What are Core Beliefs?
Core beliefs are things you believe to be true about yourself, others or the world around you, in spite of the fact they may be completely false.
They usually stem from childhood. For example if you didn’t receive nurturing from your care givers, you may have developed the core belief that you are not loveable. If you had an emotionally abusive childhood you may have received messages either directly or indirectly, things like ‘you are stupid’, ‘you can’t you do anything right?’ or similar.
Because we are so impressionable as a young child, we can not comprehend that others say these things to us not because they are true, but because of their own issues. These repeating negative messages get embedded in to our own beliefs. We then often carry them into adulthood, believing them to be true.
We then look for supporting ‘evidence’ that they are true, from what peers, friends, relatives, colleagues or strangers say or do to us. We often latch on to the ones that back up our negative core beliefs and tend to ignore the rest. So if you have a core belief that you are unattractive and someone tells you that you are beautiful, you instantly dismiss it. You may think that person is either being false or is disillusioned.
The Affects of Your Core Beliefs
Negative core beliefs affect every area of your life, your work, your relationships, your mental health and what you believe you can achieve in life. But most of all it affects the relationship you have with yourself in a negative and very limiting way.
How to Change Your Core Beliefs
First know that you can change your negative core beliefs, you have the ability now because you are an adult. It is not going to be easy. You have to put the work in to eliminate them and replace with positive ones. Do you want to work on this? Yes? then carry on reading.
Here are 5 Steps to Changing Your Core Beliefs:
Step 1: Identify what your core beliefs are
You need to know what you are working with before you start reframing your core beliefs. Think of those little negative (almost automatic) thoughts that pop into your head, especially if someone triggers something in you. If you have a core belief that you are stupid, even hearing that word may trigger you. Even when no-one is referring to you as stupid, because it will ‘touch a nerve’ and is likely to stir negative internal feelings if it is a core belief of yours.
Though, sometimes your core beliefs are not that obvious. If you’re struggling, then think about your behaviours or patterns in your life. Do you find it difficult to sustain an intimate relationship? If so, you may have a core belief that you are unloveable.
The list below includes some of the most common core beliefs, use it as a prompt if you need to in order to identify yours:
- I am unloveable / I am not good enough
- I am unattractive / ugly
- I am stupid
- There is something wrong with me
- I am different / I don’t fit in
- The world is a dangerous place
Step 2: Where did each belief come from?
This can be difficult to do, but try to think of times in your life when someone said (or did) something that did not make you feel good. In particular, go back as far as you can in childhood. Do you remember a time when you felt hurt or sad? What was your hurt or sadness a result of?
Identifying where each belief comes from can help you in disputing your evidence. Did someone tell you that you was stupid? What was the context? Where they angry at the time? Consider that this person had their own issues or may have actually believed that they were stupid and projected this onto you to make themselves feel superior or better. This is more common than you think.
Step 3: Look for evidence that rejects your core beliefs
Look for evidence throughout your whole life that challenges each core belief you have.
Sometimes ‘finding’ evidence can take time, you may need to have a think and revisit your core beliefs, because they are so ingrained in your subconscious that you may automatically think that there is no evidence. But delve deeper, trust me there will be evidence.
If one of your core beliefs is that you are unloveable, have you never been loved? ever? Of course you have, and I guarantee there will be or have been people that have loved you and may still love you, that you weren’t even aware of.
Let me tell you this, everyone is loveable, everyone, even miserable grumpy old men have been loved, so don’t sit there and tell me you are unloveable!
Step 4: Reframing Your Core Beliefs
Now you have the evidence, all you have to do is create a new core belief that reframes your current core belief. Now that you know your core beliefs have been false all of your life, this is the easy bit, you just reframe them. It’s embedding your new core beliefs that will take time and consistent effort, see step 5.
Reframing your core beliefs is as simple as this:
- I am unloveable becomes I am loveable
- I am stupid becomes I am smart
- I am unattractive becomes I am beautiful
- I am weak becomes I am strong
- and so on ……..
Just look for the opposite of your core belief, use words that you would normally use, not someone else’s. If you would never use the word ‘smart’ use one you would use ‘intelligent’ ‘clever’ etc.
Now know this, you will not instantly believe your new core beliefs. But Step 5 shows you how you can come to believe and embed them. Until they become a given and not up for negotiation ever! Even if someone calls you stupid, you won’t even take it personally because you will know you are not.
Step 5: Affirmations
Now you know what your new core beliefs are, you have to repeat them in your head, over and over. Do it daily, when you have a minute, tell yourself your new core belief. Most importantly, try to feel what it is like to be ‘loveable’ or ‘smart’ or ‘strong’.
If an old core belief pops in your head such as I am unloveable, dispute it, say ‘no I’m not, I am loveable’, be strong and firm. This will over time weaken your old core belief until it leaves your head forever.
Some people set timers on their phone every so often throughout the day with notifications of their new core beliefs. This acts as a reminder to read and repeat those affirmations. You could also put little messages around your home to remind you, a post-it on your bathroom mirror telling you ‘you are beautiful’, that should put a smile on your face.
Keep repeating those affirmations to yourself on a daily basis. Over time your core beliefs will change to the point where you won’t need to keep telling yourself you are loveable, because you belief at your core that you are!