Faulty Core Beliefs can hold us captive in our own lives. They occur when we internalize the lies that are told when we feel shame. We begin to develop a system of false beliefs about our identities.
Everyone has shame, it is universal.
I define shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection. ~Brene Brown
As young children our brains are like sponges, they try to soak in everything that is happening around us. As the years pass, we develop our opinions and view points based on the information we have gathered. If we grow up in an environment where shame is used to keep order and control the information gets skewed and we develop faulty core beliefs.
As a child, I remember lots of anger and harsh consequences when I made a mistake. We had an additional child named, ‘Not ME’ that lived at our house. He existed because it was not safe to make mistakes in my home. My parents did not seem to care that the mistake really was an accident, there was not compassion for accidents and childhood errors.
I developed several beliefs about myself that have plagued me my entire life. Here I will discuss two of the beliefs.
- If I make a mistake, I am bad!
- I am not loveable as I am!
I took my parent’s anger during these times and my undeveloped brain linked their behavior to my worthiness. I worked tirelessly to ‘just do it better’ and ‘to not make mistakes’, I didn’t want to be bad and unlovable. Unfortunately no matter how hard I tried I still made mistakes, and because I couldn’t change who I was I was unlovable and bad.
It wasn’t until 2013 that a counselor helped me to begin recognizing and staring these lies in the face.
As I began facing these lies, life became lighter and easier. I had to tell myself over and over again every time I made a mistake that I was okay, and that mistakes were just opportunities for learning.
Steps to fighting faulty core beliefs:
Step 1: Identification
Identifying these beliefs is like solving a mystery. The clues are often buried deep in our subconscious, and most of the time several beliefs are grouped together.
To identify our beliefs we have to look beyond the thoughts that we think. We have to peel off that layer! Then next we have to look past what others think of us, this is another layer. Here is an example of how to peel off the layers to find truth:
First Core Belief: If someone else tells us we are a liar we believe it must be true.
Second Core Belief: We believe we are a liar.
Third Belief: If someone believes we are truthful, then we are truthful.
This means that: Whatever someone believes about us is what we are.
Fourth False Belief: is we think that what other people think of us will emotionally hurt us.
This is a false assumption, the brain uses this to generate fear of emotional pain. Thoughts in another person’s head can’t hurt us and they don’t determine our emotions. Reality: What we believe about ourselves determines how we feel.
The Fifth False Belief: is that we can read someone else’s mind and know what they think of us.
Step 2: Awareness
After peeling off these layers, the next step is awareness. This comes by being able to put SHAME triggers into words. I began noticing that when I made a mistake I felt really bad about myself. Not just sad that the mistake may have hurt someone, it was deeper. I felt like I was a bad person. After I recognized this I started to watch for frequency. Each time I made a mistake I noticed the same piercing thought, ‘I was bad!’
I wanted to identify as many faulty beliefs as I could, so I replayed events from the past that had been very painful to me. This is a glimpse of what I found:
|I was not a good reader in third grade. I had a teacher that shamed me and yelled at me.||I am stupid.|
|I lost track of time and missed my curfew. I was 15 minutes late. My mother yelled at me and slapped me in front of my friends.||If I make a mistake I am bad. I have to be perfect or I am not loveable.|
|When I was seriously dating my husband I got really sick and had to leave college and go home.
He got into some phone numbers that I had and started calling girls for dates.
|I am not important.|
These are just a few that I found. I have half a dozen very distinct memories where these three beliefs came up over and over again. This is a good indication that it is a faulty core belief. Still to this day if someone treats me like I am stupid, it stings and I have to fight the belief that I am.
Step 3: Shift your perception
Daily affirmations is a great way to begin shifting our perceptions of ourselves. I started with the belief that I was ‘not good enough’ I placed sticky notes all over my house and in my car that simply said, “I am enough.” Every time I saw the affirmation I would say it to myself. After a couple of weeks my therapist asked me to walk around my house and on each sticky note I had to write a reason why I was good enough. This was the beginning of a journey that would slowly change my life. By changing the message in my brain, and practicing it over and over again I was able to change my point of view about myself.
Fighting The Battle
I would be lying to you if I told you that I was fixed and that I didn’t have to stay on top of the faulty core beliefs. They sneak back in all of the time and It is a battle to keep them at bay. Now I am able to slow down my thinking and reality check the messages and prove them wrong. The battle is ever going, but it is worth the fight. My view of myself has shifted dramatically and I am able to live more free than I ever have.
Van Warmerdam, Gary. “Change Core Beliefs.” Pathway to Happiness. Pathway To Happiness LLC, Web. 16 June, 2016. http://www.pathwaytohappiness.com/writings_falsebeliefs.htm.