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Are we really programmed to fail from our early childhood?
Have you ever heard of Gail Lumet Bucklry’s words: “Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present, and future.”?
If not, maybe you’ve heard this one – “Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are.” I want to make just a simple adjustment – “Tell me who your parents are and I’ll tell you who you are (or will be)”.
I have always wandered why children of the wealthy and successful are often successful as well. And vice versa: poor parents often raise poor children. But why is that so?
Many psychological studies show that people form most of their beliefs and unconscious programming up to the age of 5. In order to survive, the human being has to quickly learn how to operate at a very early age. So, by modeling the behavior of our closest environment (parents, relatives etc.), we start to form our worldview. For example, if we touch the hot stove, we get burnt and we learn a valuable lesson “Hot stove is dangerous, don’t touch!” The same goes with everything around us, whether it is perceived as bad or good. Another example – if from an early age you constantly hear that “money is bad”, than guess what – money will always be an issue and you will try as much as you can to avoid it. In other words, from an early age we determine our belief system that will affect us throughout our whole life. So, let’s explore how beliefs are formed.
Illusion of Truth Effect
“A lie repeated a hundred times becomes the truth.”
A belief to be formed we need to hear the same story over and over again. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t have to be true. Throughout our lives and especially in our early ages we accumulate vast amount of beliefs that are untrue or extremely distorted. Imagine, for example, a father scolding his child over and over again saying “You are good for nothing!”. Being observers, we understand that the reason for the father’s behavior could be a bad day at work and he doesn’t really believe his child is worthless. But the child doesn’t know that and assumes the false belief of its worthlessness. This is called The Illusion of Truth Effect and it can hold the key as to why we are programmed to fail from a very early age.
This phenomenon is first observed by Hasher, Goldstein and Toppino in 1977. The scientists found that subjects rated repeated statements as more true than new statements. The same experiment was conducted in 1989 by Arkes, Hackett and Boehm and again in 1992 by Begg, Anas and Farinacci. The results were very similar – the subjects of the studies considered repeated statements and familiar information as more valid and credible than unfamiliar facts. The simple conclusion we can draw is that it is possible that not everything we have heard from parents, teachers, television, radio etc. is true – it simply feels true because we have heard it over and over again. It is no wonder that people in history really believed that the world was flat – they simply had been hearing the same story many times. This simple realization can turn our lives upside down in an instant.
I don’t mean that that everything we have heard is false, but these studies raise very significant questions. Is everything we know really true? Are all beliefs we have adopted over the years true? And since human beings take actions (conscious and unconscious) on a daily basis according to their beliefs, it is clear that beliefs determine our reality and behavior. It is nothing revolutionary. So, it seems that everything that we have been programmed with from an early age will continue to affect us. As long as we cling to our old beliefs, we will continue to get the same results.
“Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
In this line of thinking, we can more or less predict our future by simply observing our parents, relatives and close environment.
It doesn’t mean that everything we have learned is wrong or harming. It means that if we experience some kind of difficulties in areas of our lives, most of the cases the root could be found in our core beliefs (adopted from our parents, relatives, teachers and society).
The good news is that we are able to change at any time we decide by simply changing our point of view!
Do you feel you have been programmed to fail? Share your thoughts on the matter!