Did we ever grow up? Well, yes and no! A part of us did and some parts of us didn’t. Let’s find out how that happens.
Every child experiences all that happens around him with total awareness. In the first seven years the child’s brain is like a sponge, taking in all sensory inputs and building his idea of his surroundings. As long as the environment is safe, the child learns with incredible speed. However, when the environment is scary or stressful, the child unlearns past learning just as rapidly.
In the early years of every child’s life, whenever there is shock, violence, fear or pain, these intense emotions are imprinted deeply into memory. Whenever the same activity or situation is repeated, the nervous system and body subconsciously re-experience the memory of that trauma. This creates a blind spot in the child’s neurological process and he literally goes blind to any alternative except knee-jerk, repetitive reactions.
As an example, if a child is happily playing with a puppy and gets accidentally scratched or bitten he might forget the incident consciously but never be able to like being around dogs and may not know the reason why. All compulsive behaviors begin this way and continue into adulthood, until we are willing to make another choice.
For instance, when a child is learning the alphabets, say ABC, if there is stress around him like people shouting or judgments like, ’You’ll never do it right’, or constant comparisons, this activity gets fused together with other sensory inputs like hearing and seeing and one package of memory is formed. From then on whenever he attempts to learn ABC or write he subconsciously remembers past events and feelings and the same stress comes on line. This interferes with his ability to do it well. Over time, the child may even avoid trying to read or write because he believes it is stressful and undoable.
Whenever we feel deeply stressed our brain and body goes into a fight or flight response. It’s good if we can actually fight or run away, but most times we just freeze emotionally. Our ’frozen feelings’ are the cause of this ’glitch’ in our learning process. We know we should be able to make a positive change, but that doesn’t change anything. With a sense of helplessness we fear the future and self-doubt rules our lives.
The process of change need not be traumatic. We need to understand that whatever pain we experienced in the past because of which we made certain choices, were the only recourse we had at the time. We couldn’t have done any better because we didn’t know how to. But we should realize that was then and this is now! We can get help from trained professionals and learn to unblock the negative emotions fused in our past that affect our positive future. We can choose to choose again. It’s up to us. It’s our movie!
[original article from times of india The writer is the co-founder, AJNA Centre for Learning, Pune. ]