Throughout childhood, a great deal happens to us and around us. We pack these memories away inside of ourselves as stories that help define who we are. These stories become our beliefs. We act and feel according to our beliefs.
Our inner make-up reveals the connection between all these different beliefs and our soul’s purpose. It’s fascinating to look at the contents of our stories in order to reveal our beliefs and gain a greater understanding of who ‘we’ are.
The combination of our personal process and our life’s task compose our soul’s purpose. The stories of things that happen to us or around us match the personal process we want to achieve. These stories make our issues clearer for us. We are able to free the gifts specific to our developmental stage. These gifts strengthen the unique life task that we have to fulfil for the world.
In this article, we will explore our inner make-up through our childhood development. I will show you five developmental stages that we all go through and connect each of these stages with its unique beliefs. The stories that underlie each belief are unique for each of us.
Developmental Stage 1: the need for safety and security
This stage lasts from our stay in the womb until the age of 6 months. As a baby we need the safety and security that we get through bonding with our primary caregiver and from having our basic physiological needs met – food, warmth, comfort, rest.
The experience of unmet physiological needs creates a lack of safety and a feeling of insecurity. These are the beliefs we harvest:
- “I’m not wanted.”
- “Life is unsafe and harsh.”
- “I have no right to exist.”
As adults we still have a part of us that defines itself through these beliefs and their underlying stories.
In order for this part of us to grow, we need to be able to create that safety and security inside of ourselves. When we have achieved this, our stories can then change.
We enter this physical realm as spiritual beings, and it is hard for us to adjust to our physical bodies. When our spiritual Self feels safe, it is able to incarnate. Then, our gift can surface as an ‘embodied spirituality’. This is a connection with the spiritual world that is lived through our body. We are able to live the sacredness in our daily lives.
Developmental Stage 2: the need for approval and recognition
From the age of six months until the age of two, we start to develop a sense of self. As a young child, we discern our sense of self by exploring what we like and dislike.
When we experience a lack of approval and recognition at this age, it creates insecurity about our likes and dislikes and therefore about our sense of self. At this stage, we collect beliefs and associated stories about humiliation and shame:
- “I will be humiliated.”
- “I am evil.”
- “I am not important.”
- “I will be ashamed.”
As an adult there is still a part of us that is defined by these stories as long as we, consciously or unconsciously, seek approval. When we allow this part to find recognition from within ourselves, we are ready to allow our stories to shift automatically. We begin to enjoy our own company. Our gift becomes pleasure, sensuality and life force. We radiate aliveness. Our pleasure is inspiring.
Developmental Stage 3: the need for control and power
Between the ages of two and six we develop our ego and, as our ego begins to relate to our sense of self, we learn to make sense of ‘who’ we are.
During this stage we explore our inner authority and strength.
There is a natural need at this stage to control the environment and exert power over others – and if we don’t, we feel powerless. Because of this dynamic, we gather beliefs and stories that define a part of us that either experiences feelings of self-importance or worthlessness:
- “I need to be perfect in order to be in control.”
- “I am powerless.”
- “I am superior.”
In adulthood this power dynamic continues to pop up. This young part of us can grow when the older ‘us’ holds space for it to experience its inner strength. Our gift becomes a balanced inner authority. We no longer rely on an authority outside of us. We are able to fight with grace for what is really important to us.
Developmental Stage 4: the need to give and receive love
Between six and twelve years old we move into relationships with other human beings. As adolescents we engage in an amazingly rich palette of relationships.
These relationships are exquisite tools through which we can explore our stories. Other human beings reflect back to us our beauty and our challenges. We learn through those relationships and we can get hurt and feel rejected.
Our beliefs and the underlying stories we collect at this stage are related to betrayal and distrust:
- “I am unlovable.”
- “If I love, I will be hurt and rejected.”
- “It is safer to stay on my own.”
As adults, we still carry this adolescent part within us when we are afraid of being hurt and consequently hesitate to reach out and connect with others.
When the older ‘us’ is able to deeply love and accept this insecure part of us, it is able to grow, thus enabling its gift for the world – love and compassion, real contact and undefended moving out towards the other.
Developmental Stage 5: the need to speak our truth
From the age of twelve onwards we start to express our truth which is the result of an inner process of assimilation and integration. This unique truth is how we express our unique quality in the world.
We ask ourselves how our truth will be received by our family and peers. Sometimes what we hear back from our family and peers does not resonate with what we know to be true.
We collect beliefs and stories of how we block our creative expression and hide our truth:
- “My truth is not okay.”
- “If I share I will be humiliated.”
- “My inner truth does not fit with what is happening around me.”
As an adult, this part of us has difficulties creatively expressing and making sense of what is happening around us. We must hold space for this part to learn to trust.
Our gift, at this stage, is our ability to assimilate and integrate what we perceive and to take responsibility for our stories.
‘We’ are a wonderful resource. We are amazingly sophisticated human beings and each of us is a kaleidoscope of unfinished business, partly integrated steps and amazing gifts.
As we move through our childhood a part of us moves on to the next step while, at the same time, another part is very often defined through the beliefs and stories that belong to the previous stage.
Each of these five developmental steps focuses on a specific need. Our experiences of unmet needs are the stories that we gather at each stage and, as adults we learn to gently and lovingly care for these younger parts of ourselves. When we are able to hold space for the needs of those younger parts, they are able to show us the gifts they bring to the world.
Our unmet needs connect us with our soul’s purpose; they are the basis for our personal process and become gifts that are able to strengthen our specific life task in this world. These gifts are related with our developmental stages.
My book Becoming What is Changing: Exposition looks at our inner make-up in more detail. In it, I offer you maps to unravel your personal process and your personality.
I hope this article has helped you gain insight into the magic of ‘you’ and your amazing soul’s purpose. Please leave any thoughts, insights or reflections in the comments box.
Veerle de Bock
10th December 2013
VEERLE DE BOCK is a physician, healer, facilitator, trainer, coach and author of the trilogy, Becoming What is Changing. She spent nearly three decades of her life as a physician specializing in geriatric care, including a 21-year career as department head in an Antwerp regional hospital. In 2003, she began her study as an energetic healer, teacher, process facilitator and supervisor at the Barbara Brennan School of Healing and, since 2007 has helped many trainees to master these same skills. In 2010 she was trained in the practice of Dynamic Facilitation by Jim Rough, which she now incorporates into her workshops and training sessions. In 2012 she decided to devote her work exclusively to writing, facilitation and coaching. That same year, she devised a new integrative practice of facilitation she calls ‘Guest House Facilitation’ that helps teams learn how to listen and utilise both the inner and outer processes within their organisation, to see it as a dynamic and living organism, and to reconnect to its intrinsic purpose and intention. Her book, Becoming What is Changing: Exposition, is the first part of a trilogy aimed at managers, team leaders and responsible employees who wish to bring this kind of transformation into the workplace, so they can create an environment where people are happy, satisfied and continuously growing.
Contact Veerle about the book, or to discuss coaching/facilitation for your organisation at: