Many theories of psychology such as Family Systems Theory and Family Constellations Theory hold that the family system is the most important organizational system in our lives. I think most of us would agree with that, theories aside. The family system is responsible for our early and most impressionable years of indoctrination. Indoctrination might seem like a strong word, but I think it is accurate.
Indoctrination is the process of forcibly inculcating ideas, attitudes, cognitive strategies or a professional methodology (see doctrine) by coercion. Wikipedia
So, it is indoctrination that I will use to emphasize the strength of impact of our early learning.
What we learn as babies and toddlers is pre-verbal for most and is what I will call implicit learning – though there is certain to be controversy in that regard, since the definition of implicit is somewhat up for debate. I am using it to mean how we learn without words, but with feelings. We learn how people feel about us and we internalize that internal emotional temperature – an emotional set point of sorts. We are little sponges soaking in the emotions of those around us and getting a fundamental read on life and how we are perceived. Are we good? Are we bad? Are we loved? Are we hated?
These pre-verbal messages are stored deep in our sub-conscious. By the time we are 8 or 9, we know our place in the world, who we are, how much we are worth and how loved we are. As we move on in life, we recreate the world of our childhood. What I mean by that is we recreate the emotional temperature. If we felt loved and wanted and valued, we find a future that matches this – it is a future resonant with our deeply inculcated beliefs. If we do not feel valued, suffer from physical or emotional abandonment and are undervalued, we will recreate that world too. And, we will create it over and over again. As a client recently said “I just keep pressing the repeat button.”
Are you repeating patterns over and over again? Do you feel helpless and frustrated to change this? As a coach, I see this everyday; As a human being, I experience it myself. This is not place for judgement, but compassion.
Please join in this conversation. I would love to hear your story.