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Fraser Trevor Fraser Trevor Author
Title: From the beginning of life, we experience events that seem to threaten our well-being, events that are frightening to us for one reason or another.
Author: Fraser Trevor
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We must cast off our false, exterior self like the cheap and showy garment that it is. We must find our real self. . .in its very great a...
Experience
We must cast off our false, exterior self like the cheap and showy garment that it is. We must find our real self. . .in its very great and very simple dignity: created to be a child of God, and capable of loving with something of God's own sincerity
What happens to our true selves, basically, is that they get lost in fear. From the beginning of life, we experience events that seem to threaten our well-being, events that are frightening to us for one reason or another.
As young children we may be left to cry too long when we are hungry. We may hear angry voices and see angry faces and feel ourselves being handled roughly. We may unsuccessfully seek eye contact with a distracted or depressed caretaker. We may feel the anxiety and tension of the adult who holds us. Alarm bells begin to sound inside. What is wrong? we wonder. What do these things mean? We are likely to assume that such events may mean that something is wrong with us—that maybe something is very wrong with us.
It is as if our adult caretakers are holding up a mirror for us all the time. We look into their faces and believe we are seeing either ourselves or the effects of our presence. If what we see in that mirror is mostly a calm, loving and nurturing picture, we will believe that we are loved and that we are known to be loving. But if we look into that mirror and see primarily anger, depression or anxiety we will believe that something is wrong with us. As children we have no way of knowing that the distress we are seeing and sensing is not a reflection of ourselves. We will see ourselves in the distressed faces of our caretakers and develop fears about ourselves—fears that we are not loved or that we are not loving.
If in addition to these distressing mirrors we experience distressing words and actions, our worst fears will be confirmed. If we are told that it is our fault that our caretaker is distressed, we will believe that that is true. If our physical or emotional needs are neglected we will believe we have little value. If an adult we are supposed to be able to trust abuses us emotionally or physically or sexually, we will believe we are at fault. If a parent dies or leaves, we will believe we were the cause.
The most fundamental fears that develop from our beliefs about ourselves are fears that we are not loving and that we are not loved. We question the core of our true selves. The fears that we are not loved and that we are not capable of loving take on specific nuances for each of us, depending on our experiences. The fears that we are not loved or that we are not capable of loving may translate into fears that we are not good enough. Or that we don't matter. Or that we are dangerous. Or that we are insignificant. Or that we are failures.
The difficulty is that all of these fears about ourselves become beliefs. We begin to experience these fears about ourselves not as distortions but as truth. This process is further complicated by the fact that we look at life events through the grid of these distortions and fears and see events in a way that seems to confirm our negative beliefs. If I believe that I don't matter, and someone close to me is distracted by something in his or her own life and neglects me periodically, I will experience this neglect as a confirmation of my worst fear about myself. If I believe that I am dangerous, and a person I want to be close to is anxious about being close to anyone, I will see this anxiety as evidence of what I believe to be true about myself.
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