We have an undeveloped brain until we reach the age of about 19 to 21. The last parts of our brain to fully develop are our frontal lobes. These lobes house our capacity for rational thinking, allowing us a broader perspective on the world. Prior to age 21, we are predominantly driven by our old brain, which is totally immersed in all-or-nothing thinking. When we experience situations as children, for example; rejection, punishment, lack of interest or verbal, physical, emotional and sexual abuse, our old brain tells us we are in danger, and we go into flight or fight mode.
However, since we can’t very well fight (until we are older) or leave the situation as dependent children, we must find a way to deal with it that best meets our fundamental needs for security and approval. We make it about us and in order to feel some degree of control and safety in our environment, we also use the coping strategy of going within. This means there is no one left to challenge those old thoughts and stories you’ve told yourself. Your old brain told you a story to make sense of a situation as best it could, and now, many years later, you are still living as though this story were true.