by Jade Caswell, Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern
Have you ever found yourself trapped in destructive behavior patterns or unable to get
what you really want out of life? Negative core beliefs may be getting in the way. By definition,
core beliefs are deeply held assumptions that guide our behavior, how we see ourselves and
perceive the world. For instance, if we hold the core belief that we are boring and unattractive,
we may never have the confidence to try to meet new people or progress in our career.
Because core beliefs shape how we see ourselves and the world, we may ignore any evidence
that is contrary to them, and only accept information that sustains these negative core beliefs.
Core beliefs are often formed early in life, and develop in response to a person's experiences.
For example, if an individual's childhood caregivers did not attend to their needs, they may
form the belief that they are 'unlovable'; or that the world is a 'dangerous place'; Carrying these
beliefs may inform future life choices. Core beliefs may additionally contribute to negative
automatic thoughts, or thoughts that pop into our heads in response to a trigger. If we hold
negative core beliefs, chances are our automatic thoughts will also be negative. Core beliefs
may sound fixed and unchangeable, but the good news is that we can change these negative
core beliefs using principles of cognitive behavioral therapy.
The first step to changing negative core beliefs, is first identifying them. This may look
like identify patterns of thinking, or fixed patterns of thinking about yourself, others or the
world. Look for absolute, rigid or; black and white thinking. Once you identify your negative
core beliefs, it may be helpful to look at areas of your life where these beliefs may be limiting
you, or holding you back from achieving your goals. It can also be beneficial to look at past
successes, or evidence you have against these negative core beliefs. As mentioned previously,
core beliefs tend to cause us to filter out any information that doesn't support them. We can
take back control by looking at positives or successes we may have had that directly challenge
our negative core beliefs. Additionally, using personal affirmations that are directly opposed to
our negative core beliefs can be helpful in changing them. For instance, if we hold the negative
core belief that we are 'worthless'; we may practice an affirmation such, "I am enough as I am";
These are just a few ways that negative core beliefs may be challenged. Participating in
psychotherapy can also be beneficial, as your therapist can help you explore, uncover, and
further challenging these negative core beliefs that keep us stuck. Call our office today to set up an