WHAT ARE CORE BELIEFS?
As an adult, you’ll slowly get used to challenging your thinking in different situations. We all have thoughts that cause distress. But what makes some of us mentally stronger compared to other is how we deal with such thoughts. So, the first step is to identity that thought. Later, you’ll replace it with one that is more balanced.
Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done because there will be times when believing the new balanced thought won’t be easy. The old thoughts that we find unhelpful will seem too powerful and that’s okay. There’s an explanation and what you’ll be experiencing is not something new in the medical field.
At the root of your unhelpful thought, there’s a strong core belief that make it seem impossible to let go of whatever’s going on inside your head. What’s a core belief? It’s the very essence of how you see yourself, family, friends, the world, and the future. Core beliefs are normally activated in certain situations. Let’s look at an example:
John has realized that he’s able to challenge his thinking in almost every situation. However, he just realized that when it comes to his workmates and friends, he always finds it difficult challenging some of his thoughts. In such situations, his thinking is all about not being liked. As a matter of fact, when he carefully looks at these thoughts, he realizes that the underlying statement is, “I’ll never be loved.”
Core beliefs like the one we’ve seen above doesn’t just develop in a day or two. It takes time. in fact, researchers found out that such core beliefs start developing at childhood, and through particular life circumstances or experiences of significant life events. An individual will strongly hold onto information that supports the belief, and ignore any evidence that contradicts it, just to maintain it.
For example, John will take in all the negative remarks that come from his workmates or friends and use them to confirm what he already knows – he’ll never be loved. He will misconstrue everything, including neutral statements, to mean they have always been right about what they think about themselves. Over years, this focus will give strength to his core belief and john will never question himself. It will be totally acceptable, and that’s what will make it hard to shake.
Identifying Themes From Thought Diaries
So, how exactly does a person start identifying their core beliefs? You obviously have a Thought Diary, right? Then the first thing that you ought to do is go over it. Look for ‘hot’ thoughts that have a certain patter or common theme. It you pay a close attention, you’ll quickly realize that there’s a theme in a particular column. That’s where you need to place your focus.
Identifying A Core Belief
This process is not that different from the one that we’ve discussed above. Essentially, the idea is to explore the hot thought more, so that you may find out what’s lying underneath all that. You can use questions such as, “What does this say about me?” “Is it that bad?” “If all these things are true about me, what does that mean?”
This process will reveal a lot of things about you, so be prepared for the pain ahead. Sifting through those layers isn’t fun. All you need to know is, when you’re ready to start peeling the layers, it will be the beginning of a new journey.
Challenging Your Core Beliefs
The one question that you need to ask yourself while evaluating and challenging your core beliefs is, “What are some of the experiences that I have gone through that show these beliefs are not completely true?” Take a pen and paper and start listing down all those experiences. Try to be as specific as possible. Also, we would advise you to list down those things that you’re not sure whether they are relevant or not.
After you’re done writing those experiences, develop an alternative core belief. Remember, these experiences are significant in the process because they’ll help you prove your unhelpful core beliefs aren’t always true.
Getting rid of your core beliefs will be difficult because they are things that were built over time. It would be wrong to think they’ll magically disappear in a day or two once you figure out what those underlying issues are. What you need to do, is write down your new and balanced core beliefs on cards, so that you may be able to carry them around and remind yourself of what you’re working for.
Once you’ve developed the beliefs, find a way to follow through on them. They will not only require nurturing, but also “tender love care.’ You could also use some daily affirmations or evidence against the previous unhelpful core beliefs.
Remember, the hard you work for them, the quicker you’ll start believing.
Raquel Soteldo RP(Q), MA, ABA, PMP, CCC