How to Change Damaging Mindsets

6 Questions to Help You Change Your Beliefs For Good

November 10, 2023 |

Negative Self Image

In 5th grade, an incident occurred that created some damaging mindsets. My school principal verbally scolded and intentionally embarrassed me in front of a packed lunchroom. I was accused of causing lunchroom chaos, including dancing on a table.

She then pulled me to her office where she and the vice-principle chastised me for what seemed like an hour. I cried hysterically, knowing I was completely innocent. I was a sensitive kid who didn’t cause problems.

Because I was threatened, I never told my parents until recent years. From them, I learned I was targeted in retaliation for a complaint they made about my brother’s 1st-grade teacher. My sister, an 8th grader at the time, was targeted as well.

Me in 5th grade at St. Mels Catholic School. 1984

I rarely thought about this incident until a friend asked me about my first traumatic memory. This incident quickly came to mind. It was such a painful experience I tucked it deeply away, subconsciously believing forgetting it would somehow protect me from ever experiencing something so painful again. This event impacted my ability to trust people for decades.

Hopefully, this article helps you see how trauma has impacted your view of yourself and the world. I hope you’re inspired to do the work to change your negative mindsets.

Here are 30 common unhealthy core beliefs. Read each one twice asking yourself, “Is this how I view myself and the world?”. Trust your intuition.


30 Common Damaging Mindsets

1. “Things will never get better.”
2. “I’m a victim of my circumstances.”
3. “I must be almost perfect in whatever I do.”
4. “I need people’s approval to be OK with myself.”
5. “I am worthless/broken because of my past mistakes/failures/trauma.”
6. “My value comes from my performance plus the opinions of others.”
7. “It is better to avoid life’s difficulties than to face them.”
8. “Conflict leads to damage & erosion of my relationships.”
9. “I should have achieved much more by now.”
10. “I’m a failure.”
11. “If I try new things and don’t succeed, people will view me negatively.”
12. “I’m awkward.”
13. “I’m not smart enough.”
14. “I’m too young and inexperienced to succeed.”
15. “I’m unattractive. People are not drawn to me.”

If you found this information helpful, SUBSCRIBE TODAY to access my Free video & worksheet,
 Shatterproof Yourself: 7 Small Steps to a Giant Leap in Your Mental Health.

16. “The worst results usually occur for me now or in the long run.”
17. “It’s usually my fault, especially when others are upset with me.”
18. “People are not trustworthy.”
19. “I don’t deserve good things in life.”
20. “I have nothing to offer.”
21. “I’m not good enough (i.e., education, appearance, achievement, etc.).”
22. “I’m not safe. Something bad is going to happen.”
23. “I’m all alone/I don’t belong.”
24. “I am responsible for the happiness of those closest to me.”

“Nothing can bring you peace, but yourself.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

25. “People will judge/reject me if I relax and they see the real me.”
26. “If I relax and enjoy life, I will become lazy & unmotivated.”
27. “I will never have close, loyal friends.”
28. “I will never have a long-term romantic connection.”
29. “Having fun and enjoying hobbies is unproductive and leads to failure.”
30. “I cannot change (i.e., too old, hurt too many people, etc.).”

If you found this information helpful, SUBSCRIBE TODAY to access my Free video & worksheet,
 Shatterproof Yourself: 7 Small Steps to a Giant Leap in Your Mental Health.

6 Questions to Replace Your Damaging Mindsets

These questions are adapted from the process of self-inquiry from Byron Katy. She calls this process “The Work”.

1. Is it true?
2. Can I absolutely 100% know this fear & worry is true?
3. How do I react? What do I do when I believe this is true?
4. Who would I be, and how would I react without this thought?
5. What’s a new, accurate, and hopeful perspective?
6. What action can I take to apply this new healthy perspective?

Figuring out why you started having this perspective, (e.g. childhood, trauma, etc.) is also an extremely important question to answer, yet more difficult.

“I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”
Mark Twain

A client told me he often has the thought, “I’m a failure”. He feels his future is doomed because of some mistakes he made. This belief causes anxiety that has held him back for years. With some effort, he changed “I’m a failure” to “I have grown through my mistakes”. This perspective shift, focused on consistently, helped turn his career around.

Changing negative mindsets is hard work, but you CAN do it! The results you get in life are directly related to your focus. Doing “The Work” will change your life!

Coping with Anxiety (post) by Adam Gragg
How to Be Grateful When Life Is Hard (post) by Adam Gragg
What to Do When Emotionally Overwhelmed (post) by Adam Gragg
A Simple and Powerful Stress Coping Tool (post) by Adam Gragg
Overcome Worry & Get Out of Your Head (post) by Adam Gragg