Are you a person who one day asked herself (or himself): I wonder if my thoughts are accurate? I wonder if I should really believe all my thoughts without question? I wonder if my thoughts actually represent the ultimate truth about myself, about others and about life?
If you did, then on that day you took a major step toward wisdom, even if you didn’t know in that moment how to have better thoughts.
If you have never questioned your thinking, if you have never taken the trouble to consciously change your beliefs, then you are running on what you learned during childhood and past lives, which are your immature interpretations of what other people have said to you.
Discovering What You Believed Was Untrue
Perhaps you can remember a moment in your life when you got a shock: you discovered that what you believed was bunkum. Like the moment you discovered that Santa Claus wasn’t real, perhaps. I remember vividly when I was told (it wasn’t Santa but St Nicholas, to be precise – I am talking 1949 in the Netherlands here, where the saint rode through the streets on his white horse, accompanied by Black Pete, who carried a straw broom to punish children with). My eyes went very big and I argued with my parents. “But I can hear his horse’s hooves running over the roof!” (St Nic did this every night in the weeks before his feast on 6 December, checking up on children.) My father sighed and said to my mother, “See, she wasn’t ready for this!”
After this revelation, I started looking for evidence, and soon saw that St Nic’s beard was actually made of cotton wool, and that Black Pete’s face was an unnatural, shiny black from boot polish. From that moment on, I wondered how the other children could believe St Nicholas was real…
Childhood Beliefs and Ideas
How likely is it that the ideas we formulated during childhood reflect the truth for ourselves? As children, we possessed a certain natural wisdom that could astound adults. As children, we were able to trust our hearts, our intuition, our inner knowing, until this inevitably became not acceptable to the adults around us, or until this was eroded through abuse.
We learned instead how to behave, and learned from adults how to be and not to be, and so self-doubt started creeping in and taking over. Few adults are capable of modeling unconditional love to children, and few adults know how to encourage a child’s independence. And how many children know how to hold their own Spirit against an adult’s persuasions?
Fostering independence and individuality in children is simply not convenient to adults. Children are taught to behave in order to please their parents. Teachers mold children to behave so they can sit behind a desk for hours at a time. And how do they do this? Let’s face it – the easiest way to control a child is through fear – at least, that is the prevailing belief – and fear is not love. Every action based on fear is an action that betrays love and kills off a child’s true expression of itself.
Rebelling Against Control and Fear
We have been taught (most probably, by sincere people who knew no better) to betray self-love, self-confidence, self-worth and self-esteem. And the results have not always fulfilled expectations. After all, a child whose natural bents have been ignored, suppressed or belittled can’t be expected to become an enthusiastically productive adult. The rising wave of rebellious adolescents in our society is proof, to me, of this frustration. Adolescents know they have been short-changed, but can’t feel into what they want instead. It is a totally frustrating situation to be in.
It doesn’t matter how old or young you are as you read this: it is never too late or too early to wake up and reclaim yourself.
It is never, ever too late or too early to make changes. We can’t go back and change the past, but we can change how we feel about it. And we can most definitely change our future by making changes in this present moment.
The power is in the NOW, which is one good reason for not hanging on to regrets or blame, which trap you in the past. It is important to realise that your future is in your hands, since you are able to change your thinking and your beliefs. You need not be a victim forever. You can change your beliefs about yourself and about life. You can come to very different, more empowering and kind conclusions about yourself and about life, as you let go of the illusions you have built up from the time of your earliest abuse.
Getting To Know Yourself
Take some time every day to sit down with yourself to become aware of your beliefs. Write them down on paper or on the computer and list them so you can look at them and see how they have been operating in your life.
This is called ‘getting to know yourself’, although it’s not the whole of it. It is just getting to know the false beliefs you have been carrying around that are limiting you.
To do this takes effort – you can’t just read about it and hope that things will now change. You have to start taking conscious stock of your habitual thoughts, and you will be surprised at how much you have believed them. In fact, you probably treated your thoughts like a kind of God – an I must believe my thoughts kind of doctrine. When your mind tells you to be afraid of the future, of a person, of doing something that would benefit you, you allow yourself to be afraid. You bow to your mind, your negative ego, which you have made your Master. It is no small thing to free yourself from this false master and reprogram your mind with the truth as you discover it. And yet, it is such an obvious thing to do as part of growing up.
Do you know how some whales catch a shoal of fish all at once? They blow bubbles around the shoal, and the fish believe they cannot swim through the bubbles. They are afraid of the bubbles. They stay inside the circle of bubbles and get eaten. That’s not only limiting – it’s deadly! Don’t be fooled by those bubbles...
Investigate: What are your beliefs about yourself? How about starting to write down your discoveries in a notebook, at a time you set aside for yourself, day after day?
What do you believe about God/Source/Spirit?
What are your beliefs about the Universe you live in?
What are your beliefs about the planet?
What are your beliefs about people in general? And the people in your particular sphere?
What are your beliefs about life?
Who do you believe yourself to be?
What do you believe your future will look like?
How much of the time in every hour do you spend enjoying positive, truthful thoughts?
You might also look around you and ask others what they believe about life and about themselves. You might get some interesting answers!
Choosing Your Beliefs
You might also ask yourself: If I was free to believe what I wanted to, what would I choose to believe in?
Do you want to believe that the Universe supports every effort made by a human being to grow? That this support can come in unexpected, wonderful ways? If you do, then why not adopt this new belief? If you choose this belief with honest-to-goodness earnestness, it can already start to change your life for the better.
What is your ideal? What would you ideally feel and believe? That unique ideal of yourself lives deep inside your heart; it is held by your Spirit. Right now, you can allow yourself to feel into that and allow some of that to shine through and excite you…
Changing Beliefs Through Changing Emotions
The effective way to change a belief is by changing the emotions that come with it. For instance, to adopt the belief that the Universe is supportive, you adopt feelings of hope and courage, and learn to release feelings of cynicism and hopelessness.
If you believe that life is hard, there will be an emotion that comes with that: maybe you feel sorry for yourself, maybe you feel numb, maybe angry or sad or all tensed up. Believing that life is hard cuts out a lot of trust in the Universe, trust in yourself and trust in others.
Life isn’t easy, but it isn’t necessarily hard, either! If you insist on this belief, you will prove yourself right. This is what happens with all negative beliefs you hold on to: you tend to create circumstances in your life to prove that your negative belief is correct.
To heal a belief in your mind, you also need to change the emotions in your feeling self.
Beliefs can start to be changed with a simple decision:
I choose to believe that I can live my life with ease and grace.
Repeated many times, this affirmation starts to get hold of your mind. At the same time, you need to start healing the emotions that come up to contradict your new statement of truth. That is the work.
©2016 by Carla van Raay. All Rights Reserved.
Published by Changemakers Books.
Healing from Abuse - A Practical Spiritual Guide
by Carla van Raay.
About the Author
Carla van Raay migrated to Australia in 1950 from the Netherlands. She was a Catholic nun until age 31; left and became a sex worker: both life choices based on early sexual abuse. Her memoir God’s Callgirl became a best seller in several countries. Carla has resided in Western Australia since 1980 as teacher, author and spiritual mentor. She is a mother and grandmother.