Unwinding Childhood Conditioning: A Neuromuscular Journey Home

Uncategorized Jan 16, 2020

A lot of the patterns we run in our nervous system, things like - low self esteem, low self worth, inability to stay focused, inability to make wholesome decisions for ourselves, negative or undermining self talk, difficulty starting or completing projects, feelings of depression or low energy - to name a few, are patterns that developed in childhood.  They are patterns we developed in our biological family systems and early educational experiences we had in school, church and within our peer group(s).  And more often than not, they were formed with incomplete information.  

You may be wondering “What does she mean by incomplete information?” And if so, I want to ask you to stay with me for a moment as I explain what I mean. 

More often than not, any feelings of inadequacy developed as the result of some one else’s idea of what “such and such” should have looked it.   They are the result of one point of view; namely the person or people who installed or imprinted certain experiences within you that over time developed into the patterns that you are now living with.

As an example, let’s say, as my Mom did, one of your parents always said to you something like “Why are you so contrary?” whenever you approach the “doing” of something that differed from their prescribed way of how things should go.  Whether that was cleaning your room or doing a chore.  Whenever I considered another way to accomplish something, her approach was to lock everything down and to get me on the straight and narrow.  Her straight and narrow with a “my way or the highway” kind of attitude.

When I would point out that there were other options to consider, particularly the ones that saved time, she would have none of it.  Even when I pointed out a more thorough way to do what she wanted doing, I would either get physically adjusted or verbally adjusted and more often than not, both, along with her refrain “why are you so contrary?”.

By the time I was entering junior high school, even when I could see a better approach to something, I just stopped sharing it.  I began to think my thoughts were not valid and that I had nothing of value to offer.  This was the beginning of a really bad habit of feeding a low sense of self worth and a very destructive inner dialogue that kept my creative expression under wraps.

The thing is, my Mom just did not like change.  Her actions really had nothing to do with me. 

She liked to do things and think about things the way that she always had.  Even when faced with information that was counter to her beliefs, she would say something like “I get to believe what I want” and all of her actions mirrored what she believed.  When she was operating with “incomplete information” her actions were informed by that “incomplete information”. 

The thing is, as a child, I thought her actions had something to do with me. Hence, the destructive self talk and everything that arouse out of that negative self talk, namely living in a prison of low self esteem and low self worth.

Do you remember what happened when the new idea, the earth revolved around the sun, arrived as a correction to the popular view of things?

The Church believed the sun revolved around the earth and as a result, Galileo spent the last years of his life under house arrest for supporting the opposite view point. The same is true for us if we keep believing other peoples opinions about us.  Especially those opinions offered while we were children with impressionable and still growing neurological systems.  If we keep carrying those “incomplete opinions” around as truths - as an imprint, body armor and source of our sense of self - we are basically in the prison of the neurological & psychological programs those imprints created.

So returning to current time, your nervous system is running a bunch of programs that were developed by external influences, aka all the adults in our lives (family members, neighbors, teachers, preachers, strangers) that more often than not, were operating with incomplete information about the moment at hand. Incomplete because they did not consider you; your age, what was happening for you internally in that moment, the fact that you were still developing emotionally, mentally, and psychologically. 

These adults only included their experience; their view and understanding of the moment.  And because you were not factored into their understanding of the moment, any perspectives or assessments they made about you or your abilities, that you still believe today in some measure or degree, I am going to call a big fat lie.

That’s right.  Those perspectives or assessments they made about you as a growing child are BIG FAT LIES.

And here’s the thing with lies:  When a lie is told, it is none of your business, unless you are telling the lie.  

When you are told lies about yourself, especially in your impressionable years, lies such as “you’re not good enough”, “you never finish anything”, “you always get it wrong”, “you are clumsy”, they have a way of sticking.  And the thing is those lies are none of your business and every bit the business of the one telling them.  It’s thier opinion and they are responsible for how they saw, felt and experienced the moment.

Now those lies, those opinions become your business if and when you believe what they said.   That’s where your business comes in; it’s in the belief.  You either believe what they told you about your younger self or you don’t. Any words uttered out of someone else’s mouth was about them, not about you.  They choose to engage in the moment the way that they did.  They choose to see things as limited or final, instead of seeing the moment as a process of you learning how to do something or learning how to get to wherever you were trying to get to.

Part of unwinding early childhood experiences, family conditioning and this process of addressing legacy material, is making sure you did not buy into another persons internal story about the matter at hand.  

When you take the time to unwind, within your neuromuscular system, any destructive patterns you developed in your childhood, you employ a strong measure of self-responsibility and begin what I call taking up the leadership of your life.

I have a client, who as a child, was always told he was clumsy and as an adult he reacts whenever he hears that word.  The word “Clumsy” is a big trigger for him.  The origins of this issue came into focus when his own child, at dinner, started knocking over his glass of milk and a deep sense of “shame” came over my client.  He never got mad at his child; instead he felt a deep sense of shame as if he knocked over the milk.

We did an interactive guided imagery session over the phone and he remembered a series of childhood experiences when he too spilled his milk and, he remembered a very important “ah ha” moment that started the whole process of unwinding this trigger from his childhood conditioning. 

During the third grade, several times a week he would spill his milk at the dinner table. Every night his mom would set the table placing his glass of milk far away from the tables edge.   But for some reason, he remembered knocking it over, spilling some or all of its contents, and being called “clumsy” by his Dad.  He remembered and saw several of these occurrences until one time, he saw something different.  The “ah ha” moment was when he remembered the first time he noticed his Dad moving his milk into a position where he could knock it over.

Sometime time during the meal his Dad would move his glass of milk, into a less than safe location, when he went to reach for the butter.  Being a young child my client didn’t really notice the new location and at some point whack, over the milk would go.  His Dad had a habit of doing that several times a week and several times a week the glass of milk did a face plant. He got labeled the “clumsy one” in his family of origin and he carried that label through out his life, allowing it to fulfill its destiny by becoming a clumsy one.

In case you thinking, “you mean he became clumsy when he wasn’t?”

Yes, because he believed his Dad’s opinion more than he believed his own first hand experience.  

He helped that “misperception” of his Dad’s, from the episodes of knocking his milk over, to fulfill a glorious destiny and actually sculpted himself into being “the clumsy one”.  He was overpowered by his Dad’s perception of him and, he gave it life.

The thing is, it was a lie. 

The fuller truth was he was young, not so aware, and for several months did not notice his Dad moving his glass of milk to get to the butter.  Every time his Dad moved his milk, he knocked it on the table or the floor or he almost did, because more often than not, he caught it.  He still spilled some milk but he caught the glass before it crashed. In his Dad’s mind though, that small puddle of milk was the equivalent of the whole darn glass being spilled.  Instead of focusing on the coordination required to keep the glass from a face plant, his Dad focused on the spilled milk.

His Dad focused only on the milk going a-wall.

He did not focus on his own behavior and the fact that he set up the whole situation. He did not focus on the fact that he moved the glass, whenever he wanted some butter, to the edge of the table where it was susceptible to being knocked over.  Not once.

He did not notice how often my client used his developing quickness, coordination and his still refining peripheral vision to ward off disaster by grabbing the wobbly glass.

In that session my client started to remember how he went from being really good at kick ball, always the first selected as the captains chose their teams, to really bad and the last one selected by default of being the last player left.  He saw as a child how he “took on” his Dad’s belief and gave it life.  Of course, hearing his Dad call him “clumsy” throughout his childhood years, as a result of those several months when he was in third grade, just kept reinforcing the idea.

So here’s the deal, any opinion someone shares about you is their business not yours. They formed it; they own it.  

And I am not saying that sometimes there may be an element of truth to another’s opinion.  It may be a mirror for how the world perceives you, or your actions.  But it’s your business and responsibility to discern what is true.  If you are on a journey of conscious embodiment, it is your business and responsibility to measure your intentions and behaviors in the face of another’s perception of you.  If you find there’s some truth, well, you now have a decision to make; shift it or not. 

In this process of unwinding childhood conditioning, any wounding, long standing issues of low self esteem, low self-worth, guilt, shame, feelings of inadequacy, feelings of chaos, anxiety and overwhelm, feelings of being out of control, are a sign of a nervous system at odds with itself.  A nervous system at odds with the imprints from childhood that are counter to the “innocence” and the wholeness, of who you were as a developing child and those imprint are running amok in your neural structures.

Competing within my client’s nervous system was his Dad’s message of “the clumsy one” and the innocent inner message from his younger self thinking “didn’t you see how quick my reflexes were?” or “didn’t you see that I caught the glass?”

The imprints from your childhood experiences and influences (society & family conditioning and genetic legacy material) are competing with your highest, brightest, clearest and most coherent self, in the day to day process of developing your self concept.  Those imprints are competing with the wholeness that already exists within you.

Since all good truths warrant repeating, other people’s incomplete understanding or perception of a moment in time, is none of your business until you start believing it.  When you believe something it becomes your business because you have taken it on. My client took on “the clumsy one” from his Dad and gave it some serious real estate in his neural circuitry and psyche.

So here’s what I propose he do:   I suggested he give it back.  

And I am going to make the same suggestion to you for any long term issue that is still running in your nervous system.  Give it back to the person who initially lobbed it at you and do not look back at that moment, or those experiences, in that old way ever again.  

Develop the new perspective that, as a child, you were a growing being and like all growing beings, you may have made some mistakes along the way.  Isn’t that part of what childhood is?  We try things, make mistakes, learn things and try things again.  

And still now, even this very day, you may make a mistake.  But as a person taking up the leadership of your life, you no longer define yourself by any mistake. You define yourself by the energy, focus and commitment to try again. 

My client, now, is happily learning how to juggle.  And he’s really good.  From time to time, as he’s learning to introduce a fourth or fifth ball, he drops one or both. And now, he just picks them up and try’s all over again.

Here’s a deep esoteric secret of life: “mis-takes” always have a companion or a twin called “try-again”.

So welcome to the world of try-again.  Do something, learn something and try again.  

You are not the opinions of adults from your childhood. You are an open-ended journey of discovery, of growth, of learning, of trying life on and figuring out if you like what you tried and if not, you try again.

Just for this moment I will remember that life is a moving expression of do something, learn something and, try again.

No attempt is final, until you stop trying.

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