It’s been said by Cognitive Behavioral Therapists (CBT) that the dysfunction we experience in life can generally be traced back to three core limiting beliefs:
1. I am unsafe (I am helpless, a victim, likely to be hurt, etc.)
2. I am unlovable (I am unwanted, bad, undesirable, likely to be rejected or abandoned, etc.)
3. I am not enough (I am worthless, broken, inadequate etc.)
These core beliefs represent our most central ideas about ourselves, our world and the beings in it and determine how we process and organize new information within our working framework of understanding. They originate early on in childhood and become more deeply ingrained with each passing year. Essentially, the more we make assumptions based on these beliefs, the more these assumptions color our world. We’re continually reinforcing our self-created and perpetuated struggles.
Take the unlovable core belief for example. Imagine that someone who identifies with this belief finds out he or she was not invited to a gathering of people from work, school or in the community. Automatically and rather subconsciously this person likely assumes the reason for being left out is that no one wants him/her around, that he/she has nothing to offer, isn’t well liked, etc. And so, believing even more adamantly that he or she is alone in the world, this person retreats–stops reaching out to people and acts distant in forced interactions–which in turn leads to less and less social invitations and more and more social isolation. Guided by their own core beliefs, the group of people might now assume that person isn’t interested in their friendship and might decide to move on.
See what I mean? It’s a vicious cycle.
“So what do we do,” you ask?
Well, we begin by identifying these core beliefs. We walk out to the fringe of our consciousness, pick up these beliefs and move them from the subconscious to the conscious realm. We question where they came from (ex: fear of unlovability might have originated from not being “chosen” by a parent during childhood), we question if they’re true–in the past, present, and future (ex: does having been abandoned as a child necessarily dictate that all future relationships will end in failure?)–and then we start to notice how they manifest in life (ex: driving people away, abandoning others first, etc.). And once we notice, we’re then able to challenge the assumptions we make because of them. We can evaluate our thought processes and then begin to generate alternative ways of thinking and behaving, because we realize we are not a slave to these automatic thoughts (ex: realizing I’m not still that helpless child and maybe what happened to me then isn’t happening now, nor will it always happen in the future). We unearth the limiting beliefs, listen to what they have to say and consider for a moment that life might in fact be a different way. We can find out for ourselves by actually asking, “Why?” Or, better yet, we can chose to trust that all things work out for the highest good and nothing is ever personal (because it isn’t). Little by little, our limiting belief structure can be dismantled as we chip away at these deeply rooted fixed ideas and begin to move forward with less weight, less self-created struggle, less pain, and less dysfunction.
Take some time to reflect upon which of these core beliefs ring true for you personally and then whenever you notice them re-surfacing in life, repeat to yourself the following affirmation: “I am safe. I am lovable. I am enough.”
And remember this: You are not a slave to your predispositions, your affinities or your aversions. You are not your fears. You are not your wounds. You are not even your most precious beliefs.
You are absolute existence in human form.
What is there to be afraid of?