The biggest false belief that we hold onto is that we are our ego-self, but we also have a primary belief that shapes our fundamental approach to life, and a collection of core beliefs that influence our different strategies for life. Discovering these false beliefs is the key to liberating ourselves from the ego’s narcissistic, controlling and fear-based strategies. Discovering these false beliefs is the key to a better life.
We all have lots of false, distorted and limiting beliefs buried in our sub-conscious, and they have been highly influential in shaping our attitude to life. Their influence goes unchallenged because they operate outside of our conscious awareness. They distort our perceptions of reality and they only allow us to remember things that reinforce their false and distorted beliefs. Consequently, a lot of the burdens we carry in life are imaginary – the results of false beliefs. So freeing ourselves from our false, distorted and limiting beliefs can profoundly affect our self-image, our world view and the way we live our lives.
The Childhood Origin of False Beliefs
Most of our false beliefs originate from our early childhood, when our personal consciousness was insufficiently developed to be objective, rational and wise. Our limited mental capacity made lots of incorrect assumptions, interpretations and conclusions which gave rise to lots of false, distorted and limiting beliefs. These in turn gave rise to lots of naïve, ineffective, conflicting and distressing strategies which still sub-consciously influence and direct our lives today.
Rehashing our childhood traumas can be very helpful when healing and reintegrating exiled parts, but it isn’t always very helpful in exposing the false beliefs of our ego structures. Insight and intuition are far more effective, and these faculties work better when we are not caught up in painful emotions. Reconnecting with the past is obviously necessary, but the soul’s pure awareness can give us intuitive insight without getting caught up the story. Inquiry requires us to be in an open and receptive state, and only bring in the mind after an insight has been gained, to discern its relevance and validity.
Identifying and invalidating the false and distorted beliefs we have about our childhood, enables us to see our childhood in a much more positive light. Aspects of it may have seemed bad from the subjective perspective of the ego, but from the objective perspective of the soul it was all perfect. The one thing that we tend to forget in psychological work is that we chose our lives. We chose them because they would provide our souls with the perfect opportunities we need to develop and evolve. Resenting our childhood or blaming our parents is detrimental on a number of levels: it causes us to suffer, it makes us feel helpless, it blocks our intuitive inquiry and it keeps us trapped in the past.
Our primary belief is the false or distorted seed thought around which our entire ego super-structure developed. When we were only a few months old something happened (a primary wound) that caused us to incorrectly believe that “I am not good enough” (or something similar). Our entire ego super-structure grew around that primary belief, so many of our coping and survival strategies in life are concerned with addressing the feeling of lack that is associated with our primary belief. Even our desire to improve ourselves and progress spiritually comes partly from the false belief that is imprinted into our ego-self (and partly from our Self/soul’s natural impulse to evolve and express itself fully). But no matter what we achieve, nothing will ever alleviate the primary belief that we are not good enough. We can never be truly satisfied or happy while we hold onto our primary belief. But we can’t completely let go of it until we realise our true-Self, because our primary belief is imprinted into the core of our ego-self. Nevertheless, identifying our primary belief can significantly reduce its influence over us and help us to understand ourselves better.
We all have slightly different primary beliefs, such as: I am unlovable, helpless, lost, abandoned, unsafe, powerless or unworthy, but the principle is the same. Our ego’s need to overcompensate for the insecure feelings that are associated with our primary belief determines our entire approach to life. For example, someone whose primary belief is “I am powerless” will subconsciously strive towards attaining power (often at any cost). Someone whose primary belief is “I am unlovable” will do anything they can to be loved (even if it means putting up with abuse). Basically, the ego wants to prove the primary belief wrong.
The programming of a primary belief is so deep and so strong that it can override all other aspects of our personality, including our morals. We may be a kind, considerate, sensible and ethical most of the time, but in matters relating to our primary belief our good nature may go out the window.
Our primary belief is surrounded by a number of associated beliefs that are also very close to the core of our ego-self. A primary belief is quite generic (e.g. I am not good enough), but core beliefs are a bit more specific (e.g. I am stupid, I am not important, I am invisible, nobody likes me, I can’t do it, etc.). Further out from the core beliefs are countless other inter-related peripheral beliefs that connect together to form a larger network of beliefs – our belief system.
Most elements of the ego (exiles, holes and structures) are based around a false, distorted or limiting belief. Yes, they often have emotional and energetic qualities too, but the false or limiting belief is usually the core of the issue. The goal of personal self-inquiry is to discover these false, distorted or limiting beliefs and see through them.
Our core beliefs formed early in our childhood, when our ego was small, young and innocent. If we grew up in a balanced, safe and loving environment each new layer of our ego would have become more aligned with the truth. But if we grew up in an unstable, confusing and traumatic environment each new layer of the ego would have become more distorted from the truth. Growing up and learning to survive in a difficult environment may lead us to believe that “Life can be difficult” (which is objectively true). But the ego may distort this into “Life is difficult” (which is not true). The ego may distort it even further into “Life has to be difficult”, which may cause us to subconsciously manifest unnecessary difficulties in our lives. This belief can give rise to associated beliefs such as “I feel at home in difficult environments”, which can distort into “I feel uncomfortable in safe and caring environments”. Such beliefs can make it difficult for people to stay in personal or therapeutic relationships.
Some of the ego-structures and belief patterns that are furthest away from our core may have become so distorted that they are the polar opposite of our primary or core beliefs. These parts of us may believe that “I am great” and “Everybody loves me” whereas the core parts of our ego believe that “I am nothing” and “nobody loves me”. This can result in a lot of inner conflict and unnecessary difficulties in life.