It is a little on this side of important to know what one is thinking. And by thinking, I don’t mean the subject necessarily. I am talking about one’s beliefs and values. If we view our beliefs and values as a filter for all of the information we take in, then perhaps we can see how important it is that those beliefs and values match our goals, hopes, and dreams. If we are using an incompatible filter, bad things start to happen.
One of the first topics my therapists, both group and individual, addressed was thinking. Their enlightening wisdom: “Your thinking, what you value and believe, is part of what kept you in an unhealthy relationship. Let’s figure out what you value and what you believe. After that, we can start to see how that related to your abusive relationship.” Holy Cow! I had been learning my core values and beliefs since birth. Events in my life had been making modifications along the way. Now we’re going to just figure it out in a few weeks?! This is why I affectionately referred to the emergency shelter as DV Boot-camp.
In the face of the overwhelming task, here was the good news: I have the freedom, at any time in my life, to completely scrap everything I “think” I know…and start from scratch. Rebuild.
When this bit of philosophy was revealed to me I sat and stared at the therapist. I was a blank screen, cursor blinking, waiting for her to say something that made sense. I do not understand the command prompt. What do you mean scrap everything I think I know? What do you mean start over? Wait, what?
But that is the truth of it all. We spend a lifetime learning a group of directives. At first we have them thrust upon us by our parents, our extended family, and our upbringing. These directives are what helps decide what we are going to do when presented with the hundreds of choices we make everyday; vanilla or chocolate, right or left, blue or green, hit or be hit. As we get older we start getting directives from other sources; teachers, administrators, religious leaders, religion, and friends. The more we experience life we come up with our own directives to learn how to cope with, navigate, and control future experiences for the best possible and least painful outcome. These directives are what become our filter. If (a) happens, my filter dictates (b) should be my response. What if those directives are predominately fear based directives?
What if the people who cared for us as babies instilled us with bad directives because they function with a poor value and belief system? What if some of our teachers and religious leaders told us to believe things that would emotionally and intellectually enslave us because that is what they were taught? What if the “rules” we decided for ourselves were based on our fears of rejection, lack of love, and fear of failure? That doesn’t seem like it would be a very healthy filter to process information through in order to make healthy decisions.