The way we speak to ourselves matters

We can be our harshest critic, often quite brutal in the way we speak to our inner selves. How often do you feel you use ‘if….then…’ thoughts?

If…… I ask anything of anybody, then…… they will think I am needy and I am incapable.
If…… it is not perfect, then…… I am a failure
If….. my colleague didn’t acknowledge me at work today, then…… this means that they don’t like me
If I don’t… say yes to everything….then… people will think I am selfish and no-one will like me

Assumptions and Core Beliefs

‘If…then….’ thoughts are thoughts that run under the surface of our awareness. They have a strong influence on our behaviour, our moods and our physical reactions. They are underlying assumptions, otherwise known as Core Beliefs, which form the rules by which we live our lives. Core Beliefs are strongly-held, rigid and mostly inflexible beliefs that are maintained by our tendency to focus and hone into information that supports this belief, filtering and ignoring information that belies it.

Why do I need to know about my Core Beliefs?

Identifying our core beliefs can help us to understand ourselves better and to allow us the opportunity to ask if these beliefs are helpful to us or not. It gives us the possibility of creating new core beliefs that may work better for us.

For the most part, we are born a blank canvas, pure white with few colours painted on. Through our lives and especially in the formative years of our childhood, teenage and young adult years, colours are painted onto our canvas through the people, environment and experiences that we are exposed to: parents, family, teachers, friends, socio-economic environment, war, famine to name but a few. Through the lens of these colours, we begin our understanding and interpretation of ourselves, other people, the outside world and our future. Some of those colours we welcome, those that fit the values that we feel are true to ourselves. Some of these colours cause us difficulties in the form of anxiety and our sense of self and identity. Often we live our lives, feeling at odds with ourself but not understanding why.

Identifying your Core Beliefs

Reading this article may already have given you an ‘Aha!’ moment. Perhaps ‘if….then…’ word patterns are already familiar to you. Perhaps have patterns that crop up when you socialise, eat, work, relax or study.

Challenging our Core Beliefs and creating new ones.

Practicing alternative thoughts and finding spaces in which to action them allows you the possibility to create change and see life from a different angle. Start small and begin with self-directed kindness and compassion. See if you can test the opposite to a belief which you may feel could be unhelpful to you.

Core Belief:  
If…… I say yes to everything, then…… everyone will know they can rely on me and will want me to be around them.

Challenges to Core Belief:
If…… I say yes to everything, then….. I won’t have time for myself and this will make me unhappy.
If…… I say yes to everything, then…..my unhappiness will affect my partner and my family and they are important to me

Altered Core Belief:

Being a good person means that you also have to be able to know when to say no.
Tiny steps, taken with empathy and self-compassion, can start the path to bigger changes.

sinead@artisan-therapy.com