We might assume that what happened in the past should stay in the past because rationally we are not experiencing it now. However our subconscious contains everyone we’ve ever been, the sum total of our experiences. Plus, we’re talking about belief here not reasoning. Specifically the belief of the child who created our self concept. This is why you might know that you are fine cognitively but you feel the opposite, often with no rational basis.
Imagine our self concept is created much like building a house. The foundations of the house are our beliefs about ourselves from our formative years. So the house that is constructed upon these foundations will be affected by them. If the foundation has a weak or unstable spot then the house will have that vulnerability running through it.
Worse still, because this is a ‘belief’ it is relatively impervious to logic and pervades our view of the world and our place within it. We use the belief to apply confirmation bias to our experiences. For example, if I believe at my core I’m a failure, I will largely ignore evidence that implies otherwise. I might get 99 out of a hundred questions right in a quiz but obsess about the one that I got wrong and use it as evidence of my lack of value. I might still feel a failure. We also might desperately crave what we lacked in childhood in our adult life. Approval or praise for example, but then when offered it, reject it because it does not fit with our beliefs about ourselves. Essentially a no-win scenario. These examples show the types of contradictions within us because of the primal belief we hold about ourselves.
The TA technical term for these beliefs are ‘life scripts’, Freud called them ‘Introjects’. Next up let’s look at their influence in everyday life.