Our Core: Beliefs About Ourselves and Others Direct Our Happiness
Our core is made up of the beliefs we have about ourselves and others and these beliefs direct our happiness. Some of our beliefs formed before we have knowledge and understanding. They are the feelings and thoughts we got from how our parents and caregivers talked to us, what they said to us, and how they treated us. These folks were often unaware they were shaping our beliefs and we were unaware our beliefs were developing. But, once we develop intellect and gain understanding and knowledge, we create our own beliefs based on how we interpret information from others and how we reason information we’ve acquired on our own. Therefore, we develop subconscious and conscious beliefs.
When we are conceived, our soul energizes to life. We are little energy sources that emit and elicit love and joy. With that same unawareness, we can also frustrate, anger, and exhaust people. Think about the way infants unconsciously generate unconditional love in others, yet cause stress and exhaustion.
We never outgrow the subconscious abilities to generate love, hate, anger, and joy. And, after our conscious mind develops, our abilities double. We can then subconsciously and/or consciously generate certain emotions and behaviors in others. In other words, we can unintentionally or intentionally make someone mad, sad, guilty, ashamed, or glad. We are very powerful.
Most of us have intentionally caused someone to have bad feelings. It’s not something we want to admit, but many of us have fallen, like the infamous “fallen angel,” into the pit of vengeance, retaliation, and pride, where we tried to make other people feel guilty, ashamed, sad, afraid, or angry. We do this when we are feeling worse than the person we are trying to make unhappy. If the person we are trying to infect knows how to be truly happy, he will be immune to the attack and you will be left alone in your own misery.
Also, most of us have intentionally tried to make other people happy. Celebrating birthdays, giving a cheery hello, complimenting someone, and doing a good deed for someone are just a few examples. We do this when we feel happier than the other person and want the person to be happy. Much to our dismay, our efforts to make other people happy result in short term pleasure or are futile. Unless we know how to be truly happy, the person’s failure to maintain happiness will make us feel like a failure. We will be miserable.
We connect with each other through emotions, so we are wired to pick up other people’s emotions. Bad feelings, like bad health, are contagious. Like an infectious disease, we can infect other people with our bad feelings or become easily infected by others. We pick up their “bad vibes.” Then, our alert system (natural instincts) warns us of aggression and hostility and we go into protect mode, using our survival emotions of fear, anger, contempt, shame, and guilt.
Conversely, good health is not contagious. We must make conscious efforts to maintain good health. And like good health, good feelings happen through conscious thoughts, discipline, and self-determination.
Our conscious thoughts come from our conscious mind or thinking brain. This is the executive functioning part of our mind. It controls impulses, problem solves, organizes our thoughts, and assesses potential outcomes. Located in the front part of our heads, it could be that God put it there as a way to tell us to think first. When we think first and let our feelings follow, we make sounder decisions and have fewer regrets. Conscious thinking or conscious awareness keeps us safer, healthier, and happier.
When We Lack Conscious Awareness
A lack of conscious awareness causes us to lack honesty, empathy, accountability, respect, trust, and discipline. This leads to us having emotionally based attitudes and behaviors that result in negative beliefs. Some of these attitudes and behaviors include: the need to be right, being a control freak, keeping score with others, and the desire to get back at people.
People who are perfectionists, anxious, insecure, can’t handle being told, “No,” and who assume they know what’s best for others are also included. All of these lead to frustration, distress, and exhaustion for everyone involved. So, why do we do these things, especially when all we want is to be happy?
While our genetics predispose us to certain tendencies, mostly, we do these things because of what we feel and think. Despite the fact that perfectionists and control freaks know they cause stress and frustration, they continue their behaviors. It’s not because they want to be unhappy or make other people unhappy. It’s because they’re trying to make other people happy so they can be happy too.
When I ask clients why they need to be perfect, their typical response is, “I don’t know. I just do.” or “I feel like I have to.” They fortify their feelings with thoughts such as, “I’m not good enough unless I’m perfect.”
They have no logical explanation for their need to be perfect and admit it is based on how they feel about themselves plus reinforced by their thoughts. This is also true for the other behaviors I mentioned. We know these behaviors do not create happiness, yet we do them based on our feelings and thoughts – on what we believe.
Knowledge, Emotions, and Beliefs
We all have knowledge, emotions, and beliefs. They differ, but are interdependent and necessary for us to live well, connect with others, and be happy. When we are young children, we have more emotions than beliefs and more beliefs than knowledge.
Knowledge is acquired externally. It is understanding and awareness; familiarity gained by experience of a situation, and is factual. Knowledge is information we gather, process, and store in our conscious and subconscious minds.
Emotions, as defined by the English Oxford Dictionary (online), are strong feelings derived from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others; are instinctive or intuitive feelings as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge. Emotions are inherent.
Beliefs are a combination of thoughts and emotions we create, integrate, and store in our subconscious mind, and refer to with our conscious mind. They are something we accept as true or real despite having no proof; they are visceral.
We create beliefs internally. Since we start out having more beliefs than knowledge, our beliefs make up our core – who and what we are and that becomes our guidance system to happiness.
Basic Beliefs Are Good or Bad
Parents and adults provide children with information and teach them life lessons that add to their knowledge and shape their beliefs. Children have a natural desire to learn. So, even if their parents don’t directly teach them, they’ll just pick up information. This is done consciously and subconsciously by listening to parents’ or caregivers’ talk and by watching their behaviors.
Since young children have more emotions than knowledge, they base their beliefs on how they feel. Their inexperience in life limits their feelings and knowledge to good, bad, happy, and sad. Therefore, children’s basic beliefs about themselves will be they are good or bad.
Children get the sense of being good or bad from how the parents present information to them. If parents give their children good information, the children will believe they are good. This information can be praise, demonstration of love and affection, meeting children’s emotional needs, or speaking in words the children understand. When parents give their children bad information, the children will feel bad and believe they are bad. This kind of information can be harsh yelling, name calling, ignoring the children’s emotional and physical needs, abuse, neglect, or domestic violence.
If parents give children information they don’t understand, children will create beliefs about themselves based on how they feel and the knowledge we have at the time. For example, if a parent uses a word his young child doesn’t understand, the child will interpret its meaning based on the parent’s tone, facial expression, and body language. She will create her belief on what she knows, thinks, and feels at the time, namely the belief she is good or bad.
Belief of Being Valuable
Children believe they are valuable when they are valued by their parents. Any behavior that devalues children, especially abuse and neglect, causes children to create bad beliefs about themselves, like not being good enough or not being worthy of love and attention. These beliefs pave the way to further abuse by significant others or spouses.
Additional behaviors that devalue children are parents’ increasing lack of attention to their children because of greater attention given to someone or something else, including electronic devices. Imagine the feelings and thoughts you might get when, as a child, you are sitting at the table eating with your mom and dad, who stay engrossed in their cell phones, and their only communication to you is, “Sit up and eat right!” “Stop playing with your food!” or “Don’t spill your water!”
As children develop higher levels of intellect, they continue to develop beliefs about themselves based on the information they get not only from parents, but from other adults and their peers. If they already have bad beliefs about themselves, it is easy for them to add more bad information to them. This can lead to issues with self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.
How We Develop Beliefs About Other People, Society, and God
Parents teach children superstitions and beliefs about other people, the government, and God a couple different ways. They can overtly talk to their children about them or covertly teach them by talking where they can over hear. Children also learn by watching how their parents behave in regard to these topics. Parents who practice a strong faith teach their children beliefs associated with faith. Worshiping together, showing trust, and doing good community work are examples that teach children to believe in goodness.
In addition, children’s innocence, dependence, and natural desire to learn make them impressionable and susceptible. So, they will naturally adopt their parents’ beliefs. Their beliefs are what they believe about the world until they mature into independent thinkers and use their reasoning skills to assess and challenge the credibility of those beliefs. Then, they can choose their own beliefs. They can keep, modify, or change the beliefs they’ve been taught.
We Are Reluctant to Give Up Our Beliefs
The beliefs we have about the world are easier to change than the beliefs we have about ourselves. Beliefs about anything other than ourselves are external, meaning we bring them in from the outside. The beliefs we have about ourselves are internal, meaning we pour them out from the inside. They are based within us.
Even though our original feelings and thoughts come from other people’s words and behaviors, we use our own emotions and thoughts to create beliefs about ourselves. This gives us complete ownership of them. Our beliefs belong to us. Since we don’t like to lose what belongs to us, we have a difficult time giving them up.
The powerful subconscious mind takes in our thoughts and feelings and incorporates them into our being. It codes them to be the way we exist – to what we believe and that becomes our truth and reality. It is our core.
Look closer at your core. What beliefs did you get from your parents and other people? How easily do you catch other people’s negative emotions? Do you tend to fall into the pit of vengeance, retaliation, and pride too often? How do your beliefs affect other people? What beliefs do you have that interfere with your happiness? What beliefs do you have that encourage happiness?
Stay tuned to learn more about core beliefs and how to change the ones that interfere with your happiness. Use the Essentials to help you along.