Conditioning and Well-Being

I was not a “bad girl”. I was a young person alone, confused, and trying to feel better.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

A deficiency story or core belief is formed early in life and involves negative judgments about ourselves. Common deficiency stories include “I am unlovable”, “I’m stupid”, “I’m not good enough” or “I’m disgusting”. There is a sense we are inherently damaged. 

Evidence for these beliefs accumulates through experiences. The mechanism of turning against ourselves leads to feelings of loathing, unworthiness, and self-hatred. We incorrectly blame ourselves for harm others did to us. Although we all recognize that major trauma will affect us, these beliefs also form during everyday, ordinary experiences, like being made fun of by a teacher at school, or being left out socially.

When practicing the Kiloby Inquiries, we examine the evidence we have for our core beliefs through adult eyes.

Event: I didn’t read well and my Grade 2 teacher used to make fun of me in class. 

Incorrect conclusion: I’m stupid. I deserved it. I’ll never get it right. I hate to read!

People who abuse us make us feel it is our fault through gaslighting, pretending it is not abuse, or is no big deal. They ask “Can’t you take a joke?” You believe the reason they did it is because there is something wrong with you.

Reframe: That teacher was wrong to make fun of me. I wasn’t stupid, my brain stopped working when she called on me because I was afraid. I was traumatized by the experience. Everyone deserves safety and protection, including me. I had no way at the time to understand this. I do now. I can be kind with myself and be on my own side.

To survive into adulthood, we need the care and protection of our family, teachers and others with authority. When that is not our experience, our survival system responds in predictable ways.

Through working with the Kiloby Inquiries, I was able to see that as a teenager I frequently experienced being shamed and like no one noticed or cared. I realize now that these were experiences; it was not who I was and it was not my fault. I tried to avoid the pain of feeling abandoned through drinking, drugs, and other behaviors. I was not a “bad girl”. I was a young person alone, confused, and trying to feel better. 

How does your early conditioning still play out in your adult life?

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


Radical Recovery Radical Freedom

by Lynn Fraser

Kindness: Antidote to Fear

by Lynn Fraser

I Am Strong!

by Melissa Kalt, MD

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.