This week, we are talking about how powerful our thoughts can be in influencing how we feel-- about ourselves and the situations that we encounter every day. Previously, we talked about when you are in a situation, you will have automatic thoughts about it (Tuesday's blog). These thoughts could lead you into a negative place, thus a negative mood. After identifying the thought, it is important to look at the evidence that supports or does not support your thought (Wednesday's blog). Thursday we talked about creating an alternative thought based on the evidence you have provided yourself. Today, we will talk about recognizing our core belief and how to change the core belief to something that helps us feel better about ourselves.
First, let's talk about core beliefs. Core beliefs are those beliefs we learn about ourselves that aren't true. Perhaps they come from our family growing up and were things someone told us about ourselves. Or, perhaps they are things that we learned to believe about who we are that we never learned to challenge, so we just accepted that they are true. Either way, learning to identify our core beliefs about ourselves is very important to be able to change them. If our core belief is negative, our thoughts about a situation will be negative, too. We can't change our thoughts if what we say to ourselves ABOUT ourselves is negative!
Using the example from Monday's blog, Patty might be basing her automatic thoughts on the faulty core beliefs, such as "I am not a loveable or likeable person", or "People don't want to be around me because they don't like me", or "I always do things to push people away".
To change these core beliefs, first she must recognize what they are. She might ask herself "What am I saying to myself, about myself?" After finding out what her core beliefs are, she must then ask herself where is the evidence against that core belief being true?
For example, to change the core belief of "I'm not a loveable person", she would ask herself where the evidence is to support that belief. She might think to herself "I do have a lot of people who call me and want to do things with me", and change the core belief to "I AM a likeable and loveable person". For the core belief "I always do things to push people away", she would look for the evidence against that belief. Perhaps she might find that just last week, Jenny asked her to go to lunch, which would go against the core belief she was supporting. This might help her change her core belief to "I sometimes make mistakes, but that is OK. That is how I learn, and generally, others are still accepting of me".
Changing our core beliefs is what helps us feel better about not just the current situation, but who we are as a person. It helps to combat shame based thinking and raise self-esteem and self-worth.
For more information on this week's blog topic, check out the book "Mind Over Mood" by Greenberger and Padesky -- and start working on your thought processes and how they are affecting your day-to-day life!
Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling. Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.