The world around us is so busy and full, that in order to cope with knowing what’s what, our brain creates ‘schemas as a means of identification. The schemas are like templates for our brain. So for example, if we see a creature with four legs and a wagging tail, we know that’s a dog because those characteristics tell us so. This is how schemas work.
This concept is not too dissimilar from stereotypes when you think about. We see somebody looking or saving a certain way, and our brain has a scheme or template that assumes something about them. For example, that serious looking guy in a suit, carrying a briefcase and walking briskly must be important – he is probably in business himself, or employed in an important corporate roll.
When we consider schemas as a means to an end, a way for our brain to make sense or a crowded world, they are not a bad thing. They help us not to try and process too much information.
Where we can go wrong when we allow stereotypes to be applied everywhere – even to ourselves at times! When we are growing up we may be told that some people are ‘bad’, some are lazy, or that a certain type of person is to be feared. Depending on what our parents believe; these ideas become instilled in us at a young age.
I know somebody who grew up fearing dogs as her mother was afraid of them, so she passed on the message that anything that barks is a scary creature. That girl grew up and later learned to love dogs once she figured out that she had been living her mother’s experience, not her own.
But this is how kids learn. We start to understand the world based on what the adults in our life teach us.
Have you thought about the ideas you grew up with from family and the community around you? Perhaps your view of the world was shaped by religion, fear, or an attitude from your parents.
Re-learning as an adult
As kids, we learn about how the world works in a way that is heavily influenced by our parents and teachers. And of course, that is their role to help us get started. But as we start to understand as we grow, the world is slightly different for each of us, depending on the filters that we view it through. How we experience life will also vary according to our individual personalities.
What we learned in childhood is an excellent foundation to build upon, but later we get to renovate, like you would with an older house. The basic structure is there but your tastes are different from those of your parents, and perhaps the walls are built for you just don’t serve your best interests anymore.
Analogies aside, I’m suggesting that their perspectives might be different to you, and of course, they grew up in a different generation to you. They may also have heroic beliefs that you don’t ascribe to, such as my friend, the mother and the fear of dogs.
Religion is a common area for this. In our recently published book Life Stories Shift , one of our contributing authors, Steiner Ditlifsen , shared his own story of growing up within a religion that, in the end, did not serve him as an adult. Perhaps you can relate?
Certainly, religion is a great example of a belief or framework that will color the way you see the world as a child, but become something that you shed later in life as you begin to re-learn who you are.
Re-learning about yourself
Part of my work with young people involving them getting to know their archetypes, as these aspects of their personality that show up in them naturally. You could say that this shows much more about whom they are at their core than about external influences in their lives.
Whether young people are guided about their future career choices my parents or teachers, who will plant ideas in such as ‘artists don’t earn money‘, or ‘you need to pick one thing to focus on‘.
While these comments are made with the best of intentions, they can easily contribute to limiting beliefs in that young person. I know plenty of adults who have denied or suppressed aspects of themselves, such as musical talent for example, because they heard this sort of thing from their parents.
When you look at your life through the lens of the archetypes, you can see more than just stereotypes and job roles. You can see passions, talents and interests – which ultimately can be embraced in any number of ways. So a love of music doesn’t have to result in a music-only career, unless that’s what you actually want. There are so many possibilities to embrace when we can open up our way of thinking about the world.
If any of this sounds like you, and as an adult you feel that you missed out on interests you had when you were younger, then I want to tell you that it’s never too late.
It’s never too late to get over a fear of dogs, or to play the piano, or pick up a paintbrush, or anything that your personality leads you to.
If you are stuck for inspiration then take a look at my YouTube channel l. There are some short videos here that will introduce you to a few archetypes that you might recognize in yourself perhaps.
Then for some extra inspiration, read our collection of Life-shift Stories from our brave and brilliant authors here.