I recently finished a book that had me list out all of the thoughts I had about a particular subject and analyze them. I came to the conclusion that the author knew I would, that I don’t actually believe many of those. What does it mean to have thoughts that I don’t believe? It means that I have thoughts that aren’t mine, and that’s a little scary.
This isn’t any sort of schizophrenia or anything. It is more like conditioning. For example, those that lived through the depression functioned a particular way. They focused on saving everything little thing they came across (mild-hoarding) because of scarcity. They focused on always working, not happiness. Jobs were in short supply and that was the difference between life and death back then. That was their experience, they then trained their kids similar things, focus on work, save things because you don’t know when you’ll need them, etc.
Children are influenced by their parents. That is their privilege and their curse. They will be taught and incorporate lessons from their parents without realizing that it came from them. The amount of time spent with parents makes it difficult to distinguish where the parents thoughts end and the kids thoughts begin. One of the most important things a person needs to do as they come into their own is assess their thoughts and determine which ones they truly believe and which ones belong to their parents and they want to leave behind.
The other area we are influenced is the group we surround ourselves with. Adults will adapt to fit into a particular group. I have read that we can tell what a person thinks by looking at their 5 closest friends. The difference between parents and friends, though, is that we can choose our friends. That means that we have to assess our relationships and determine if they are influencing us positively towards the person we want to be, or negatively towards a false representation of who we are or want to me.
We all like to believe that we are totally independent and that no one tells us what to think, but that simply is not true. You need proof, ok… Don’t think of elephants…….I just made you think of elephants. It’s as simple as that. We have to be aware that we are changed by the influences in our lives. That doesn’t mean we should be closed off from the world, but it does mean we should be wary, cautious of what we internalize. It gets more difficult to undo behaviors the longer we persistent in them.