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Core Beliefs & Their Importance

Are your core beliefs keeping you from the life you deserve?Hint: Believe only those that empower you.

What are core beliefs?

1. How we look at ourselves

2. How we look at others

3. How we look at the world

Working with more than 2,200 survivors of intimate terrorism helped me realize that we, as women, sabotage ourselves with our old, negative core beliefs about ourselves, about others and about the world around us.

Your core beliefs were formed by you, usually early in childhood, when you were told to behave, and to do everything for other people and never to state your own needs. How quickly we learn what we need to do to be loved.

Core beliefs can be negative or positive, and are often unconscious, without our being aware of them. They can be transformed from negative to positive by understanding where they came from and by recognizing that they are misperceptions we have had for decades. When I was a child, I was told by my mother to “just be nice” and if I could not say anything nice, not to say anything at all. What does “nice” even mean? Nice is so random. To her it meant I should be a good little girl and say all the right things and do all the right things. It left no room for me to be who I really was.

I grew up believing that I was not a “nice” little girl, and I could only be loved if I behaved in a certain way. How many of you have felt the same way for most, if not all, of your lives? Have these beliefs created patterns of behavior that have forced you to be someone you are not or no longer want to be? Have you been fearful of trying new things because you didn’t feel you should or could do them. Have you said “yes” when you could have said “no”? Have you taken the blame for things that were not your fault? Have you spent years trying to make relationships work when they were not good for you? Are you overly critical of yourself? Is your self-talk constantly negative? We all have been misguided by old, incorrect beliefs, but by understanding your negative beliefs, you can change them.

Negative Beliefs:

I don't deserve love.

I'm a bad person.

I'm not good enough.

I'm stupid.

I'm different from other people.

I must have done something wrong.

I should know better.

I can't trust myself.

I can't protect myself.

I'm always unsafe and powerless.

I have no control over my life.

I'm a failure.

I can't trust anyone.

Positive Beliefs:

I deserve love.

I am worthy.

I deserve good things in my life.

I'm intelligent.

I am enough.

I do the best that I can.

I can trust my judgment.

I can choose other people to trust.

I am safe.

I can tell people my needs.

I have choices.

I am resilient.

I am strong.

I can succeed.

It’s OK to be myself.

How can you change those negative beliefs into positive beliefs?

We change our beliefs by trying to understand where those beliefs originally came from many, many years ago. Was it from a parent, a teacher? Was it maybe from being bullied in school, from a sibling, from a boss, from a lover, from a partner, from a grandparent, from a husband, a wife or from someone you didn't even know? When I began working with survivors of intimate terrorism I had to look closely at my own core beliefs. I founded my nonprofit on the beliefs that:

1. We are all created equal.

2. We all have the same fear, hopes and dreams.

3. We all deserve the best just because we breathe.

4. Just one person believing in another person can change that life.

5. Gratitude is the key to happiness.

6. Giving to others brings joy.

7. I was not afraid of failure and truly believed I could help women thrive.

I learned quickly while working with survivors that their self-esteem had been damaged through years of abuse. I also learned that their sense of self-worth had been destroyed. They often believed that deserved to be unhappy and that they created unhappiness in their lives. We have been taught to blame ourselves for everything, and we are very good at it.

What is the difference between self-esteem and self-worth?

Self-esteem is the way you look positively at yourself while self-worth is believing that you deserve to look positively at yourself. After many years, I realized that the only way to change old, debilitating core beliefs is self-forgiveness. Let me explain. I don't mean forgiving yourself for one specific act because we have all acted in ways that we are ashamed of. What I mean is a blanket forgiveness for all your imperfections.

This means forgiving yourself for everything and learning to believe that you are only human and imperfect. You are doing the very best job that you can with the tools and the knowledge that you have. Being human means being imperfect. We are all muddling through our own very complicated, sometimes very messy, lives!

Our core beliefs lead us to patterns of behavior which may no longer serve us well.

What are negative patterns?

Our patterns of behavior regarding money, inappropriate partners, similar, recurring conflicts with friends and family, bad habits such as drinking, drugs, smoking, overeating, not following through and communications with your children and more are based on our beliefs about ourselves.

Negative patterns are difficult to change. Understanding that they may be life lessons and looking more deeply at where they came from are ways of learning from them and moving on. There are always more lessons to learn, and the more you learn, the harder the lessons become, but the more meaningful and life changing they are. As Dr. Brian Weiss says, “earth is the hardest classroom”. One of my spiritual mentors, almost 30 years ago, said that learning our life lessons is like peeling away the layers of an onion. The closer to the center of the onion that we get, the older and the more important the lessons are.

Oftentimes, our beliefs keep us from being willing to look at our life lessons and do the work to learn from them. For me, as I learned my lessons, I realized how much calmer and easier life was. I know one of my biggest life lessons is giving up control, which is an illusion anyway. I was a control freak. I held on very tight to everything thinking that if I didn't control everything, my life and family would fall apart. When I couldn't control everything, I drank which, of course, was the last thing I should have been doing. I was very lucky that, with the help of my family, I was able to finally understand how much I was hurting everyone including myself. I stopped drinking that day.

Then came my need for self-forgiveness. Having to look at the years when I was not behaving the way a wife and mother should was very painful. I had apologized to my husband and children, and I finally realized I needed to apologize to myself. Self- forgiveness is the basis for changing our beliefs and behavior patterns. If you can forgive yourself for everything you believe you did wrong by understanding that you did the best that you could with the tools and the situations that you had at the time, then you can begin to believe that you are worthy of creating the life that you want and deserve.

I hope as we take this journey together, that you will come to believe that you are enough and deserve your dreams. You already are a superstar!

Call to Action

Practice saying to yourself: “I forgive myself completely”.

Hint-It will take a while to believe it! Be gentle on yourself.



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