We are programmed and groomed since childhood to believe things that are not really true or are inherently false. Our parents, caregivers, and the school system work at creating obedient and pliable humans who will not rock the boat. It is convenient for the adults to have the next generation accept their faulty belief system. However, if we are to truly grow emotionally and spiritually we need to stop accepting many of these lies as the gospel truth.
Now with more experience and wisdom, I realize that my childhood indoctrination was the reason for keeping me stuck and adding to my mental health challenges.
Listed below in no particular order are some untruths I was induced to believe:
1) Family means love, care, and support
Not true for most of us who suffer from C-PTSD. In fact, family is the cause of our mental health struggles. Abuse, neglect, manipulation, bullying, invalidation rip into our sense of self and destroy us.
Getting as far away from our dysfunctional families is the only way we can heal and live happy, productive lives.
2) Older means wiser
Looking back I see most of the adults of the childhood landscape as immature children in adult bodies. And they used the power over me a little helpless bereaved child to manipulate me to do their bidding for their convenience.
In retrospect, they themselves were clueless monkeys following the older monkeys who were even more stupid. They offered no life skills or wisdom to navigate the challenges of adult life.
3) Religious means godly
I was raised in a religious Catholic family and went to a convent school. There was no love or godliness in their behavior or actions of those who professed to follow Jesus.
In fact, the more outwardly pious one was the more crooked they were. One has to only see the history of sexual abuse by the evil Catholic church.
4) That evil is the devil with horns
I grew up listening to stories of God and the devil. In my child’s mind, I believed that evil is something that is dark with horns. But that is so not true, We need to be aware of human evil, it can come in many shapes and forms. It is usually disguised behind the screen of goodness.
Scot Peck in his book the People of the Lie has this to say about evil, “Evil appears to be most ordinary. They live down the street..on any street. They may be rich or poor, educated or uneducated. There is little that is dramatic about them. They are not designated, criminals. More often than not they will be “solid citizens”-Sunday school teachers, policemen, or bankers, and active in the PTA.”
5) The expert always knows best, don’t trust your intuition
We are taught not to question the expert, particularly when it comes to the medical experts. Just because someone has spent years studying a subject does not mean they always know what is best.
When it comes to your mind and body you are the best judge. I am so glad I did opt for scoliosis surgery, it would have been a terrible decision to take in my case. Also, not taking drugs for depression despite being prescribed was the right thing to do.
6) Someone with more money, fame, or status they are superior beings
Post my mother’s death one of my mother’s brothers who was financially well off, would make fun of my clothes. He’d say, What a dirty dress you are wearing?
Though, in my child’s mind, I knew I had no choice since I had to make do with what I had. Nonetheless, slowly, I internalized that I was poor and defective. It colored all my adult relationships making me feel ‘not good enough.’
It is only now since having some money, I’ve realized that a person is in no way better or superior having more money or having a better house or a high-paying job. In fact, belittling another human just because they don’t have worldly goods or success is simply crappy behavior.
7) Nice means good or trustworthy
Superficial charm is one of the visible behaviors of abusers. They may appear kind, charming, funny, and honest but they usually have an agenda.
My nice funny uncle was a lustful creep. Now, I am super alert when someone is being super nice.
8) You have no rights
After my mother died my father would constantly lampoon us saying he was doing so much for us. His crumbs of benevolence were something we have to be grateful for.
Because of this inculcation, I spent years thinking that I had no rights as a child and later as an adult human being, which is so untrue. We all have rights as children and adults to be treated with love, dignity, and fairness in our relationships. If that is not the case, better to drop the person and move on.
9) Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth
I really took this Beatitude literally. That if one is meek and human we will be blessed by God both spiritually and materially.
Sorry, in the real world being meek and humble only makes people walk over you. And you become a bitter and resentful person.
You have to be assertive and stand up for yourself. Taking the advice of the Bible word for word is so damaging and detrimental to really living up to our true potential. There are too many contradictions.
10) Women are supposed to subservient, compliant, and be of service
Growing up in a patriarchal family you automatically imbibe the belief that you are inferior to men. And because you are a girl, it is your job to take care of the home.
I accepted that it was my job to keep the house clean after my mother died without expecting my brother to chip in.
11) Your behavior and clothes were the reason for your sexual abuse
Yes, a majority of us women have been shamed and blamed for our sexual abuse. We are held responsible for enticing the men even though we were still kids. In my case, my grandmother and aunt did not denounce the vile predators lurking in the family unit.
Furthermore, instead of being taught how to protect ourselves from predators, we were shamed into believing that we were responsible for the wicked and ugly behavior. It has taken a lot of work to heal this deeply ingrained belief that ‘I was the wicked slut.’
12) It is weak to show emotions and cry
I thought repressing my emotions was a good thing. It showed how strong I was.
How wrong I was. Suppressing emotions are bad for our mental and physical health. I am convinced that repressing my emotion is what caused my scoliosis.
13) We need to forgive and forget
I learned the hard way that forgiving and forgetting only makes an abuser keep repeating bad behavior. I naively believed that by forgiving and not resisting evil I would go to heaven.
Forget the afterlife, my earthly life was living hell. Repeatedly forgiving damaged my mental health. For the moment I leave forgiveness out of my healing plan.
14) We have to put other people first, not say ‘No’ or have boundaries
Growing up we were told it was Christ-like to give priority to other people’s feelings and needs. We were constantly admonished for being selfish.
What happened is I grew up thinking that my feelings and needs don’t matter. That, I had to please to be liked and accepted. And so a codependent was born, totally repressing my own needs to satisfy and please others.
15) Accept and tolerate people for who they are
We are trained by the adults in our life to tolerate and accept people despite their atrocious behavior. Just because they happen to be uncle, grandmother, mother, father, priest, etc we have to turn a blind eye. We are forced to acquiesce and accommodate their nonsense.
Inevitably, we get trained to comply with the stupid reason just the way he is or so typical of her. Tolerating and accepting bad behavior that diminishes you as a person slowly destroys you. You shouldn’t be a part of anyone’s toxic emotional landscape.
16) You have to explain and give reasons
Many of us grew up with parents who were dominating and intrusive. As kids, we have to account for every little action. We are badgered and made to doubt our choices by the question – Why? Thus we grow up feeling we owe an explanation to just about everyone even when not asked. We are petrified of saying, No or stating our truth for fear of being asked the dreaded question, Why?
Invariably, when you eliminate over-explaining, initially you will feel guilt and fear but in the long run, it will save you a lot of mental energy. Some decisions and choices are no one’s business, people need to respect you if they want to be in your life.
17) You cannot fail or make a mistake
Growing up with a highly narcissistic father I had to do everything perfectly. Even if I cut an onion differently he would attack and deride me as being stupid. As an 11-year-old, I had to be ever vigilant to never do anything wrong. Mistakes were severely dealt with – a rageful tirade or a physical blow was the response. It made me very anxious and hypervigilant.
Mistakes are a part of life, particularly when we are little., they help us learn and make better choices.
18) You don’t have the right to make choices
Growing up in an environment where we are not allowed to make choices is so damaging. Just because you are a child have to blindly do what the adults say you have to do robs us of our self-efficacy and drive, It destroys our self-confidence on how to tackle life’s challenges. Not surprisingly, we feel paralyzed as adults when we have to make tough choices.
Slowly working through the anxiety of making decisions whether right or wrong is a long road to self-authenticity.
.19) What will people think- living up to other people’s expectations
For most of our childhood, we are ingrained to think about what people will think. That they will laugh at us, think badly of us, or we will be ostracized from the tribe because we don’t fall in line with the beliefs and norms in the society we live in.
The truth is as adults we really don’t need the validation of all and sundry. Furthermore, people who value us will love us despite being different. True liberation is not giving a f**k what people think of us. I have my path they have theirs.
Healing The Disdisenfranchised Child, Becoming an Empowered Adult
Becoming an authentic, empowered adult is a life-long process. Unequivocally, you have to shed the untruths and faulty beliefs of your childhood, Additionally, you have to learn the art of discernment and separate the wheat from the chaff.
However, you don’t need to totally reject our childhood inculcation. Weigh in on what works for you and what doesn’t. Be clear about your values as an adult. Moreover, being double-minded about your core beliefs will only make you indecisive and mentally unstable. You will be pulled and pushed by what you want and what you were taught to believe.
It is not easy to reject what was ingrained into you since you were a kid.
Nevertheless, to succeed you need to be focused and single-minded. Be bold and fearless. Don’t be a slave of other people’s validation or approval. It is a monumental task finding our own truth and learning what works for us.
Remember, healing and growth is the journey of finding your own truth, Be honest to yourself first. You don’t need outdated truths nor anyone’s approval to live your life.
Image Source: Pexels
Home Coming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child – John Bradshaw
Winning the War in Your Mind: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life – Craig Groeschel