When you first dig up the festering mess of your core beliefs from the depths of your being you either fall to your knees in agonized recognition or snicker in absolute disbelief.
The truth is that inner work is not always a “feel good” or clean and sanitary journey. We all want to quickly arrive at the destination of self-love. We all want to relax in the sanctuary of warmth and healing that comes with the development of inner peace. In fact, often we believe that we have finally arrived to the end of our healing journey, when in reality we have so much more inner work to do.
If you have read up to this point, I think it is safe to say that you are having some doubts. You might be experiencing confusion or disappointment about your journey as well as a lot of unexpected setbacks right now. If so, I can empathize with you because I have experienced this sense of disorientation, disillusionment and frustration as well many times in my life.
Your Core Beliefs are Surprising
Just when you think you have a pretty good idea of who you are … some other miserly thing raises its ugly head …
Have you ever experienced this before? Most of us have at some point in our lives, and I believe this is because of the way we approach our self-healing in the first place.
I’ve made a pretty serious mistake on my path. I’ve approached my healing from the outside-in. I have changed my diet, my daily routines, my nasty habits, and I have changed pretty much anything I could find that was detrimental to my health in the outside world. It’s actually quite enjoyable to pick up on bad habits once you enter the journey of self-love and replace them with much better alternatives. It’s like playing I-spy-with-my-little-eye – with your life. And don’t get me wrong; it is very beneficial.
But the truth is that this is the easy path. Starting your journey from the outside-in is useful, but in the end it tends to trick you into believing that you are a “truly” self-loving person; that your journey of self-love has ended.
Fixing your life solely from the outside is a limited path; it will only get you so far. Because after you take care of your body, your skin, your diet, your environment and everything else that impacts you in the external world … what then? Soon you will find that you are continuing to feel miserable, you are continuing to torture yourself with shame, guilt, self-pity and self-destructive behaviors. Soon you will feel as though you are back at square one again.
But there is hope, and this hope lies in taking a completely different path: the path that starts within you first. This is the hard path, but it is ultimately the most rewarding because it helps you to put an end to your self-imposed suffering.
To start this path you must be willing to put up with a great deal of discomfort. You must be willing to find the truth at all costs. Only then will you be able to uncover the deeply held core beliefs inside of you that are at the very root of your pain.
And let me tell you … you’ll be surprised by what you discover!
Examples of Core Beliefs to Look Out For
A core belief is not an everyday garden variety belief that pops up spontaneously – it is the mother of all beliefs, the big kahuna of suffering and the king or queen of your own personal underworld.
Often we are completely unaware of what our core belief/s are (even if we think we are “conscious”!) and it is quite common to disbelieve their existence. As I mentioned at the beginning; discovering your core beliefs will either make you fall to your knees or brush them off with absolute disbelief. But the truth is that we all have core beliefs and we are all manipulated by them.
“But I’m a spiritual person: I’ve dedicated so many years to self-improvement!”
Maybe so. But if you’re still continuing to suffer, chances are that you haven’t done the dirty work of taking a pickaxe to your mind first.
In fact, I once used the same justification to avoid the fact that I had (and still have) some very real, very harmful core problems. Eventually I’ve learned the hard way. Thanks to the constant re-emergence of a guilt complex I have, I’ve discovered two main core beliefs I have about myself:
- I am not worthy of happiness.
- I deserve to be punished.
And these were completely shocking, but undeniably and tragically true!
Here are some other examples of common core beliefs that we hide inside:
- I am irredeemably flawed.
- I am unlovable.
- I am bad.
- I am stupid.
- I am worthless.
- I am a loser.
- I don’t deserve good things.
- I am a failure.
- I am weak.
- I am not enough.
- I don’t matter.
- I am boring.
- I am crazy and unstable.
- I can’t be fixed.
- I always hurt people.
- I always hurt myself.
- I have no hope.
- I am evil/sinful.
- I am unwanted.
- I am invisible.
- I am a mistake.
- I am helpless.
- I am ugly.
- I am shameful.
- I am uninteresting.
- I will die alone.
This list only displays a sample of the many possible core beliefs that could exist within you. Also remember that we usually have more than one core belief operating behind the scenes.
Uncovering Your Core Beliefs
In another article I will discuss how to replace your core beliefs with beliefs that sustain and promote your well-being rather than perpetuate self-abuse.
Before doing this however, it is really important that you uncover as many core beliefs within you as possible. Here are a few helpful things to remember as you begin this new journey:
- Core beliefs always start with “I …”
- Supporting beliefs (that uphold your core beliefs) sound like the following, “She never cared for me” (I am unlovable), “He is such a show off, I can’t stand it” (I am unimportant), “They’re always messing everything up” (I am helpless), “I’m sorry that I keep making mistakes, I’m a klutz” (I am a failure).
- Keep a journal or find a way to record the thoughts you have about yourself and other people during the day. Next to each thought ask “Why?” or the questions, “Why is that so bad/Why is that so important?” Keep asking these questions until you reach a core answer. For example, you might write, “I hate how my friend keeps interrupting me.” Why is that so bad? “Because I want to be listened to.” Why? “Because I want to be cared for.” Why? “Because I feel like no one cares about what I have to say.” Why is that so important? “Because I feel alone and worthless.” From this we can ascertain that the core beliefs would be, “I am worthless” and/or “I am alone.”
- Be brutally honest (painful, but imperative).
- Whenever you experience a flux in emotion, pay attention!
- Before going to sleep, be aware of what your thoughts dwell on.
As you walk the difficult but deeply fulfilling path of uncovering your core beliefs, remember that some are more persistent than others. It is common for some core beliefs to fluctuate with your emotions – look out for these – but also look out for those that emerge even when you aren’t feeling emotional (these are often the deeper, more serious core beliefs).
Any of your own personal discoveries regarding core beliefs are welcomed below!