Theorists allude to the fact that each person comes into the world with no thoughts or ideas at all. Everything that a person thinks and feels is learned. The Scottish philosopher David Hume was the first to propose the idea of the tabula rasa (blank slate).
From my own research beliefs are powerful entities, yet they are assumed truths. Beliefs anchor our understanding of the world and are the building blocks of one’s life. They form a foundation they are built into the language and the culture of a people.
Covey 2004, believes that each of us have mental maps in our head. He states,
We interpret everything we experience through these mental maps. We seldom question their accuracy; we usually are even unaware that we have them. We simply assume that the way we see things is the way they really are or the way they should be. p.24.
This is a crucial, yet pivotal learning. If people interpret their life experiences through their mental maps, then the primary care givers of children should intentionally enrich a child’s environment with positive, nurturing and enriching experiences.
Here is a fact: Children are not born with beliefs, either empowering or disempowering. From the day they were born- their environment, parents, broader family, teachers, friends, society and television-all these play a significant part in who they become and what they believe. If one is raised in an environment of limiting beliefs this will influence how they interact in the world and the lens through which they will see it, and the actions that will inform their behaviors. If they are raised in an enriched and empowering environment then that too, will influence the lens through which they view the world. Thoughts and beliefs are what drive ones’ behavior. It functions like software and becomes a part of one’s programming. You cannot move beyond them, whether those beliefs are empowering or limiting unless there is intentional effort.
Here is another fact: All beliefs are learned. As a general rule a person acts in accordance with their beliefs. When one acts in concert with their beliefs then one feels so comfortable with them. There is no dissonance. However, when, a person doesn’t, or even when they act or think counter to them, they feel extremely uncomfortable. If someone else contradicts your belief, or in some way contravenes one of their ‘internally chiseled’ self -beliefs, it is rejected or reacted to in a negative manner.
Parents, grandparents and teachers of young children are key in the development of the self-image of the young. A child enters the world without any self-limiting beliefs. They embrace their new (fertile) environment without fears of rejection. No baby is born with thoughts of, “I am not good enough,” or “I am not loveable,” neither do they harbor thoughts of, “I don’t matter” or “I will never succeed.” These beliefs are all installed in children in early childhood. The expectations and behaviors of parents and teachers can profoundly shape a child’s beliefs. The effects of self-defeating beliefs are long lasting. Many times these beliefs are carried over into adulthood. Un-suspecting, well-meaning adults don’t really understand how these beliefs impact the child’s mind and subsequently their behavior. It is only as persons grow and mature, as they become aware of their limiting stance to life events, that the idea of self-limiting beliefs comes into play; or the freeing and empowering beliefs that have impacted their positive behavior. Many times the perceived truth goes right back to the inner voice that has been rehearsed over and over until it is believed. Thus a belief has been conceived.
Tracy (2003) says
your self-talk, your inner dialogue determines 95 percent of your emotions. When you talk to yourself, your subconscious mind accepts these words as commands. It then adjusts your behavior, your self image, and your body language to fit a pattern consistent with these words. (p.12)
How important then, is it to be sure a child’s self talk is positive. In reality many adults are unaware of these essential concepts.