I finished my blog yesterday by stating that today I would begin to break down individual core beliefs in an effort to learn how we can begin to change our perceptions of those beliefs. The idea, of course, is by changing our perception of those beliefs, we can then change how those beliefs affect the way we approach our daily lives. However, as I began writing core belief number one this morning, it occurred to me that not everyone is aware of the concept of core beliefs and how they fit into the way we view our lives and the world around us. As I mentioned in yesterday's blog, Perceptions and Core Beliefs, it took me a while to understand the idea of core beliefs and how they affected the way I approached, well, everything. Through over a year of therapy, I was finally able to access the concept and put it to work in my life. While I have begun to understand how it works and I have been able to implement it in my life, I am far from mastering the unlimited potential present in this revolutionary concept.
What is a Core Belief?
A core belief is a principle a person holds, either positive or negative, that ultimately guides the way a person perceives the world around them. Core beliefs are generally formed at an early age through repetitive occurrences of a specific action or event. For example, if a person is repeatedly left by people close to them, over time the person may form a core belief that they are unlovable. Once a core belief is formed, a person tends to only see actions or events that support that belief, whether or not those actions or events are actually present. Someone who believes they are unlovable may be surrounded by people who do love them, but they will concentrate on the one person who recently left because that action actively supports the belief that they are, in fact, unlovable. This irrational thinking continues until the core belief is challenged, at which point the person then has the ability to begin to form a new more positive core belief.
The irrational thinking that supports a person's core belief is one of the most interesting aspects of this concept. Speaking from experience, I can say that my ability to find the evidence to support my negative core beliefs was unparalleled. Looking back now it is difficult to comprehend because I have changed some of my core beliefs and I can't imagine thinking the things I thought back when I was using alcohol to escape my reality. I will talk about this in a lot more detail as I begin to explore different negative core beliefs we tend to hold, especially as addicts. In the meantime I'll give you a quick example of a core belief I held for about seven years that completely altered my ability to do something I loved. I was told by someone close to me that I couldn't write and that I should not be putting my writing out into the world. While this may or may not have been accurate, the fact that it came from someone I loved and trusted affected me to such an extent that I lost all ability to put words to paper for over seven years. The core belief I formed was, "I cannot write." So I didn't write. I believed it, so it was true.
Obviously, I have changed that core belief to, "I can write." Whether that core belief is accurate or not is irrelevant. I believe it, so it is true.
Core beliefs and perception are closely related because our core beliefs affect the way we perceive the world. As I said earlier, if we believe something to be true, our perception is that it is true regardless of whether we are right or wrong. There is a famous quote by Napoleon Hill that supports this idea, "Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve." I truly believe there is no limit to what we can do when we believe we can do something. Since becoming sober I have adopted some behaviors along these lines that I will share with you now because when they are actualized, I want to be able to say, "See, I told you." The day I quit drinking I began writing again. Since that day I have realized that writing is one of my truest passions and therefore, I now believe that I will write professionally. I believe it, so it is true. Wait and see.
Since realizing how tightly correlated core beliefs and perceptions are I have become somewhat obsessed with these ideas. How could I not? I have personally witnessed how the simple change in the way I perceived something has effectively altered my entire reality of that thing. For example, I once believed that drinking alcohol was one of my favorite and loved activities. I believed it, so it was true. After reading Annie Grace's book, "This Naked Mind," I began to see alcohol as a poison and something I no longer want in my life. I believe it, so it is true. I now have no affinity for the thing I once loved. It really is that simple.
Now that we have a basic understanding of the concept of core beliefs and perceptions, it is time to truly dive into some of the addict's common core beliefs. These core beliefs effectively keep us from seeing our potential and the potential we have of living an alcohol-free life and a life free from addiction. Remember to comment on these blogs with your thoughts and feel free to offer some of the core beliefs you have held and struggled with so we can unpack them together.
Core Belief #1: I am powerless.