Without us consciously realizing it, our core beliefs play a large role in our lives. Core beliefs are deeply rooted beliefs or assumptions that individuals hold about themselves, others, and the world.
Sometimes our core beliefs are factually correct, but often they are not. Whether true or false, they shape our views and impact our behaviors. They are developed early in life and profoundly shape how we perceive, think, and behave, we may not even be aware of their influence. Negative core beliefs can lead us to think poorly of ourselves, our lives, and the world around us.
Fortunately, recognizing your own negative core beliefs can help you shift them into a more positive perspective. We’ll examine harmful core beliefs that may be negatively impacting your life, how they may have developed, and what you can do about them.
Common Harmful Core Beliefs
There are many core beliefs that are harmful to our lives. Negative core beliefs are often formed as a result of specific events or consistent patterns that negatively affect an individual. These beliefs become engrained without much conscious thought or action. Here are examples of some harmful core beliefs.
- I’m a failure: This belief involves feeling inherently defective or unworthy as a person when it comes to multiple aspects of life such as work, relationships, or personal achievements.
- I’m not worthy of love or able to be loved: This belief manifests as a conviction that one is undeserving of love, affection, or healthy relationships.
- I feel alone: This belief may lead you to disconnect or isolate yourself from other people.
- I’m a burden: This belief evolves around the idea that one is a burden to others, whether emotionally, financially, or in any other way.
If you don’t resonate with these beliefs, that doesn’t mean you’re free of negative core beliefs. Just about any seemingly negative occurrence that someone experiences as they grow up can lead to a negative core belief.
Consequences of Harmful Core Beliefs
As you may expect, your negative core beliefs can negatively influence your life. They can influence our thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and overall well-being, when we hold negative core beliefs about ourselves, others, or the world around us, they become like invisible filters through which we interpret our experiences.
Negative core beliefs can make you feel unworthy of having a good life. At times, a constant inner dialogue is created full of negative thoughts, self-criticism, and a persistent sense of not being good enough. In turn, negative core beliefs contribute to negative emotions such as sadness, anxiety, anger, or shame which can make it difficult to experience positive emotions.
When we hold negative core beliefs about ourselves, others, or the world around us, they become like invisible filters through which we interpret our experiences.
Your negative core beliefs can impact any and all areas of your life. They can even make you prone to issues such as eating disorders.1 Jones says the repercussions can span your emotional life, your ability to make sound decisions, relationships, and more.
They can fuel insecurities, trust issues, and a fear of rejection or abandonment. They can hinder the ability to make decisions and take risks due to the fear of failure or the belief that one is incapable.” He tells us they can limit your potential, personal goals, and ability to pursue meaningful opportunities.
How Do Core Beliefs Develop?
Our core beliefs are developed through our life experiences. These occur when you are a child and continue through when you’re an adult. As we grow, we review the experiences we have and establish beliefs about our own selves in response to them. This begins in childhood, but it also continues throughout life, even though by adulthood, the chances are that our core beliefs are beginning to shape our worldview and our lives.
If you experience symptoms of negative core beliefs, such as self-sabotage, avoidance and withdrawal, perfectionism, people-pleasing, overcompensation, and fear of taking risks, you may be holding them and viewing the world through them.
Ways to Identify Core Beliefs
Even though we can’t avoid having negative core beliefs, we can take action to transform them. The first step for that is identifying them. Jones says that this requires self-reflection and introspection.
Take the following steps:
- Pay attention to recurring patterns in your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors
- Reflect on your automatic reactions and self-perception.
- Examine how past experiences shape your beliefs.
- Observe behavioral patterns and seek feedback from trusted individuals.
While you can undertake this on your own, you don’t have to. Therapy can help the process. Engaging in some sort of therapy or mental health treatment can open the door to a better understanding of core beliefs. By gaining awareness of your core beliefs, you can embark on a transformative path toward personal growth and empowerment.
How to Deal With Negative Core Beliefs
Once you have identified your negative core beliefs, you may become overwhelmed at the idea of dealing with them. The first step is to understand that change is possible. It is absolutely possible to change negative core beliefs into more positive ones. While core beliefs are deeply engrained, they are not fixed or unchangeable.
Performing the emotional work necessary to change them may take time. When you do that work, individuals can challenge and reframe their negative core beliefs, fostering more positive and empowering perspectives.
Challenging and changing your negative core beliefs isn’t one size fits all. I recommend any of the following:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Mindfulness techniques
- Self-compassion practices
- Positive affirmations
Mindfulness can improve your life in regard to core beliefs, as well as in general. To practice mindfulness to change your core beliefs,I suggests:
- Be open and curious about your thoughts and emotions
- Practice self-reflection, during which you “observe your internal dialogue and notice any recurring patterns or self-limiting beliefs that arise”
- Practice non-judgment by acknowledging these beliefs but without attaching value to them
- Try mindfulness meditation or other mindfulness practices to enhance your sense of self-