Understanding Core Beliefs

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Unduly negative thoughts can play an important role in maintaining overwhelming and dysfunctional emotions. Positive thoughts and beliefs that are realistic and reinforce positive self-perception and contentment satisfaction, happiness, curiosity and connection with others writes Suzette Boon and Kathy Steele. Persistent negative thoughts can evoke or reinforce feelings of depression, anxiety grief, anger, guilt, shame, or fear. And in turn, these feelings reinforce yet more negative thoughts and beliefs. When we are in a bad mood our thoughts are more negative, and thus we are more likely to see things in a negative light. The interconnection among thoughts, emotions, perceptions, predictions, and related decisions creates a cycle that supports our unique experience of self, others, and the world and is reinforced by negative situations, it becomes more difficult to balance our perspective. And for people with a  dissociative disorder, various parts will have different perspectives and beliefs.

The Origins of Core Beliefs

Our most basic, or core beliefs, are those which provide the foundation for our view of self, others, and the world. They often define what we believe about safety, trust, belonging, self-esteem, competence, vulnerability, needs and risk-taking. For example, a realistic positive core belief might be: “Most people are good and well-intentioned, though they are not perfect, however, a few people are truly dangerous, though they are not perfect, however, a few people are truly dangerous and should be wasted”. A negative core belief might be: “No one can ever be fully trusted because they are looking and only for themselves; I should avoid getting close to anyone for any reason.”

We all develop certain core beliefs whether they are negative or positive. for those who have a dissociative disorder, various dissociative parts or yourself may have different core beliefs, and these may create much inner conflict.

Core beliefs have their origin in childhood and a few can develop later in life based on powerful events. They can be changed, but often people are not consciously aware of them. Instead, they might have automatic thoughts that seem true but which they do not closely examine. For example, many traumatized individuals have automatic thoughts such as “No one loves me. I am worthless and stupid. I always fail at whatever I try. I am so ugly. It is ridiculous that I need help. I  am just weak and helpless”. Positive change requires being able to be aware of and reflect on core beliefs,

A number of factors play a role in the development of core beliefs. Your inborn temperament affects that way in which you naturally view the world. A person who is naturally is introverted and likes routine is likely to have somewhat different beliefs than one who is extroverted and likes to take a lot of risks. Some people are naturally more sensitive, while others seem less vulnerable to hurts and abrupt changes. Some people naturally feel quite intensely, while others have a more narrow range of feeling. These differences can influence a wide range of core beliefs.

In addition, each family has collective core beliefs that are passed down to the child, where explicitly or unconsciously. For example, if the implicit message in a family is that one should never make mistakes, a child will the develop the conviction that he or she should always be perfect. Gradually such a child will develop fears of making any kind of mistake, will become afraid of trying new things, and will not be easily satisfied with whatever he or she accomplishes. If the family core belief is that children are important, competent, and lovable, a child will grow up with confidence and feel secure in relationships.. Core beliefs can also develop based on where early relationships are secure and enduring. For instance, suddenly lose a parent at a young age may result in feelings of abandonment and the belief that something disastrous can suddenly happen and that you can lose people you love at any moment. Like, being abused by a caregiver at a young age may result in strong beliefs that you cannot trust anyone, ever.

Negative Core Beliefs In People With A Complex Dissociative Disorder

Chronically traumatised people often suffer from persistent negative core beliefs. These are deeply rooted convictions that typically involved all-or-nothing thinking without balance or nuance: “Things never work out for, “People always hurt me”, “I am completely stupid” or ” There is no safe place”. These beliefs often contain words like always, never or none. Such thoughts and beliefs and profoundly influence, reinforce and intensify negative emotions. Negative core beliefs and reinforces over time by negative emotions, perceptions and predictions, and by additional negative life experience. The same is true for positive core beliefs and attendant perceptions and experiences,

People with the dissociative disorder may find that their beliefs, thoughts and convictions may change suddenly or be in conflict, since various dissociative parts may have different core beliefs. some thoughts and convictions are so fundamental to the individual’s life experience that all dissociative parts share them, for instance, I cannot trust anyone or “I will never be safe”.

Individual differences in beliefs among dissociative parts are related to the fact that each part has somewhat different life experiences. Parts of you that deal with tasks and functions in daily life are sometimes better able to observe and interpret the reality of the present moment, without being influenced by too many old thought or convictions. These parts have more distance from the past, largely because they avoid it. Most dissociative parts that are stuck in trauma-time suffer from negative, undermining thoughts and convictions because they view the world only through their past experiences, without considering that the present may be quite different. As a result, the reality of the present moment can easily be distorted and relived in similar ways as the past as parts intrude into daily life: This is what we have called living in trauma-time. Even if there is some factual acknowledgement that the present is different from the past, these core beliefs often seem so compelling that they drown out current reality. Talking inwardly to these parts and helping them by respectfully challenging their deep-rooted convictions is a start, beginning with orienting them to present-day realities. Correcting core beliefs is not easy and will take some persistent work, but you can be successful over time.

Core beliefs affect your ability to reflect on your experiences. For example, suppose you are walking down the street and see a friend on the other side, walking in your direction. You wait for her to say hello, but she just keeps walking without acknowledging you at all. You could consider many different possibilities for what she was thinking and not just assume that she did not care about or was angry with you. Depending on your core beliefs and your perceptions, you or different parts of you may have some or all of the following thoughts (a) This person is preoccupied and did not even see me (b) This person is deliberately ignoring me (c) This person seems angry with me (d) She is walking fast to get away from having to talk with me (e) She feels hurt that I did not say hello.

It is important for you to consider the possible intentions of others, rather than jumping to the same conclusions based on certain core beliefs, such as “People never like me”. Do your core beliefs allow you to assume that people generally have no reason to dislike or ignore you and that most people are well intentioned? Or do you believe that most people do not care about you are just out to get what they want from you? Perhaps different parts of you might have different beliefs. Regarding the earlier example, some part of you may think, “See! She ignored me. Nobody like me. I am worthless and will always be alone” Yet another part of you has an entirely different perception. “This isn’t about me at all. She probably didn’t even see me” These two very different sets of thoughts, beliefs and perceptions have different emotional tones: one is highly negative, and one is positive or at least neutral. The first statement reinforces old negative beliefs, whereas the second statement supports a more positive and realistic view of the world.

Realistic and Healthy Core Beliefs

There are a number of generally accepted healthy core beliefs that allow for a more balanced view of self, others and the world. They are more flexible and realistic. A healthy core belief is based on both positives and negatives of reality. For example: “I prefer to make mistakes, but I know I will because no one is perfect. When I do, I will work to correct it and not be too hard on myself.”  Or  “Everyone needs help from others from time to time. Need help does not mean I am weak or lazy, it means I am human.” Or “I can allow myself to relax and have a good time, just as I allow myself to work hard when I need to.”

Of course, not everyone can always live in accordance with all their beliefs or put them into practice every moment. You may be quite convinced that something is healthy and good, but this does not mean that you can always “practice what you preach”. But the more you practice, the more healthy beliefs can become part of your life.

 

 

 

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I would love to hear from you so please leave a comment. All feedback is much appreciated. Thank you. Erin