Core beliefs influence the development of our attitudes, rules and assumptions.
Attitude – it’s terrible to fail
Rule – Give up if the challenge seems too great
Assumption – if I try to do something difficult I will fail, if I avoid doing it I will be ok
Core beliefs are maintained by a concept called “Confirmatory Bias”, it is the propensity to only accept information that confirms an existing viewpoint- you ignore data that contradicts established beliefs. A way of filtering – you fail to notice or remember events that don’t match how you see yourself or the world, this is a negative core belief system. Our beliefs can hold us hostage, which creates a constant cycle of worry.
As you go through life experiencing the world you unconsciously interpret, judge, feel and figure out what things mean. It’s how we learn to survive in the world. If you had a family who encouraged curiosity, risk, and gave you support and validation your inner monologue is supportive. Individuals with positive core belief systems lack the core beliefs to categorize and record negative experiences. They only recall life data that supports existing, fact based experiences that maps positive views of themselves and the world.
If you have a family where there was low support your inner monologue will be negative reflecting your rules about yourself and the world. Some of the rules that we create through our core belief system become a major source of our anxiety and may take one or more of the following themes:
- The world is not safe
- I have to be perfect or I will be rejected
- I need to read people’s minds and give them what they want or I will be rejected
- No one wants to hear my feelings
- Do not ask for anything, no one wants to give it to you
- Life is unfair, don’t expect too much
Worrying is one of the many symptoms of many anxiety disorders that has been formally defined in the DSM-5.
Here are few steps to explore your core belief system:
- Keep a diary to track your strong emotions such as guilt, depression, anger, anxiety. For example:
Situation: waited for friends and they wasted my time
Monologue: they don’t care about me or respect my time
- Take this and review it with a therapist or a friend and look for themes to explore positive vs negative occurrences and gain an understanding of your core beliefs.
- This will give you the freedom to choose what beliefs you want to accept and what you want to reject.
Author: Mary Haroun, LCSW, LCADC – Footprints to Recovery