I currently have a client who always believes that everyone he knows is against him and that everything he does will result in complete disaster. I don’t wonder why he feels this way – he’s been operating in this way for almost all his life and his parents (primarily his step-father), made sure he always knew when he screwed up. After so long of hearing this, he spent the latter part of his adult life caring little about achievement in school or hard work because it all came with a single thought – I am terrible anyway and anything less than perfect isn’t worthwhile, so why should I even try?
The thing is that, even as this guy is trying his hardest to kick his negative self-image to the curb, that little voice inside his head (and millions of voices outside of it) keep telling him that he’s just a piece if %&$* and that he’ll always be this way.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Negative thought patterns are part of being human. But while negative thoughts can help to keep us realistic and practical, they can also make us feel utterly defeated. Especially when those negative thoughts are directed inwards…
Core beliefs are the most basic assumptions you have about yourself in the world.
These core beliefs often form when you're a child and solidify in adulthood. For example, if the idea instilled in you as a child was that you’re always a failure, then you may fear trying something new because you don't believe you are capable of success as an adult.
Negative beliefs are not helpful in your recovery because it leads to low self-esteem and poor self-image. And oftentimes, these negative self-portrayals can lead to inaction, low motivation or a fear of failure so debilitating that it makes you not act EVEN when you know you should. The good news is, you can change your negative beliefs. It’s not something that happens overnight, but with practice and focus, you can retrain your brain to have positive core beliefs.
First, be present with your current emotions. Don't ignore the messages they bring.
Next, examine the core belief BEHIND the negative emotion. Many times, it's not what happened to you, but what you BELIEVE about what happened to you that stirred the negative emotion in you.
Finally, decide if the core belief currently serves you TODAY---if it doesn't, replace the negative core belief with a more positive one, one that serves you. (Here's a hint: if the emotion you feel about a situation is a negative emotion, then it is backed by a negative core belief!).