Perception and Learning

The way we view ourselves and our world, and our past experiences and observations of others help to create both our healthy and unhealthy beliefs and behavior. Most of these learning experiences occurred in our childhood.
Because of our tendency, in infancy, to perceive the world as “self”, the infant and small child may identify herself as the cause of a negative experience rather than the recipient.
Inadequate care, abusive treatment, or traumatic experiences, then, are often perceived by the child to be a reflection of herself rather than an external experience. She may, then, accept the belief that she is, in fact, unlovable, worthless, or deficient in some way.
But we don’t have to have a traumatic childhood to create negative and problematic beliefs about our world and ourselves. It is really impossible to have an environment that will always give us what we need, when we need it. Therefore, misinterpretations, self-rejection, and limiting beliefs are created in all of us to some degree, despite the efforts and good intensions of our parents.
Problematic Perceptions
Our perception of “self” as unlovable, unworthy, or problematic reflects the “truths” we have accepted about ourselves. We, then, reject ourselves, or portions of ourselves, that we judge as bad, wrong, or unacceptable. These perceived parts must be retrieved, accepted, and even embraced before true healing can occur.
Similarly, we judge life as more or less safe, pleasant, pleasurable, or painful. Consequently, we act and react to life according to these perceptions with the result that our beliefs and behaviors are reinforced and patterns are formed.
Blocking Uncomfortable Inner Experiences
Much pathology is created through blocking uncomfortable inner experiences out of our awareness.
When emotions and thoughts are acknowledged and met without denial, resistance, or identification, they cycle in, change, and cycle out. Our pathology comes from stopping this natural cycle, thereby, freezing or blocking them in mid-cycle within our bodies and psyche.
As we carry these within us through life, they intensify and become the very lens through which we perceive and create our experience.
Our thoughts, emotions, and behavior are also conditioned by our life experiences. As behaviors are modeled, learned, and reinforced by parents, peers, and life events, we become conditioned to act and view our experience and ourselves in ways that can be problematic, self-defeating, and limiting. Consequently, we become caught in an ongoing cycle that reinforces these self-defeating patterns.
Relearning for Healing
Discovering the powerful effect that my childhood had upon me was a very freeing experience! I realized that the issues I had struggled with all my life made perfect sense given my family and life style models. I also realized that what I considered my pathology (or my problematic self) was not who I was as a person but what I had learned… and, if I could learn it, then I could unlearn it!
Our Experience Shapes Our Biology
In addition to being influenced by our perceptions and learned behaviors, we are also affected by our biology. Our biology, over time, tends to organize around our emotional and cognitive experiences and physical behavior. Habitual mental and emotional activity creates nerve to brain pathways and influences neurotransmitters, further locking us into our adopted behaviors and perceptions of self and life. However, if our biology can be influenced in ways that are problematic for us, it can also change in healthy ways as well.
Through altering beliefs, healing emotions, and changing behavior, our biology can also readjust in ways that support our mental, emotional, and physical health. Our biology affects us and we affect our biology.
Our Own Unique Healing Process
The healing process is unique to each person. When problematic life behaviors and beliefs are primarily habitual, some of us will be able to reach our desired goals through simple behavioral change and reinforcement. However, when our behavior is fueled by repressed emotions or negative beliefs, they will need to be brought into conscious awareness, acknowledged, and explored before lasting change can occur.
Hypnotherapy, Mindfulness, and Meditation
Hypnotherapy, mindfulness, and meditation can assist us in accessing the deeper and unconscious beliefs and emotions as well as discovering the ways in which they affect our lives and limit our potential. When this unconscious problematic material is met, explored, and experienced, it loses its power over us. As a result, we become much freer to develop into our highest and most authentic self, to create a life that reflects our hopes and our dreams, and to be a healing and healthy presence in our world.

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