Challenging experientially reinforced negative worldviews through reflection

I was talking to my partner this morning about how cultures differ and lead to characteristic ways of being with others. The culture we grow up in has a huge effect on the way we view the world as the implicit learning from cues around us slowly construct a particular way of generally viewing the world. These general views effect the way we behave. For example, a person who grows up around hostile people will have the possibility of taking on a self-narrative that is similar to the narrative others have ‘fed them’ throughout their life. This then forms a filter to the world that guides us to interpret experiences in a particular way. Direct experiences are the subsequent triggers of an interpretation that is in turn constructed by a succession of prior interpreted experiences that creates a worldview [a lens through which we view the world]. Thus, subjective experience [e.g. interpretations, feelings and perceptions] is ‘chained together’ with one experience reinforcing another.

Because we ‘see through the filter’ of our existing understanding [the lens analogy above], we tend to be limited in our perception by things that we know and have been conditioned to remember through repeated exposure and associate these conditioned perceptions with observable experiences. Therefore, our knowledge and understanding limits our subjective interpretation and experience conditions our worldviews further by seeking confirmatory evidence. Hence someone who has a negative mindset and ‘sees the negative in every situation’ will reinforce further experience with confirmatory interpretations [i.e. they will automatically notice the negative evidence from experience rather than automatically seeing a positive].

Reflection [a non-dominant cognitive process] can help us to stand back from our view of the world and reprocess prior experience [the nuts and bolts of psychodynamic counselling] to rationalise these interpretations in light of alternative perspectives [questioning the assumptions of one’s beliefs]. This can ‘bit by bit’ help to re-focus our worldview in a more self-constructive direction, rather than taking on beliefs that are self-destructive, leading to depression and negative outlooks [seeing the dark in every light patch or the glass half empty].

My flow diagram can help to position reflection as a means of achieving a re/evaluation of prior experiences [i.e. through psychodynamic counselling] to refocus the lens upon which we view the world. I am beginning to see that reflection as a bringing together of ideas to generate new insight has transformative effects on a person that can also alleviate destructive habits of thought and help one to question the assumptions gluing together their identity schemas.

Flow diagram of expereince and beliefs