Sleeping in the fetal position has provided me a sense of comfort through lonely nights as a child. My older brother took note of this behavior and fabricated a story of how one becomes a hunchback. He assured me that if I continued sleeping in the fetal position, I would eventually wake up one morning with a knot the size of a bowling ball between my shoulders. Visualizations of scoliosis-plagued spinsters whirled through my brain at bedtime. Struggling to sleep in a ramrod straight position, like Sleeping Beauty, I awoke disappointed that I could not sleep on my back. My fate would be that of the decrepit hunched creature, Tolkien’s Gollum, exclaiming, “My preeeciooouuus.” This myth dispelled itself once I overheard my brothers chuckling about my misperception. When you recollect on your childhood days, do you immediately recall any comical misperceptions?
Other more serious misperceptions are subtle teachings that we cannot quite fathom in a childlike frame of mind. For instance, parents could be heatedly blaming God for a negative occurrence. As youngsters, we could misinterpret this burst of indignation as a tell-tale sign that God is a mean, angry Being. He is not to be trusted. Overhearing adult conversations can instill terror in children.
When we grow into teenagers or young adults, we often do not recognize these childhood misperceptions have integrated themselves into our decision-making. Though they were consciously dispelled through our pubescent logic, the mistaken beliefs are perpetrated through the subconscious mind. As a result, young people are prone to periods of self-evaluation, colloquially termed, “finding themselves.” Some youngsters experience this process as a slow, slight awakening to the realization of our true self. For others, this endeavor requires testing every truth dictated to us through infancy to puberty.
As uncomfortable as this transition may be for parents and mentors, they often choose to tamper with the fragile exploration process. Not only does this hinder progress, but it also confuses us while we rationalize and erect our belief system. Misperceptions are best faced alone with information and self-examination for introverts. Extroverts typically prefer to discuss issues with a few trusted, non-judgmental confidants. At one time in our lives, we will all have experienced this occurrence, whether at age fifteen or forty-five.
Are you are currently embarking upon this journey yourself? Be patient with yourself while you work through your sticking points. Rewarding discovery awaits.
Are you observing someone you love struggle through this self-revelation? Distance yourself from direct meddling. Be available if recruited for consultation. Patience is key. If you have a story to tell, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.