But the inevitable accidents of our imperfect lives and our own unique circumstances often condition little children to impede their emotions - to be fearful of being just who we are. We need to be loved and taken care of, so we are totally dependent on the messages we get from others. We learn what we see.
As we grow, we adopt self-protective habits of thinking and being that begin to shape our "personality". These old habits of self protection are called defense mechanisms - they're simply strategies that children adopt to cope with all of the things and feelings that they fear. For good and for ill, these habits start to shape, and ultimately to control, our interactions with others. The habits actually are limiting us from expressing our true nature, our authentic selves. We get stuck in stereotypical interactions that make us unhappy.
Today, we know that the brain is plastic - it can change and grow. We can actually DECIDE now to change our learned dysfunctional habits. To be happier with ourselves and our lives, we need to stop clinging to old misbeliefs that make us unhappy. Our old defense mechanisms are just accidents of our history, not our true nature.
Psychotherapy helps us take stock, slow down and reexamine, and ultimately discard the old habits that no longer make sense in our lives today, or serve us well as adults. We can choose to let them go and be free once again to experience joy. The past is over! We no longer have to feel and behave like fearful, dependent children. Being happier is a decision we can make today.