How to Identify Negative Core Beliefs and challenge them
Changing our behaviors is no easy task; however, when it comes to negative core beliefs, tackling these thought patterns is essential to reducing the emotional distress we can experience from such thoughts. Cognitive restructuring requires dedication and it can be a painful experience as it requires examining your negative thoughts and why you may experience them.
Negative core beliefs impact our thinking patterns and can play a major role in depression, anxiety, managing anger, eating disorders and substance abuse. Typically, they are caused by a difficult past experience that has rooted itself into your thinking. This can affect your health and emotional wellbeing.
Examples of negative core beliefs
There are three types of negative core beliefs: negative beliefs about oneself, about others, and about the world.
Negative core beliefs about oneself
- “I am worthless.”
- “I am a failure.”
- “I am unlovable.”
- “I am useless.”
Negative core beliefs about others
- “People only hurt me.”
- “People can’t be trusted.”
- “People are terrible.”
Negative core beliefs about the world
- “The world is a dangerous place.”
- “The world is ruined.”
- “The world is unfair.”
You’ll notice that negative core beliefs are not situation specific; they are generic thoughts and phrases that are triggered by certain instances. However, these thoughts will typically be connected to specific situations such as personal and intimate relationships and possibly general interactions with the public and work.
For instance, if a person has been treated terribly in a past relationship, they may link their next relationship with thoughts of worthlessness or the fact that people cannot be trusted. These negative core beliefs are self-sustaining in the fact that the person will look for things that support their self-fulfilling prophecies and negative core beliefs. Any information that may prove them wrong is usually ignored and overshadowed by their negative thoughts or what therapists call cognitive dissonance.
How to identify negative core beliefs
Firstly, you will need to notice whether you have themes in your thinking. You can identify by recognizing when your anger is triggered. You can do this by remaining mindful when negative core beliefs are activated – Become aware of when they appear.
For instance, is it a certain environment such as work or at home that causes you to think negatively? Or is it your partner or a certain family member?
Determining “Why” you think these negative thoughts is the only way to beat them. However, it is difficult for us to remain impartial when it comes to analyzing your thought patterns, which is why finding help from a professional can be the best way to identify our negative core beliefs. You will always recognize when your negative core beliefs appear is when you have taken it personally and you have made it about you. If you recognize that you have taken it personally then the question you can ask yourself is “What have I made this situation or comment mean to me?”, and use that as an opportunity to identify your negative core belief. Once you have identified your negative core belief, you can investigate if there is any evidence that suggests that you are, for example: “A failure, useless or unlovable”. Once you recognize that none of the above are true, you can then change the negative messages you send yourself to positive affirmation. Such as: “I am not a failure, I am a huge success”. Or, “I am not useless, I am incredibly useful and am able to do many things”.
By affirming yourself eventually these negative core beliefs will start to diminish and disappear, and you will find that you will be less reactionary to how others behave towards you.
It is crucial to get help when it comes to negative core beliefs. These ways of thinking are not only damaging to your mental health and self-esteem, but such thoughts can ruin relationships
Feeding negative thoughts will only increase your feelings anger, depression and anxiety, so speaking with a professional is the best course of action. Here at BAAM we teach people how not to take things personally and how to practically challenge them as and when they get triggered. Our programmes can help you change these thought patterns for good and improve your quality of life and, in doing so, manage your anger more effectively.
Remember anger does not disappear unless you actually do something about it. We are here to help transform your relationship to anger.
Visit our homepage www.angermanage.co.uk for details of our courses.