Val is a life-long practically oriented student of effective emotional and attitudinal responses to the many challenges of life.
Children are not born for the benefit of their parents, neither are they the property of their family. They belong to the future.
-- Anton St. Maarten
On a You tube video a man is put under a trance and given a post-hypnotic suggestion that upon awakening from it he will feel an urge to take his shoes off and then put them back---but on the opposite feet.
And so the man does; and now, fully (?) awaken he is asked to look at the shoes of the audience sitting in the front row and to tell is he can see anything unusual there. "Yes" - he says - "all of these people got their shoes on their wrong feet. Hey, guys, don't you feel uncomfortable like that?!"
How many of us happen to go through life having thoughts, emotional reactions, and doing things that are unnatural to us---but we still keep doing them, as if possessed by some volition that we can't resist?
Technically, we are just as hypnotized as the man in the above experiment. Hypnosis is all about beliefs that are not challenged. In that sense, they are "mental addictions" to which we slave not knowing about that slavery.
Addictions are telling an uncomfortable truth about the way our repeated thoughts attach themselves to our sense of self-preservation. Namely, such a mental or physical routine gains importance of a survival strategy.
So we may follow behaviors which are not life-promoting in any way, even being silly, just because we feel compelled to do it -- compulsion coming from the depths of our childhood experiences.
The initial trauma of a young child may go underground, but it will return to haunt us.
-- James Garbarino
Selling Ourselves Short -- where Did It Start?
In another experiment aquarium is divided in the middle by a transparent sheet of glass---on one side a hungry and greedy pike is placed, and on the other side a few minnows, a typical pike's food.
Immediately after, the big fish starts charging towards the minnows, repeatedly hitting its nose against the glass. It goes like that for a while, until at one point the pike obviously loses any interest for that unavailable food. Then the glass barrier gets removed from the middle, and now the pike is swimming peacefully side by side with the minnows.
How many of us, with a confidence crippled in our childhood by those constant prohibitive and criticizing remarks -- later on in life, when "glass was removed" kept sabotaging ourselves, as if not daring to go against those limiting expectations from that authority within? You know which ones I mean : "No, you can't.../ you should never.../ how could you...?/ you should be ashamed of yourself...", and alike.
Just another aspect of the hypnotic spell cast upon our young impressionable minds, or should I say hearts. Up to an approximate age of six or seven -- depending on which developmental psychologist you are listening to -- our brains are constantly producing predominantly theta brainwaves, which are present in hypnosis, while enabling us to sponge in as much as possible of useful information.
But, needless to say, our brains are way too young as to discriminate between what is "useful" for our development, and what is something that I am tempted to call "hypnotic garbage".
So, when "they" told you that "you just can't do anything right" -- it stuck in there for years, or decades to come. Like that pike from the above experiment, we may see opportunities, but don't feel free to do anything about them.
We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.
-- Stacia Tauscher
How to Break That Imaginary Chain?
In this last example to be mentioned with similar effects, a young elephant is tied by chain to a strong pole, which later on in his adulthood gets replaced by a weak rope tied to an ordinary stick.
But, conditioned to being unable to move away from "something that he is tied to", the huge and powerful animal doesn't register the difference between a chain and a rope, or a pole and a stick. He associates one with another and that's enough to make him stay put.
What associations with those memories of childhood are making us "stay put" while we would rather go and "conquer the world"? What's keeping us from breaking loose and using the best of our potential? Is there a way to de-hypnotize ourselves from that inner phantom of authority and reclaim our personal sovereignty?
After reading all those self-help books, listening to all those positive affirmations, maybe even seeing a shrink -- that liberation seems like an unattainable goal. Many of us have given up, taking it as a given that we can do nothing about. Or we just learned to maneuver through life challenges with lower standards and expectations, never "biting more than we could mentally chew".
Childhood trauma does not come in one single package.
-- Asa Don Brown
Remember The Beatles' Song "All You Need Is Love"?
The crux of the issue never gets really addressed---and it's all about an emotional starvation for love. Over all those young years we got conditioned to accept as true that criticism from back there in time, unconsciously cursing ourselves for being "obviously so bad" that we didn't deserve love of those on whom our very survival depended.
That inner beating on ourselves stayed on with us like a shadow that we could not shake off. Then, in an attempt to do something about it, if we ever got to that stage of wanting to -- we relied on someone on the outside to give us something that we had been depriving ourselves of. Many may cash-in during that process, while we are bound to drift from one promising vitamin to another, from one therapeutic modality to the next.
The solution, however, is at the same place where the very issue started---in our unwillingness to replace all that inner self-tormenting with love. Not the one of a narcissistic, egocentric kind, but that gentle, appreciative, respectful, accepting, and tolerant self-love.
The kind of love that our very cells are thriving on while providing the spark of life in us. What others give you, it can always be taken away from you, so you need to give yourself that love, not depending on anyone else.
Every day in a 100 small ways our children ask: "Do you hear me?... Do you see me?...Do I matter?" - Their behavior often reflects our response.
-- L.R. Knost
A Little Word of Caution
Beware of some other, not really wanted emotions that may well up as a side effect of that new love for yourself. Namely, now that you have embraced that child in yourself, you may go over-protective and start resenting everyone and anyone in your present life that associatively reminds you of your childhood primary caregivers, those authorities who made you create an inadequate self-image.
Could it be your boss with his remarks about your efficiency? Is it your spouse that's giving you a pitiful smile every time you do something in a clumsy way? Or maybe some of those friends that can't stop patronizing you and "teaching " you stuff?
Indeed, for a while, it may seem like the whole world has been conspiring against you, once that you start feeling good about yourself and see them as being non-supportive with your new self-image.
Don't take that emotional road. You see, once when that love starts being the name of the game, that's all the protection your inner child may need. You don't need any "closure" for injustices done to you, just your own love. Not your doctor's, your shrink's, your guru's. Not even your family's, as they will all start loving you so much more when you love yourself.
The trouble with over-structuring is that it discourages exploration.
-- Jay Gledd
Beyond "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall"
So, how do you go about loving yourself more? There are two simple tricks that will increasingly feel very convincing to your heart. For the first one you will need your bathroom mirror. Why bathroom? Because you'll need to be alone while doing it. Besides, bathroom is that most private place in the house, as if reserved for something intimately secret.
Now, standing at a comfortable distance from that mirror, slowly repeat to your image "I love you". Do it whispering, so to make sure that no one else can hear it. You need to know what to expect, and you can be sure that at first it's going to sound very untrue.
It's natural, because that authority in you will reject the idea of your loving "that undeserving, no good creature" in the mirror. But that's the very reason why you have to persist. Do it preferably in the morning upon arising, and at bed time, coinciding with your bathroom routines. Do it every day, it doesn't take any effort. See how life gradually changes for better, just because of those short intimate moments of your expressing love to yourself.
The experience of expressing love and appreciation to yourself may be more pivotal than you can imagine. Namely, what your conscious mind may see as a "silly routine", your subconscious mind may interpret as a balsam to some old hurts that are dominating in your emotional repertoire.
I am done looking for love where it doesn't exist. I am done coughing up dust in attempts to drink from dry wells.
-- Maggie Young
Making Deliberate Mistakes
With the second trick, you will be making some small deliberate mistakes at home and delay fixing them---something like dropping a pen on the floor and not picking it up for a while, that sort of things.
Be creative, think of anything that you would "normally" correct immediately---and don't do it. Of course, it will be so much easier if there is a time during your day when you can be alone. It has to be something that others will not notice, only you, because if they bring it to your attention, you'll have to explain why you are doing it---or risk getting another of those pitiful smiles for your "clumsiness".
If at no other time, do it in the bathroom, drop your robe on the floor as soon as you step in and let it stay there while you are taking your bath. Well, think of something, it's even supposed to be a fun.
So, what gets to be accomplished by doing it? That voice of authority in you will scream its lungs out observing your deliberate mistakes---and you will be nonchalantly ignoring it. That little act may have an enormous therapeutic effect, as you are awakening new decision-maker in the hierarchy of your mental forces--- your free conscious choice.
Acts like that strengthen your awareness of what you "want", not what you "have to". They might as well overlap, but the feeling behind it will be totally different. Your deliberate mistakes will make sure that the authority in you shuts up as "no one is listening", and a brand new sense of freedom will be born.
Freedom, my friends, is one of the most divine and enlightening feelings that we could possibly experience. Coupled with a sensible intent, that feeling can take us places where we never dared to go before, while we carried around our inner authority, our tormentor.
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© 2016 Val Karas
Val Karas (author) from Canada on May 28, 2016:
Larry - You comment is much appreciated.
Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on May 28, 2016:
Val Karas (author) from Canada on April 24, 2016:
MsDora - While you say about finding in my hub an encouragement to move forward, the same goes true in opposite direction, as comments like this give me an incentive to keep sharing those thoughts that others might find useful. - Thank you MsDora, and have yourself a fabulous rest of this weekend.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on April 24, 2016:
Great presentation about forgetting past myths. You encourage us to move forward, forgiving and loving ourselves. We deal with ourselves and others much better.
Val Karas (author) from Canada on April 23, 2016:
Dr. Billy Kidd - I am flattered and honored by your comment, and thank you kindly for spending time to read my hub. Happy hubbing! - Val
Val Karas (author) from Canada on April 23, 2016:
Lela - Those years must have been filled with quite an intense focus, and yet, perfection was out of the picture. Being perfect would mean having a very lonely life, and accepting our imperfect totality is not only wise but also necessary to preserve our sanity.
Dr Billy Kidd from Sydney, Australia on April 23, 2016:
Brilliant! Great exercises. Genius, in fact.
Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on April 23, 2016:
I started doing your 'tricks' in my 20s. And let me tell you how hard it is to do those things when you are an anally retentive person and a perfectionist such as myself.
I remember telling you that I was a blood banker. We were required to be 100% correct, 100% of the time because one tiny mistake could kill one of our patients.
Well, when I was teaching new hires in blood bank at our hospital, I would always tell them, that yes, we do need to be 100% correct, 100% of the time, but after a couple of our patients die anyway, you learn to relax.
Obviously, no one can be 100% correct, 100% of the time. Mistakes will be made! And corrections must be done, but they don't have to be done immediately. After all, the patient is probably dead and isn't going anywhere.
The best way to learn how to live or love is to do it wrong. You can't learn anything new from being perfect.
I may not be perfect, but I am as close as one can get!
Enjoy life, you only get one chance at it. (as far as we know). LOL
Elayne from Rocky Mountains on April 23, 2016:
Your article was very helpful to me as I tend to remember for a long time those things that cripple me. Now that I am in my retirement, I need to get rid of those feelings completely and enjoy life to its fullest. Thank you.
Reynold Jay from Saginaw, Michigan on April 23, 2016:
Your experiments make it clear what is happening to many of us. Well done. I must admit that I am somewhat a victim of this, but much less so than most. A great learning lesson for this reader.
Val Karas (author) from Canada on April 23, 2016:
Paula - Good parenting seems to be such a rare skill, judging by the state of the world that doesn't display much of love and compassion. You are right, early conditioning in life makes the crucial difference in the lives of so many who don't have that spiritual muscle to yank themselves out of its spell.
Suzie from Carson City on April 23, 2016:
Val.....So much wisdom & reality in your words today. Conditioning is responsible for most of our hardships & unhappiness that could have been avoided if we only come to the point of realization that we must break through, tear down the walls that hold us back and learn to be who we KNOW we can be.
It takes time & experience and most of all, becoming an independent thinker, using common sense and self-love.
Thanks, Val. Your work always offers your readers good reason to "wake up.".....Paula