Belief Systems

What are beliefs systems and why are they so important?

Belief systems are a conglomeration of concepts that rule different layers of human communication and societies. Social sciences have made the distinction between varied subgroups. On a nuclear level there are the immediate caregivers with their individual communication styles, life experiences and understanding. On the next level, the extended family and significant others, acquaintances, neighbours, community, school and other educational systems. After there is the subsystem of social, cultural, religious doctrines prevalent in your country. The international relationships come after, and then the global atmosphere.

Imagine a person moving to a new country from a complete different culture and social expectations. This person would evidently experience a totally new conceptual and symbolic integration and re-adjustment. This process also happens after you were born and started assimilating beliefs around you. The norms and habits you witness become most of your language and by default thinking.

To me this raises a question of vital importance: what comes first, the pure and clear mind or the accumulation of information? It is the pure and clear mind of a child obviously, like a blank canvas, and then after there is the layers of data that start settling and integrating in the mind.

The dualism of human development is very noticeable. In one hand a human being is still like a tabula rasa because has the potential and ability to slow down and experience states of joy and calmness. On the other hand, depending of the upbringing, the person can also become an over-reactive anxious and rigid entity, responding to the stimuli, occurrences and stress without making space to process own feelings and honest views. The over-reactive thinking and action are what tend to cause thought disorganisation and mental illness.

Belief systems are therefore like a software installed without one’s full consent as we were not aware that we could actually step back and develop an alternative view. Most people tend to exist like sponges, not filters. The expectations of our world are quite aggressive and derogatory, and impair the potential of individuals, and of their creative and even scientific thinking.

PSYCHOLOGICAL FREEDOM

Would you like to feel fulfilled in your existence? I refer to the word “existence” considerably as it encompasses from being born to senior stages of our lives. I am aware that it is important to stretch our perception of time once in a while, otherwise, we might get too stuck in particular unhelpful and unkind details and negative behavioural cycles. I am sharing below 5 suggestions concerning how you can achieve psychological freedom.

1. It is vital to realise what your real desires are, so you don’t keep making decisions that don’t contribute to your happiness. When you repeat what you don’t want, you are bringing heavy and about to burst clouds to a sunny territory.

2. It is necessary to ground on universal principles, ethics and in elements of organic productivity. In relationships, this means being brave to acknowledge our emotions and current viewpoints, while allowing space for further reflection, learning and self-discovery. For instance starting a conversation with ” I now feel ______ and my stance is ______, even though it may change if appropriate”. By adopting this communication style you give yourself the time and freedom to re-examine and evolve your discoveries. Personal flexibility is kindness.

3. Everyone has the right to feel safe and healthy. Our minds have to be prioritised as they determine how we think about our general well-being and others. Being safe is not only about experiencing physical safety but also psychological, in other words, It is extremely important to not get used to experiencing feeling unvalued, disrespected and judged.

4. Overcome fear and embrace your valid views. Humankind is so on edge when it comes to taking an assertive stand and verbalising accurate and present emotions. Isn’t this the only way to freedom?

5. The ultimate positioning is when the world becomes a place of genuine interactions and when self-respect and self-introspection are the pillars, and joyful experiences the consequence.

PSYCHOLOGICAL SINGULARITY FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH AUTISM AND INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY

Parents are the pillars of our world as they have the very important roles of protecting, caring and educating their children, and inadvertently helping professionals to become better at their jobs.

In my view parents require to acknowledge their need for personal space and self-care too. When they do this everyone in the household increases their self-awareness and consequently self-worth.

The key points are that parents realise that they might have been dismissing the guidance available to them: their emotions. The exhaustion they experience sometimes (or often), indicates a diversion from their own self-love path. I see this happening significantly in my work as clinical psychologist, as normally other demands and worries take priority.

I work mainly with parents of autistic children and I witness great potential and love coming from them; however, I also notice reluctance and insecurity when it comes to trusting themselves first. This is perhaps due to longstanding beliefs related to the topic of autism or learning disabilities, parenthood, individual narratives and social expectations. Parents require to remember that their lives are equally important, and that they deserve to mind the gap between their thoughts and their actions, and enhance their sensitivity to the way they feel.

If you are a parent of a child with autism you will most likely experience ambivalent and puzzling emotions.

Most people raise the theme of rigidity, and need to stick to a routine to not intensify anxiety on the child, which in many ways is positive because it provides the physical and emotional safety and the secure attachment that they are entitled to. However, it is likewise relevant that parents remember the importance of space for personal reflection and to not suppress creative and spontaneous behaviour.

Scientists of psychology have carried out extensive research that confirms the impact of social conditioning which is interconnected with how parents have been also brought-up and their exposure to education. If you have come from a chaotic family, or a high achieving one, you might not have been reminded to appreciate your emotional states. I’ve seen many times parents flourishing when we initiate discussion about the principle of self-worth. Very quickly they become quite creative and insightful, and able to troubleshoot challenging situations at home with minimal or none support.

I would like to recommend that parents become more attentive to their emotions, and to take a non-judgemental stance even if these emotions are convoluted, such as anger or serious frustration. Instead see yourself as extremely valuable and also an emotional being that is deserving of unconditional respect and self-love.

Take a deep breath and re-connect with the purpose of your existence in this magnificent planet that supersedes the mind blocks and any unpleasant emotions.

Article written by Dr Andreia Santo (April 2020)