First experiences create the mould for future ones with similar emotional signatures but in the context of the age and experience of the person experiencing it.
For example, a four year-old little girl who drops her ice cream in the mud for the first time in her life may experience her first ever feeling of loss and, although seemingly a low-impact event, the consequence may be that she experiences a somewhat serious amount of emotional damage simply because it is the first time she has had this feeling.
For the adult that she will become this could mean future trauma whenever she experiences any type of loss or is afraid she is going to. At that time she may revert to experiencing the extreme feeling she did back when she was a child, in essence reverting back to the four year-old again during the event.
This is one explanation for two separate people experiencing the same event but reacting totally differently to one-another. When you begin to stack one learnt behaviour on top of a series of others, the answer to understanding a particular person’s reasons for acting a certain way or having a particular belief about the world may take quite a lot of unravelling. Perhaps it’s food for thought when we are tempted to judge a book by its cover or, more importantly, when judging ourselves too harshly.
How would our world change if we all took upon ourselves to look beyond the obvious when dealing with others? How much pain and suffering might we be saved from if we forgave ourselves instead of handing out self-punishment?