How to Change Negative Core Beliefs About Yourself (Part 1)
20 Common Limiting Mindsets & 5 Questions to Help You Change Them
In 5th grade I was accused of dancing on a table during lunch. The principle embarrassed me in front of a packed lunchroom. She then brought me to her office where her and the vice-principle harassed for what seemed like an hour. I cried and cried knowing I was innocent.
Because I was threatened, I never told my parents. Decades later I learned I was targeted in retaliation for a complaint my parents made about my brother’s first grade teacher.
I rarely thought about this incident until a friend asked me about my first traumatic memory and it’s what came to mind. It was such an painful experience I tucked it deeply away, subconsciously believing this would somehow protect me from ever experiencing something so painful again. I now realize this event impacted my ability to trust people for decades.
I hope 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 20 common unhealthy core beliefs. Read each one twice asking yourself, “is this how I view myself and the world?”. Trust your intuition to help you identify which ones impact you the most.
20 Common Limiting 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’m worthless because of my past.”
6. “It’s better to avoid life’s difficulties than to face them.”
7. “I should have achieved much more by now.”
8. “I’m a failure.”
9. “I am awkward.”
10. “The worst results usually occur for me.”
“Nothing can bring you peace, but yourself.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
11. “It’s usually my fault.”
12. “People are not trustworthy.”
13. “I don’t deserve good things in life. I am not worthy.”
14. “I have nothing to offer.”
15. “I am not good enough.”
16. “I am not safe.”
17. “I am alone/I don’t belong.”
18. “If I try new things and fail, people will view me negatively.”
19. “I am responsible for other people’s happiness.”
20. “People will judge/reject me if they see the real me.”
5 Questions to Help Replace Your Limiting Mindsets
These questions are adapted from the process of self inquiry from Byron Katy. What she calls, doing “The Work”.
1. Is it true?
2. Can I absolutely know that it’s true?
3. How do I react, what do I do, when I believe this is true?
4. Who would I be, how would I react, without this thought?
5. What’s a new, accurate, and hopeful view, that’s equally as true?
Figuring out why you started having this perspective, (e.g. childhood, trauma, etc.) is also an extremely important question to answer, yet more difficult.
Here’s a downloadable worksheet to guide you with the process!
A client frequently thought, “I don’t deserve good things in life”. He felt his future was doomed because of a mistake he made years ago. This belief caused severe anxiety that held him back for decade. With some effort, he changed “I don’t deserve good things in life” to “I forgive myself and making good decisions now. Good things are ahead”. This perspective change turned his life around.
Changing negative core beliefs 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!
“I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” – Mark Twain
Question: Which of these limiting mindsets causes you problems? Why do you think you have this core belief about yourself?