Have you ever paid attention to your ‘self-talk’? What words do you use when you have that internal conversation with yourself? Are the words that you use to describe yourself largely negative or positive? Do you focus mainly on your failures or do you celebrate your achievements?
A substantial part of our self-talk consists of core beliefs that are dictating our lives and guiding our behaviour. Core beliefs are thoughts and assumptions that we hold about ourselves, others and the world around us and they are formed in the early years of our lives.
Everybody has core beliefs, either positive or negative. A core belief is always an ‘I’ statement, as in, ‘I am ugly’, ‘I am not good enough’, ’I am a failure’, ‘I am smart’. This deeply rooted core beliefs often go unrecognized, despite them having a huge impact on our success and satisfaction with life and relationships. Moreover, it is predominantly the negative core beliefs that hold us back as they affect our self- esteem and confidence and the fact that they are being inaccurate reduces people’s chances of leading a happy and fulfilled life.
Core beliefs feel real and we accept them without question. They are self-sustaining in a way as they cause us to focus on information that supports our beliefs and ignore the evidence that contradicts them which makes them difficult to change. For instance, if your core belief is ‘I am worthless’, you might interpret any ambiguous information in a manner which allows this core belief to be supported and ignore any positive evidence which might contradict your belief of being worthless.
It is of paramount importance to identify your core beliefs and understand why you formed them in the first place. For example, imagine being the youngest of three siblings and your behaviour and your achievements being compared to your siblings. If that happened often you may have developed a belief that you were not good enough and that everyone is better than you.
Once you have identified core beliefs that affect you in a negative way you need to challenge the value your assumptions and beliefs have and what impact they have on your life. Challenging them could not only help you change your feelings, but also transform your approach to life. Furthermore, identifying the connection between your core beliefs and your feelings will help you to take a step back and look at things in a different way.
Identifying and challenging your core beliefs takes time and practice, however, by asking yourself questions, such as ‘What experiences do I have that show that the opposite might be true? Am I jumping to negative conclusions? Are there any other ways that I could look at this situation?’, might help you change your point of view and consequently this new perspective will allow you to change your core belief.