Have you ever stopped to consider how your childhood experiences directly affect your behaviour and personality in your adult life?
I’m here to show you how your childhood is potentially sabotaging your success.
Researchers have repeatedly demonstrated that early life experiences are highly important in the development of the brain and contrary to common beliefs we don’t fully inherit our personality, but instead we develop certain traits because of the experiences we have as we move through in life.
Adulthood is an extension of our childhood experiences.
When we are born into this world, we are physical beings with no developed sense of the self. We only begin to develop our core self-identity as we interact with their parents or guardians growing up which can be the beginning of a very healthy self-concept where we progress through to adulthood with a positive self-identity or in contrast our upbringing can be the beginning of a very UNHEALTHY self-concept which can results in a negative self-identity where the consequences can be far more severe.
Traumatic or stressful experiences in childhood, anything from abandonment or violence, can have a lasting impact on your capacity to pay attention, learn and relate to others but worse still these adverse childhood experiences can unknowingly lead to crime, drug addiction, self-destructive behaviour and chronic illness. As children, our brains are extremely malleable and psychologically traumatic events like these change the physical structure of the brain.
Today neuroscientists are seeking to break down, on a biochemical level, exactly how traumatic experiences during childhood and adolescence catches up with us when we are adults, altering our bodies, our cells, and even our DNA. Similarly, psychologists, psychiatrists and therapists seek to understand problems such as anger, addiction and even criminal activity through the lens of the past.
However, whilst science is focused on these outliers who have had very harsh and deeply traumatic experiences, what about the rest of us?
Did we escape the problem…?
I think you already know that the answer to that!
As children, we have very few reference points to make sense of the world so even the simplest and seemingly innocuous occurrence can have a deeply profound impact upon us as the result of the meaning that we associate to any given event.
Something as simple as your mother leaving you in the shopping aisle in your pram whilst she pops around the corner to pick up a box of cereal can lead to feelings of abandonment which COULD cause all kinds of issues in later life from this simple incident – extreme, but very possible.
I’ve worked with clients who can easily pinpoint very specific moments where their beliefs about the world were formed.
What about all the other day to day that could mess us up? How about being told to be quiet, being told to wait in the car, observing a sibling supposedly receiving favourable treatment compared to yourself? Our child mind didn’t have enough reference points to make sense of these events and it leads to us forming beliefs that shape and guide our life both positively and negatively.
What impact do our parents have upon us?
If one off events like these can have a lasting impact, what about our more general experience of growing up with (or without) our parents?
For example, if a child was raised by an over protective family then he or she may develop fears and insecurities which may result in a belief that the world is unsafe. As a result, when the child becomes an adult he or she will be more prone to having these fears and insecurities but display them in a different way creating huge inner conflicts and emotional suffering.
Having a ‘pushy parent’ can result in a child who believes that he/she must perform or do something really well to be accepted by because of a belief that their parents love is conditional on what they do. In adulthood, this could lead to a belief system which says “I am lovable not for who I am, but for what I do” which leads to a deep need for external validation and the fear of not being good enough. People who experience this often struggle with perfectionism, or deeply self-critical behaviour in the pursuit of trying to reach the highest possible bar.
Accordingly, the beliefs that we form about ourselves and the world from an early age can create resistance to the smooth unfolding of your adult life. This resistance can take the form of fears, doubts and self-limiting thought patterns which in many cases can cause a lot of internal conflict and even suffering within.
Those who have faced the more traumatic circumstances often resort to escapist methods as soon as they are faced with fears that come up during adulthood – they try to escape the fears by drowning themselves in distraction based behaviour like drugs, alcohol, spiritual escapism and in worse cases self-harm or even attempted suicide.
Time does not ‘heal’ it ‘conceals’ – as we have seen our emotional experiences within childhood can translate directly into our behaviour and our personality during adult life. Even in the less traumatic cases we tend to avoid our inner fears and blame external circumstances, therefore in both situations this ‘escape mode’ mentality never gets to the root of the problem.
This is not about blame. This is about taking responsibility.
So, what can we do about it?
Having interviewed countless highly successful entrepreneurs and leaders I have begun to really see how their childhood experiences have played a significant part in shaping their beliefs about the world and what is possible for them, both positively and negatively.
How have these individuals channelled their childhood experiences, whether positive or negative, to drive them forward to success?
Firstly, our childhood may shape our journey into adult life, but it does not have to shape our destiny. It is the decisions that we make in this moment in which our destiny is CREATED.
When you finally decide to confront your fears and consciously create your beliefs about the world and about yourself then you take the power back and in doing so it becomes possible to literally re-wire your brain for success.
It is recognised by science that when we deliberately form new beliefs about ourselves and consistently act upon these new beliefs, we create new neurons in our brains which connect to literally rewire our brain. These new connections promote new patterns of thoughts which effectively bring under connected areas of our brain back online. In doing this we are rewiring our brain to create new opportunities for ourselves.
How the heck do I rewire my brain?!
Let me assure you be saying that you can find ways to start right where you are, no matter how deep your emotional scars or how long ago they occurred.
The first step is to choose to no longer suppress the fear and instead take steps to become fully aware of it.
Our ability to tune into our body provides a greater understanding of what is currently happening both at the conscious and subconscious level and it is within the moments of quiet reflection and meditation that the discomfort of fear can be felt physically in the body.
Meditation not only helps you to calm your thoughts and increase your emotional and physical wellbeing, but research has now shown that it has the potential to reverse, on a biological level, some of the emotional trauma from childhood that has caused us to sabotage our success! Recent studies indicate that individuals who regularly practice meditation show an increase in neural activity within the associated parts of the brain that manage stress, and even a shift within the genes that regulate your bodies stress response and levels of inflammatory hormones.
Who would have thought sitting still and going within one’s self could be so powerful!!
We are probably all familiar with the feelings we get in our stomach before doing something that we are nervous about or the tightness that is felt in the throat when you are sad? You can use meditation to identify within yourself how you are experiencing fear and what beliefs are holding you back.
Ask your subconscious mind to now shine light upon your fear…
- What are you afraid of?
- What do you need to let go of?
- What do you see and feel when you go within?
Once you have created awareness, change becomes possible.
What new possibilities will you CHOOSE to create now?
Remember, you are UNSTOPPABLE!
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