaves. The father finds life impossible and hands the child to other relatives. They cannot cope and send the child into foster or adoptive care. Then, the foster or adoptive family breaks up. The child is bullied at school. Then, once the child becomes an adult, the first company that he or she works for goes bust, and the low personal confidence that results from all of this ensures that emotional relationships start to founder… and then the whole process continues.

A conditioned response

Many of our thoughts and behaviour patterns are nothing more than a conditioned response. As children we may have been brainwashed to the point where we do not even realise that there is anything amiss with our thought processes. After all, it was has been taught and insisted upon – it has become an automatic, and therefore hidden, thinking pattern — entirely normal for us.

Experience and experiment will undo a lot of it, where it needs to be undone, but for many the continual harangue of general ineffectiveness, worthlessness and/or uselessness manifests itself in later life. Some people actually expect to be stupid, clumsy or fat, or whatever has been programmed into them – it is a type of self-fulfilling prophecy.

It can be more subtle. An anorexic individual may have been told as an overweight child (and many anorexics were overweight as children),“Nobody ever loves a fatty.” The obese individual may have been taught that if they did not eat all their food, they were of less value as a person. (“There are lots of children who would think of themselves as being lucky…”.)

The symptoms can also be reversed. The overweight child/adult eats for comfort, because they are “fat” and therefore unlovable. And, the thin child who becomes an anorexic adult tries not to eat at all because their parents’ concerned reaction to their thinness and low appetite has created an association of anxiety with eating.

Overcoming learned beliefs about self

For greater well being, our limiting beliefs and negative behavioural patterns, which have been acquired from our early programming, need to be “reprogrammed” in some way. Well, what better way to do that than with hypnosis? After all, those erroneous beliefs about self need to be reprogrammed at a subconscious level. We can use guided self hypnosis to at least question our beliefs and investigate any memories associated with their formation. By doing this in an indirect way, we can subtly bring about a realization of truth, safely and securely.

An individual with simple cumulative trauma is easier to help with self hypnosis and there are various advanced hypnotherapy techniques at our disposal. However, there is no easy way to unravel the thinking processes and acquired behaviour patterns that have been created by compound cumulative trauma, unfortunately.

Our self hypnosis recordings can often help the mind to resolve its difficulties and conflicts to a certain extent, but for deep-rooted issues hypnoanalysis would be the preferred treatment methodology. It would, though, require a fair amount of careful interaction.