I have come to understand that we, as adults, are the sum of our beliefs. Everything we do, every decision or choice we make is based on a belief we hold. The clothes we wear, the food we eat, the jobs we hold, the way we raise our children, the way we fight, even the way we love - we do all these things based on beliefs. Beliefs of what we should or shouldn't do, what is good for us, what others expect of us, and most especially what we feel we deserve. I have also come to learn that most of what we believe about ourselves formed in our childhood. While we probably don't even remember most of it, the things we learned, heard, observed or felt formed the foundation for what we are today. Some beliefs serve us well. Believing we will burn our hand if we touch the hot stove is a healthy one. Believing that spending money is bad and that buying unnecessary 'extras' is wasteful and irresponsible, is not a healthy one.
The problem is most of us don't know what our foundational beliefs are. We just know that, for example, every time we want to buy something extra for ourselves, something nice or frivolous or fun, we have anxiety and guilt and end of feeling bad about it. One of the ways to get down to the foundations of who we are is to look at our childhood. Look at what your parents and the adults around you believed and taught you as a child. How was the money handled? Was there enough growing up? What were your parents attitudes about money, the having, the making and the spending of it? How do you handle your money now, and do you see any connections? This is NOT an exercise in blaming our parents! It is just taking a look now, as an adult with a more objective eye, at the beliefs we were raised with. Sometimes the most wonderful and profound connections can be made. For example, my mother used to love to do and make things on her own. From sewing some of my clothes to building our house (yes, my parents literally did this), she did many things with her own hands. I don't know what her exact motivation was, but I didn't always want the 'handmade' product - sometimes I'd wanted the real thing! This, in turn would hurt my mothers feelings, leaving me with the belief that wanting new things was bad, and that if you could do it or make it yourself, you should. Realizing this explains a lot for me! Now I understand where my feelings of guilt and sadness came from at times, when I'd wanted certain things, but denied myself because of how bad just the wanting made me feel. Since getting to the root of this, I have been able to let that go, and now enjoy spending money. I can now have fun deciding exactly how I will use it, and what wonderful things I can bring into my life.
And that is how this work goes. One step at a time, one belief, one choice, one pattern at a time. Once you discover these things, you can then work to let the old, unhealthy beliefs go, and replace them with new ones, ones of your choosing. A belief is nothing more than a thought, and a thought can be changed.