Illusive but Destructive: Belief System Inheritance


It was so subtle. And I was entirely defenseless to protect myself from it. I had no reference point in my youngest years to be able to say, “Hey, believing this will play out badly for me in the future. I’m going to decide to believe differently.” It was what I naturally took to be “normal” because it was my normal. It was the home I grew up in. It was the two most advanced human beings that I knew, modeling to me what it meant to be human. Being 100% impressionable, I watched and learned and without even thinking about it plugged what I saw into my first and most important belief system about who I was and what it meant to be valuable.

For so long I could not figure out why I struggled and struggled with depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. I had no traumatic event to point to in my childhood to explain it. When I thought about my past I just felt lost and hazy. In my present, I was anxious, quiet, afraid to assert my real self, not really knowing who my real self was. I grew to assume everyone else was better than I was , even though I was smart and talented. The common slogan of “just be yourself” always appealed to me, made me feel excited, but I never really got it. Inside I just felt empty. I habitually admired other people, and eventually I learned how to act like other people in an attempt to feel like I was somebody, that I had something, something in myself that I admired in them.  I was always trying to be somebody else… because I didn’t know how to be me. Because I couldn’t figure out why I struggled so much, I really felt like there must be something wrong with me. I was weak, somehow faulty, just prone to be depressed. Later on in life I beat myself up for not believing enough that God loved me, that I really must be failing spiritually if I was so depressed. It must be true, because what other explanation was there? Somehow, I was doing something wrong.

The belief system that became such a powerful force in my life had a beginning somewhere… The beginning of this belief system, passed down to me like a bad kind of inheritance, was so hard for me to see because it happened so passively. The lies were never said to me verbally, like “Carla, you are worthless. You’re just one big screw-up. You have nothing to offer.” Nope. My parents never said things like that. How did it happen then that I grew up in a definite state of repression and eventually depression?

There are different pieces of the puzzle, as enforcers of the belief system cropped up in different areas of my life. But I’m focusing a lot on my parents now because they were my first teachers and therefore the most powerful ones. My Dad has his own story of brokenness. If you know my Dad you may feel angry or defensive reading my posts because he is a very nice man.  But the belief system that caused brokenness in my Dad’s past is the very same one that caused him to contribute to my broken past. Exposing how the belief system was passed down to me leads to understanding, and understanding leads to healing and freedom. This is why I will write so candidly. In seeing how the belief system was implanted in me in my earliest years, I become free of the lie that I was just born faulty, born with the tendency to be depressed, born with a weak mind or weak soul. This is the truth: I wasn’t born with it, I was born into it. I wasn’t born to be depressed or to struggle with low self-esteem. I learned it from somewhere and just didn’t know how to get rid of it until now. The cycle of lies will only die if they are exposed to the light. I’ve already written about one aspect of the belief system my Dad passed down to me in “The Unengaged Gardener”. In my next post, I will expose another aspect.

In reading Paulo Coelho’s amazing book “The Alchemist” I was so inspired by the main character Santiago, on a quest to find his treasure. He reflects to himself that “he had to chose between thinking of himself as the poor victim of a thief and as an adventurer in quest of his treasure.  ‘I am an adventurer, looking for treasure,’ he said to himself.” We are adventurers on a quest for our treasure, the treasure of knowing the real truth about who we are and why it has been so hard for us to believe that truth. This quest will definitely lead us through painful territory. But the treasure is worth it. I’m excited to be on this journey with you!


20 response to "Illusive but Destructive: Belief System Inheritance"

  1. By: Carla Posted: 8th March

    Thank you E… I’m really glad to know that. 🙂


  2. By: E Posted: 7th March

    Carla, you are an excellent writer. Thank you for sharing your gift and your honesty. You helped me today.

  3. By: Carla Posted: 11th April

    Still Learning~ that’s a powerful observation, that the fruit displays the health of the tree. I know that every parent makes mistakes. I’m excited to write about this stuff because even though that is true, the devaluing core belief system that gets passed down is the most important thing to “inspect” as we grow older so we can find the freedom we are so hungry for. I love how you say that the best thing a parent can do is find health for themselves. That is absolutely what I want for my parents, and I’m excited that they are pursuing it. Thanks for sharing your valuable thoughts here!

    Cindy~ thanks for sharing your joy with us too! It is so cool that we can encourage each other. It’s exciting to be on the journey with you, seeing through the crap (I love your bluntness!) that does not belong to us. Thanks Cindy.

    Love Carla

  4. By: Carla Posted: 11th April

    Jimmy B~ Your comments brought tears to my eyes. You said, “I am as valuable as gold, because I am me, not as someone everyone else wants me to be. I am not lazy, stupid or needy. I have greatness to contribute to the world.” Thank you so much for doing exactly this in expressing your thoughts so honestly here. Sharing your truth just as you did beats fancy vocabulary anytime. Wow- this is a pretty powerful theme! It’s shedding light on so many other things too. Thanks again Jim.

    BetterLateThanNever~ I love your “name” because it is so true. I’m excited for you, that you are finding more clarity and working your way out of the BOG (I love that imagery!) and finding freedom. It is so true- you are loved for exactly who you are. It’s great to share the journey with you!

    Hi Annette! Thanks so much for visiting and for leaving your note. I agree with you! Hope to see you here again.

  5. By: Cindy Leigh Wilson Posted: 11th April

    Wow. Every time I get back to this blog I am amazed at how it is like a spear of medicine shooting straight to the spot of poison in my heart. I have been very ill recently and am behind in your posts because of this. I am so grateful God brought me to this post first. Carla’s words and the comments posted after are a great encouragement for me to catch up fast!

    Thanks to all of the “truth seekers” here. May God give us all the courage to continue our journey to discover the “gems” He created us to be….and thank you Father for Carla and Darlene’s obvious joy in helping us with our search.

    I’m hoping to look at life more as Santiago did…as an adventurer looking for a hidden treasure…because this is my reality…God created me beautifully, something precious in His eyes. Life’s circumstances have piled “crap” (sorry for the bluntness) all over the reality of who I am…and for a moment in time I am lost. Like Santiago, I can chose to be a victim and whine about what has been done to me, or I can chose to be an adventurer and not waste another minute in my quest to find my “hidden treasure”. Wow….what inspiration I have been given to continue my journey!

    Be Blessed fellow treasure/truth seekers,
    Cindy Leigh

  6. By: Still Learning Posted: 10th April

    I am amazed at how clearly and explicitly you have spelled out the truth of what really goes on behind the scenes. This post really brings to light for me the fact that no matter how much parents try to hide their fears, weaknesses, low self esteem and insecurities from their children, the children will reveal it in their lives. The fruit will display the health of the tree. The best thing parents can to is become healthy themselves. I am so glad that you are discovering the truth about yourself, your value, and inspiring me and others to do the same. Thank you so much!

  7. By: Annette Gray Posted: 10th April

    Jimmy B. You said it beautifully; nothing lame about it. Thank you all for sharing.

  8. By: BetterLateThanNever:-) Posted: 10th April

    Wow!!! Your life and mine are echoes of each other… except I am only finding these things out at nearly 60. I wondered and wondered why I was so broken when I couldn’t recall traumatic abuse of any kind. After years of praying and searching for answers through therapy, books, etc., I am learning exactly the kinds of things you express so well in your emails and blogs. I love my parents dearly, but there is much that is broken in their lives, learned passively from their own broken families and painful, even abusive, circumstances. They did the very best they could with me and my siblings, and as far as I know, I am the only one that ended up feeling broken enough to seek help, but much of what you write rings true in my life. I am so blessed to finally be learning these things and be finding my way out of the bog and into freedom and LIFE. I am discovering that my Abba loves me, accepts me just as I am, there is nothing I need to do, nothing I CAN do, to earn His affection. I am a little child again, held on His knee, embraced as I embrace my grandchildren, delighted in as I delight in them, … powerful stuff! Thanks for all you write…your clarity adds to my own.

  9. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 10th April

    Great post Carla,
    I wanted to respond to Jimmy B. (who is my husband by the way you guys) I wanted to say that Carla and I have MANY of these conversations about how our heads try to tell us that our posts aren’t good enough. The old belief system is so often not far away. Thanks for leaving these comments Jim, you make such a great point and shed light on something that I think we ALL deal with in our daily lives. The point is that you DID post it, and before you would have not.
    Hugs, Darlene

  10. By: Jimmy B Posted: 10th April

    By the way as soon as I posted this my voices in my head immediately started shouting “boy this is lame sauce”. You should have said it better. How come you don’t have a better vocabulary so you could have said it better. You should have been better in school, not so stupid, so I could have articulated it better. I guess I shouldn’t have shared. I should try harder next time to get it more perfect, more wordy. Maybe you should just crawl off and be worthless.
    The best thing about hearing my doubt is that I can believe, deep in my heart, what I did was fine. What I said was fine. The voices are not mine. I welcome the voices now so I can confront them, not stuff them ddep inside to fester like a wound, a disease a plague. I am changing my core beliefs. I am “Fine to be Me”

  11. By: Jimmy B Posted: 10th April

    Great Post Subtle-great word. You are totaly right about nothing is ever said out load, only implied. It was easier when my parents said out load I was lazy, stupid, needy. I could go about my day and sulk or just be plain devastated my “teachers” would think that. The people that are supposed to love me and “bring me up” think I am a “dud” The most cruel way of molding us into someone we are not are by the things that are not said out load. They implied, gave discusted looks, ignored–subtle. It is no wonder we try to be someone else because we are constantly told we are not good enough, to try harder and don’t be so stupid. We are told why can’t we be more like Billy and Suzie, they seem to be perfect. So we try and try to no avail. We think everything would be better if we just died and them our parents could have Billy and Suzie and then the world would be perfect. The truth is our parents were pushed into who they wern’t meant to be also. They don’t have a clue how to nurture and truley love, or how to be whole themselves, This way of evolution has to stop. We need to change our core beliefs of not good enough, we are expendable, we are worthless, we shouldn’t exist. We need to instill into our lives we are valuable as human beings. Our lives are worth living. I am as valuable as gold, because I am me, not as someone everyone else wants me to be. I am not lazy, stupid or needy. I have greatness to contribute to the world, just as You and Darlene are contributing gold to the world. Keep up the battle to be you and share your journey and truth. You ladies shout from high places to the world and my we hear truth and the hope of being “Whole”

  12. By: Carla Posted: 10th April

    Hi Patricia~ thanks for sharing this. It’s so true how the belief system manifests itself in many different ways. I agree that these different ways easily get passed down from generation to generation- we somehow think of them as “normal”. I also totally agree that our awareness and desire to uproot the lies and re-plant the truth will lead to healing for ourselves and help to stop the cycle. That’s where the hope is. Thanks Patricia!


  13. By: Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker Posted: 9th April

    Many family patterns of behavior are generational—passed from one generation to the next. In my family, the most noticeable pattern is the love/anger relationship between the mothers and daughters in my mother’s side of the family. On my dad’s side of the family the pattern that is passed down is that of alcoholism and codependency. Hopefully with our awarenesses we can stop them from being passed down to the next generation.

  14. By: Carla Posted: 9th April

    Splinteredones~ “insidious” is the perfect name for it. Very true! Thanks again for being here and for your note.

    Susan, thanks for highlighting this really important distinction! I was actually thinking through a post about that for another time… It is so easy for us to think, “Well, I guess I’m just like my dad or my mom and it’s just my personality so I have to live with this.” But you are bang on- believing lies about who we are is not part of our real personalities! Thanks for sharing this Susan.


  15. By: Carla Posted: 9th April

    Nikki, thank you for sharing this with us! You definitely have NOT lost your marbles! That feeling of knowing something isn’t right but not being able to put your finger on it is a big clue in itself- but when you are conditioned to doubt your feelings, it’s easy to just ignore it. What you have shared is really powerful. It takes courage to be able to say that “this is wrong and there is something better for me.” I’m excited for you to pursue more counseling. Working with a good counselor was a huge boost to my recovery. You are an awesome truth seeker and writer Nikki! Thanks for visiting and posting your thoughts.

    Hugs to you,

  16. By: Susan Posted: 9th April

    A wonderful post, Carla! It is so vital for the world to begin to see how “it” is passed to us, generation to generation and that the only thing “genetic” about this is that we are related to those who passed to us their own faulty beliefs and issues.


  17. By: Splinteredones Posted: 9th April

    It’s the insidious nature of what we learn at what age in what environment. Good show for shedding light thank you!

  18. By: Nikki Posted: 9th April

    As I read this it was as if I had wrote it myself .. because you are right we are not born faulty however we are born into a world that has a lot of faults and issues and whatever was passed on to our parents gets passed onto us unless they have been strong enough to stand up to the wrong and correct it with the truth.. Truth always breaks the cycle and the silence ..

    My Dad was a very neglected child growing up he had all the worldly materials he needed but he didn’t have love … so when I came into the picture he wanted me but from the time I was born I was a mama’s girl and didn’t have much to do with him. My dad saw this as a form of rejection even though I was only a baby so to protect himself he rejected me in so many ways.. wounded people continue wounding unless they heal my dad has healed some but not much .. I love him but for a long time in my life I hated him.. I come to love him for who he is when I saw that what I hated him for I was also guilty of … it was at that point that I truly begin to care for myself as well.. my dad was emotionally, physically, and verbally abusive towards me when I was a child .. I wanted to so much get his approval but I don’t think he could approve anyone because he never gave himself approval .. It is a viscous cycle and until someone is brave enough to stand up and face the truth then the cycle continues…

    Dealing with all this has taught me a lot about myself. Though there are things I am still not sure about .. much like you I have had a hard time understanding myself. I to would try to be what i thought to be admirable. It is just within the last few months that I am getting some form of my identity back. I start therapy again next week. I haven’t been to see a therapist in over a year but this time around I do have some idea where I need help. Before I was just as clueless to what I needed help with I just knew something wasn’t right … to be much more honest neither did my therapist know how to help me. I had one therapist a few years ago tell me that I was the most emotionally abused person they had ever encountered in their office. At the time I didn’t know how to take that, but now I understand! I also see that where the abused stopped from my dad I picked it up and went on with the abuse. It is never easy seeing yourself in this sort of light but truth is not promised to be easy just that we can bare it and deal with it …

    In the bible there was a king named Hezekiah .. Hezekiah’s great grandfather King Uriah was a Godly man but he didn’t do what he should have done by his son … his son veered away from God’s commands and started worshiping foreign gods which his son grew up to take it a step further and actually start sacrificing his children to these gods.. Hezekiah was one of his children that just so happened got away … when Hezekiah came into rule he tore down all these fake gods of his father and did away with the sacrificing etc. In other words he cleaned house. Sometimes we have to have a Hezekiah generation to come about … when “Enough is enough” and I feel like I am that person in my family .. from the time I was old enough to speak I really went against the family grain to sort of speak .. but as a child i did not realize that I did it is now as an adult I see that and I am glad I went against the grain because what was being spoon fed to me was generations of lies .. it wasn’t right and it hid the truth!

    Thank you for sharing your story and for being courageous to stand up! It has encouraged me to be a little more vocal about things! And it helps me to see someone else say exactly what I have discovered because it confirms in me that I have not lost my marbles … in other words your words gives me the strength to keep going!!

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