My very first therapist said something to me that I have written about many times before in the past, in mid conversation he said “well Adam, whatever you believe to be the truth, is the truth for you…” As he carried on talking, a lightbulb switched on in my head and stuck with me ever since.
A favourite author of mine, the late Robert Anton Wilson wrote in Prometheus Rising “what the thinker thinks, the prover proves” meaning that we think a thought and then filter reality to match that thought and thus prove it to be the truth for us. Beliefs do this filtering job incredibly well for us, but not always the most accurately or the most beneficially.
Everyone has their own way of seeing the world, a set of beliefs that shape their outlook on life. These beliefs are what give each of us a unique perspective on life. These same beliefs colour our views about ourselves and how we react to things occurring around us.
These beliefs are what make us the person that we are. Of course, like all things, these beliefs can positively and negatively impact our lives. Knowing what your beliefs are and how they affect your actions is important, especially if you are looking to make changes in your life.
What are Core Beliefs?
So, what are core beliefs? What makes them different from other thoughts that we have? How are they developed? Sometimes core beliefs are your strength, your superpower, and they allow you to take on the world and other times, they can be your downfall, the thing that holds you back from being your best self.
“Our core beliefs are at the very centre of who we are,” they are assumptions that we hold regarding everything from ourselves to the world. Core beliefs are at the centre of your personality. Every thought you have is usually shaped around or an off-shoot of the central beliefs you hold. We use them to judge what is happening around us in the world and the way we view ourselves.
Core beliefs are usually established when we are young, during our childhood years when we are most open to absorbing the things around us, which is why it is so important for children to have a healthy, happy, and supportive environment where they can bring strong, positive core beliefs about themselves and the world. It is also the reason that aspects of our childhood benefit from us understanding why we are as we are.
Your core beliefs can negatively impact your outlook on life. If your core beliefs are rooted in negativity and come from an environment that shaped them negatively, you can have an exceedingly difficult view of life. The problem with core beliefs is that they are self-perpetuating. So having a negative outlook on everything becomes second nature, or automatic.
Additionally, our core beliefs often shape our behaviour patterns and our interactions with people around us. Core beliefs rooted in negativity are likely to lead to poor behaviour patterns like self-doubt, seeking constant approval from others, and attachment issues. It can be hard to imagine that your own beliefs can be harmful to you, but like all things, your core beliefs can be wrong, inaccurate and even harmful to your wellbeing.
It is important to remember that core belief are beliefs, something that is not necessarily a fact and not necessarily true. When you tell yourself something repeatedly, it can be easy to think that it’s true, but that is not always the case. Take for example, someone thinking “everything is my fault” constantly; it is a belief that is untrue; everything can’t be your fault all the time. It is simply not possible, but because this thought has become central to your outlook, you may tend to automatically doubt and blame yourself if something goes awry,
With core beliefs, we are inclined to believe things that fit our narrative, whether that be positive or negative. If your values are rooted in the belief that you always succeed, you are likely to be focused upon your successes. Whereas if your belief is rooted in negative self-doubt and the idea that you are a failure, you may be walking into a self-fulfilling prophecy where very little that you do turns out right or as you want it.
How Do We Form Our Core Beliefs?
Core beliefs often form the voice inside your head, your lifelong companion, but you don’t form this voice yourself. A number of external factors participate in the formation of your internal dialogue. Each of these factors plays a role in developing our core values, our outlook on the world around us and how we see ourselves.
Within the debate over nature vs nurture, when it comes to core beliefs, nurture plays a huge role; as the saying goes, “we can influence nature through nurture”. When we talk about nurture, we mean family, teachers and how we were raised. If you were brought up in a family where your voice was heard, your concerns were addressed, and you had support, you are more likely to have positive core beliefs.
We often inherit beliefs. Where and how you are raised is a key component in building your core beliefs. Children are observant and learn from their environment. The saying about how it takes a village to raise a child is not far off; if you provide a safe and healthy environment for growth, children are more likely to develop healthy core beliefs.
Culture and religion are other factors in building core beliefs. For some people, culture and religion are a huge part of their childhood and depending on the belief systems held in their culture and religion, their core beliefs develop. Depending on what they learn, they will develop core beliefs accordingly, whether they be positive or negative.
However, the largest hand in shaping our core beliefs is what we experience in our lives. The impact of different experiences on our core beliefs can affect our thinking and may even strengthen these beliefs, which can be good or bad depending on what beliefs we hold.
How to Identify Your Core Beliefs?
Your core beliefs are a key part of living a happy life. Not only do they shape your outlook on life, but they also play a key role in how you interact with the people in your life and, most importantly, how you see yourself. Knowing your core values can be key in making changes that may be required to improve your life.
You may find yourself falling into a helpless cycle where you see nothing but negativity around you and in yourself. Your core beliefs can be harmful if you feel worthless, that you are not loveable, that you are incapable of doing anything right. Similarly, holding the belief that other people cannot be trusted or that they do not like you are negative core beliefs.
The more you fall prey to these thoughts, the worse they can become. Poor core beliefs can lead to behaviours that are damaging. You may find yourself becoming anxious trying to please everyone around you or becoming overly attached/ dependant on people in your life. You may feel unable to take your own decisions, and in some cases, people may seek external and problematic ways of masking or numbing negative feelings about themselves (e.g. drugs, alcohol, gambling, relationship dependency etc).
When you constantly feel like everything wrong in your life is your fault and that you are incapable of doing anything right, it can lead to depression and self-loathing. You slip into a cycle of negativity, which can further perpetuate your feelings of inadequacy. This is why it is important to identify what your core beliefs are.
There are a few questions that you can ask yourself that can help you identify whether your core beliefs are rooted in negativity. These questions address your beliefs regarding yourself, your relationships and life. You may not have negative beliefs regarding yourself, but they may be present in your relationships and about life, or vice versa.
Questions About Your Belief in Yourself
When it comes to your beliefs about yourself, you need to think about love and self-esteem. Ask yourself questions about love and whether you feel you deserve love; do you think you have to earn love? Are you a loveable person? You should not feel that love needs to be earned or that you do not deserve to be loved.
Do you find yourself thinking that you are incapable, unworthy, unimportant? Do you often find yourself thinking you don’t fit in, that your opinions are unwanted, that you need to please people? These are all signs of poor core beliefs rooted in negativity. If you find yourself calling yourself dumb, stupid, clumsy, ugly or a bad person, you need to revaluate your core beliefs.
You should not think that you are not respectable, that you do not deserve to enjoy yourself, that you are not smart or competent. These beliefs are harmful and perpetuate a cycle of negativity. These beliefs are all rooted in poor self-esteem.
Questions To Ask About Your Belief in Relationships
Core beliefs don’t just affect how you see yourself, but they also impact how you form relationships with people in your life. Healthy core beliefs lead to healthy relationships, while core beliefs that are negative can lead to harmful relationships to your wellbeing.
Do you think that you are incapable of making a relationship work? Do you believe that it is destined to fail? Do you think you and the other person must enjoy the same things for a relationship to work? Do you feel that if your relationship ends, it reflects you as a person?
Do you feel that you should not ask for more from your relationships? Do you constantly expect people to disappoint you? Are you forming unhealthy attachments where you feel you can not get by without the other person that you need them? If you feel yourself answering yes to the majority of these questions, then it may be time to rethink your core beliefs.
Questions to Ask About Your Life
Do you often find yourself thinking negatively about life and the world around you? Do you think that the world is an overall unhappy place? Do you believe that life is hard and unfair, that the world is not a safe place for anyone? These thoughts are based on a set of core beliefs that are inherently negative.
If you find yourself answering positively to the questions regarding your life, relationships, and self-esteem, then your core beliefs are deeply rooted in negativity. You are so adamant about seeing the bad in yourself, others, and the world around you that you miss all the positivity.
These same thoughts affect your actions and can lead to concerning behaviour patterns and unhealthy relationships, and they can also cause feelings of anxiety and depression. Identifying your core beliefs is the first step in positively changing your thought process.
Here are a couple of articles with wonderful processes that will help you develop your relationship with yourself:
1. How to love yourself more.
2. How to have a better relationship with yourself.
3. Using self-hypnosis to love yourself more.
4. Believe in yourself.
5. Self-acceptance with self-hypnosis.
6. How to develop self-compassion.
How to Update Your Core Beliefs?
After identifying your core beliefs, you may realise that they are doing you more harm than good and that you need to change the way you see yourself, others, and the world around you. It can be scary having your beliefs challenged and difficult to amend beliefs that you have had for a large part of your life, but it is not impossible.
One process that is very similar to the one I use with my hypnotherapy clients is written up here in this article and you can use it to work through your own beliefs (the article is aimed at running, but the same process can be applied to any area of your life): 18 Steps to positive Beliefs.
One evidenced based way that you can make a change in your core beliefs is through the use of Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapy (that I teach at my college) or CBT. Research done into cognitive behaviour therapy has shown it to be effective in changing core beliefs and treating behavioural patterns such as substance abuse and mental health disorders.
In cognitive behaviour therapy, you first need to identify your beliefs, and then your therapist will work with you to help you challenge these beliefs. Why do you think the things that you do, and how accurate are these thoughts compared to reality? This can help you see that your beliefs are not rooted in facts and are simply thoughts that you have.
From this point, your therapist can help you change the way you think by placing positive thoughts in place of your negative thoughts. Instead of thinking, “I can’t do something”, you learn to think “I can do this.” Or identify why you feel you can’t do something and take steps to rectify this thinking, whether that be asking for help or more time.
Your therapist may ask you to keep a journal, a place you can put down your thoughts or write down positive affirmations to remind yourself that you are worthy of love and deserve to be happy. This process takes time and effort, but it is more than worth it.
Core beliefs are the basis of how we experience life, influence the way we form relationships, and of course, how we view ourselves. This is why having negative core beliefs can be problematic to your well-being, but you can change these beliefs and improve your life by making changes in your thinking.
Has this piqued your interest in this field? Then have a read of these pages:
1. Would you like a satisfying and meaningful career as a hypnotherapist helping others? Are you a hypnotherapist looking for stimulating and career enhancing continued professional development and advanced studes? Explore the pages of this website.
Adam Eason’s Anglo European training college.
2. Are you a hypnotherapist looking to fulfil your ambitions or advance your career?
Hypnotherapist Mentoring with Adam Eason.
Likewise, if you’d like to learn more about self-hypnosis, understand the evidence based principles of it from a scientific perspective and learn how to apply it to many areas of your life while having fun and in a safe environment and have the opportunity to test everything you learn, then come and join me for my one day seminar which does all that and more, have a read here: The Science of Self-Hypnosis Seminar. Alternatively, go grab a copy of my Science of self-hypnosis book.