Why Childhood Can Mess Us Up
Why do therapists obsess about childhood? Why would experiences from so long ago still impact us today? The answer is pretty simple. It rests on the fact that our ‘issues’ are not actually defects; they are modes of responding that we LEARNED (don’t think of conscious, purposeful learning here, think more of conditioning). When does this learning happen? Well, during childhood mainly. After all, our brain can’t wait until we are adults to try to figure out how to respond to life! It starts on day one, and works on overdrive throughout our whole childhood.
The problem is, once our brain has learned something a million times over, it stops questioning it’s reality. In this way it can ‘automate’ its response and work more efficiently. Childhood matters so much because when we are younger we are more open to learning. After all, by the time we are adults, haven’t we learned everything we need to know? The brain sure thinks so! This is why changing as an adult is so difficult! Of course there are exceptions to this, for instance when a new experience is particularly intense (think of trauma, or for that matter a therapeutic breakthrough!). Or when we use therapy techniques to trigger memory reconsolidating (which we will talk about in the next video). But as a trend, our conditioned (learned) emotions, behaviors, and perspectives tend to stick with us into adulthood. Hence why our childhood experiences (or more accurately, what those experiences teach us) are at the core of everything!