What are Core Beliefs that drive our behaviours and emotions? How does Cognitive Therapy deal with them?
Core beliefs are the very essence of how we see about ourselves, about others and the world. Sometimes these core beliefs become triggered in certain situations. Example
Reshma tries very hard to score good grades in her exams, but she thinks that she is going to fail or get low grades which prevents her from getting admission in a good course and college. This thought makes her feel insecure and doubtful towards herself. “I am not good enough to succeed”
Core beliefs such as the one from the above example, develop over time, usually from childhood and through the experience of significant life events or particular life circumstances.
Core beliefs are strongly held, rigid and inflexible beliefs that are maintained by the tendency to focus on information that supports the belief and ignoring evidence that contradicts it. Example
From the above example Reshma believes that she is gonna either fail or get low grades even though she studies hard. The core belief here is ‘l am not confident’.
It’s so important to identify your core beliefs. It helps you to start making the connection between your beliefs and how you’re feeling. It gives you an opportunity to take a step back and look at the situation in a different way.
To discover your core beliefs you can try to write down the views you have about yourself, about others and the world.
We can change our negative core beliefs in a positive way. How can we do that? It can be done through modifying our thoughts and behaviour. The belief ‘I am not confident’ can be changed into a positive thought by reversing it. Example
When Reshma writes about her thoughts and feelings she identifies her core belief is ‘lack of self confidence’. She then tries to reverse or modify her thoughts by saying good grades doesn't always mean success. There are people out there who have been successful in life without scoring good grades. She also convinces herself saying good grades don't equate to intelligence. She starts to trust her hard work and try to be positive on the outcomes.
It’s not easy to identify and analyse your core beliefs, but by doing this it will be helpful if you want to remove the cause of negative and inaccurate thought patterns. Working with a therapist who has been trained in CBT techniques will help you unlock negative core beliefs that are holding you back.
You can also try to practice positive thoughts as to what you would like to believe. This is part of the process of developing a self narrative that is helpful to you. For instance, despite your current situation, you can tell yourself “I am always trying to do the best I can under the circumstances. I am courageous to have come this far and have the will to do better in future”.
Practicing affirmations makes them real in your life and reverses a negative inner state.
Examples of negative core beliefs and how we implement them in our lives.