You may recall, from a previous blog posting, I am currently writing a semi-autobiographical book tentatively titled, “THE WISE OLD MAN & THE KID – A Guide to Living a Positive Life.” It’s all about sharing my life’s experiences, warts and all, giving readers (young adults and others) the opportunity to learn from my mistakes and to avoid making similar bad choices in their lives.
One of the premises of the book is the impact on our attitudes of our formative experiences from our early years of life. When I was young, I had dreams of being ‘someone’ – someone who, somehow, would make a difference and make my mark on the world in positive ways. However, my optimism, indeed certainty, about my future promise were already under challenge because of the circumstances of my upbringing – my formative experiences and an inherent ‘saboteur’ in my mind constantly finding reasons and experiences to confirm my lack of worth.
The perfect complement to my constant travelling companions – unworthiness and self-doubt - were the family, economic and social environments in which I grew up. These assisted in conditioning my mind into adopting attitudes, beliefs, standards and behavior designed to make me feel unworthy and undeserving of anything but second-best in all aspects of my life. However, I didn’t have a conscious awareness of this. All I was aware of was a growing lack of self-belief and self-confidence. This was my best-kept secret.
Here is a small extract from my book, where the old man, Davey, is talking to a fellow fisherman, 12 year-old Noah, about the subject:
“You know, Noah, I believe our experiences, especially those encountered in the early years of our lives, have a profound influence on the persons we turn out to be. These formative experiences, and how we choose to react to them, provide a gradually developing imprint in our minds of the person we think we are. And then we repeatedly make choices that confirm this evolving image of ourselves. Our choices lead to experiences and circumstances that seem to reaffirm and replicate this image.”
“I don’t think I get what you’re saying,” replied the kid.
“Let me put it this way. I believe we constantly look to our past perceptions of ourselves, based on our interpretations of what happened to us when we were growing up, to reinforce how we see ourselves now. More often than not, these self-images are unworthy of who we really are. We delude ourselves into accepting an image that falls well short of our true potential and capabilities.”
“So, you’re saying we all become the persons we think we are, based on how we were affected by things that happened to us when we were young?”
“Brilliantly put! You’re a smart kid, Noah,” replied the old man.
“This self-defeating process may continue for many years until, perhaps, we get wake-up calls from the Universe,” Davey continued. “Wake up calls that eventually we can’t ignore. Ones that stop us dead in our tracks and force us to take a long, hard look at who we think we’ve become. That’s certainly what happened to me.”
“What do you mean by ‘wake-up calls’?”
“In my experience, they’re traumatic events in our lives that cause us to take pause and re-evaluate our values and attitudes. If we’re willing to open up our minds a little when one of these events happens, instead of wallowing in victimhood, we can transform our lives. The wake-up calls then become turning points. Turning points that can de-program our hard-wired self-defeating attitudes – all the negative crap we’ve laid on ourselves through accepting the view of the saboteur in our minds, the ego, and our resultant wrong-minded interpretation of our formative experiences.”
I’m suggesting to readers there is another way of looking at the so-called set-backs, disadvantages, injustices etc. we encounter in our formative years. We have a choice to either be a victim of our circumstances, or see them as challenges to learn from and overcome.
I’d be interested to hear from others about how your formative experiences impacted your lives – either positively, or negatively.