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Nov 11

A Hole in Your Self | Part 2 – False Learning, Remediation and the Value of a Healing Therapy

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“How do we learn?” I recently asked myself. “By repetition”, I quickly answered myself. Information that gets repeated becomes hard-wired into our brain and mind. That is how we learn to talk, read, spell or do arithmetic. As Sesame Street grads, we learn to count by the numerical sequence being repeated over and over, by Big Bird or whomever.
Repetition accounts for how we learn about life, as much as it does for school book learning. The same ideas being repeated over and over ultimately form our beliefs. This clearly explains differing beliefs and behaviors across cultures, religions and geographic locations. Once formed our beliefs are very hard to change. Many are truly written in stone. Some are subject to modification. Thank goodness for that.
Some of our beliefs are subject to debate as they are clearly untrue. Even knowing that a strongly held belief is not true, doesn’t automatically change it. Our mind can ignore that information and stay with the original, “hardwired” belief, distorted as it might be. Distorted and exaggerated beliefs are the basis of emotional problems. Understanding that helps us to modify that.
We know from Part I that the primary hole in our self comes from our “inferior” position that is built into the developmental process. To that is added a host of experiences that dig our holes deeper. These experiences teach us about ourselves and others. Some of the beliefs we learn are accurate, others partially true and many are clearly unrealistic and inappropriate. In this sense therapy and counseling are a lot like tutoring. They provide more accurate interpretations for a host of misguided and exaggerated ideas.
Garbage In/Garbage In and Out

The quality of the information we absorb is critically important. The young and impressionable child doesn’t have the knowledge base, perspective or maturity to judge the accuracy of the information. Important tools are missing to be able to do that. S/he takes it all in without challenging its accuracy.
In countries near and far from ours, inaccurate information is taught about the United States of America. History itself is distorted. Accuracies are ignored and new versions are invented. The students in these countries believe these inaccuracies as if they were true. They have no basis to know that this dis/ misinformation does not jibe with reality.
The same is true in families. If a family repetitiously criticizes and calls a child names, (i.e., dumb, idiot, stupid, looser, moron, brat, liar, etc.) the child grows up with those ideas contaminating his/her self-esteem. Similarly, if a child grows up believing a distortion (I.e., I caused my parents divorce) that has an effect as well. That in reality, the child had nothing to do with the divorce, has nothing to do with the strongly held and hurtful belief. Parents make all kinds of statements that are inaccurate as well as being unaware of the associations and misinterpretations little minds make about confusing events
Imagine all of the possible confusions, distortions, misunderstandings, misinterpretations and misassociations that develop over the course of eighteen years. All of this invalid information gets mixed with hurtful experiences that make us feel woefully inadequate. It is this mass of repetitiously inaccurate, but powerful information that we are up against as adults. It is a wonder we function at all and amazing that all things considered, most do pretty well. Yet, taken together this mass digs our hole deep and wide and creates a negative force. This inner toxic waste dump pollutes our self-esteem independent of our positive qualities and successes. It also contaminates our choices in self-defeating and deflating ways.
Let’s return to the child taught in an anti-American country. Imagine that s/he comes to America as an adult. S/he approaches with much skepticism and distrust. That soon turns to confusion as strongly held beliefs are challenged by an undeniable reality. Little by little, many of these beliefs become diluted. A burning hatred for America and its people begins to smolder and eventually dissipate. Angers turn toward the teachers who misrepresented so much. Over time, the distorted information will be replaced by a more realistic perspective. New beliefs will sprout and grow stronger. Slowly, reality replaces fictional learnings.
Therapy, good therapy, is like going to America from a hostile foreign land. It challenges distortions, confusions and misunderstandings. It looks at who you are as a person relative to the brainwashing that created negative images that distort how you see yourself. It confronts glopfulness and teaches health,
balance and self-protection. Though it takes a while to update programming forged from repetitiously misleading teachings, it is doable in a reasonable timeframe. Yet, just as the person taught to hate America will resist coming here, so many people resist coming to therapy. The need for people to push past that resistance, confront the origins of their holes in their self and learn to heal and fill them healthfully is why I have written this series
Cognitive-behavioral therapy was created to correct beliefs that are confused, distorted or exaggerated. It aims to set your thinking straight so that your beliefs facilitate your comfortable and healthy behavior and accompanying feelings. It looks to rid you of anxiety, sadness and self-doubt. It wants your views founded on appropriate beliefs based in reality. It wants you to see your SELF and life in a more positive, user friendly way. It encourages a kinder, more compassionate view of you.
Realistically, we can’t predict beyond the moment. Tomorrow or even later today is not clear or certain. We assume certain basics, but as we saw on 9/11/01, that can be a leap of faith. Yet, most days go well. Some, personally and/or communally turn into a nightmare. Hopefully they are few and far between.
What beliefs are desirable and which are limiting and hurtful? Contrast the following list and see where you fit. Obviously, the beliefs on the right are generally healthier. They lead to greater comfort and confidence. They provide a path upon which you can walk away from anxiety and depression. They are the end result of emotional remediation and tutoring and filling your hole with healthy.
Hurtful Beliefs
The world is uncontrollable; dangerous
I must protect myself at all costs.
I am inferior, inadequate and worthless.
If I do X, bad things will happen.
Unless I do Y, bad things will happen.
Helpful beliefs
I am managing my life well.
I do my best to minimize risks.
I like me. I acknowledge my strengths, while working on my vulnerabilities.
Good & not so good are random, except when we put ourselves in harms way.
Good & not so good are random, except when we put ourselves in harms way.

I must feel in control to feel safe.
People are untrustable
Money is the answer to all problems.
I deserve to feel guilty because of XYZ
Control is an illusion except in terms of practicing healthy behaviors. Glop is hurtful, adds shame & blame & ultimately causes anxiety, which impedes our coping. I need to minimize or eliminate glop so that is not out of control. Otherwise I am safe.
Some people are untrustable. Others are very honorable. We need to try our best to figure out who’s who. It’s not always so easy to do that. I will err on the side of caution and let others earn my trust.
Money is helpful, but no cure-all for that which can hurt me.
I only deserve to feel guilty if I’ve really done something wrong or intentionally caused others to suffer or knowingly broken appropriate rules. Otherwise, I need to give up the undeserved guilt and assume I am as good as others. I also need to resolve the guilt I deserve to feel, heal and forgive myself. To err is human…
You are who you are. See yourself clearly. Appreciate your qualities. Work on that which can be modified. Accept the rest. It’s the only you, you have. Life is not a competitive event, unless you make it so.
I’m not smart, pretty, rich, strong…ENOUGH
Our goal as people helpers is to facilitate your moving from the left to the right side of your personalized belief chart. As teachers, coaches and counselors our mission is to free you from the burdens that your distorted and disturbing beliefs impose.
Dysfunction Begets Dysfunction
We take our personalized version of the school of hard knocks with us on our life journey. Stacked against us as the deck might seem, it can be an even more convoluted experience that freezes our beliefs into place. Our early distorted programming guides our adult behavior, often leading to experiences that powerfully reinforce our early distorted programming. We seem to have an uncanny knack of replicating our misery based on our distorted learnings. Here are some examples:

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