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How to Change Your Negative Core Beliefs to Unlock Your Potential

In my previous posts, you will have learnt about core beliefs and automatic thoughts, the difference between them and the importance of identifying our negative beliefs. Today, I will show you how to change our negative core beliefs to modify our behaviour and thoughts. 

After sharing my story from the Pilates session with my psychologist and identifying my own core beliefs, we looked at how we could change my negative thinking. It wasn’t just the thoughts I had during the Pilates class, the whole experience just felt so overwhelming. I started to feel so sad and hurt by it that all I wanted to do was cry. Our thoughts impact our moods and emotions. And so, whilst sharing my experience with my psychologist, I started to feel sad again. 

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Read also ‘Automatic Thoughts and Core Beliefs: What Are They, and What Is the Difference Between Them?’

Identify your core beliefs

To identify my core beliefs my psychologist was using the Downward Arrow Technique. We started with the initial negative automatic thought that came to me whilst I was struggling with the Pilates exercise. The thought of ‘I can’t do the exercise’, quickly progressed to ‘I can never do anything right’.  The psychologist wrote down the sentences and underlined the words ‘never’ and ‘anything’. She then asked me if it really was true. Deep down I probably knew that there was the potential for my thinking to be irrational and exaggerated.

But how do we go about reframing our core beliefs? Is this even possible, you ask? Can we really change the negative core beliefs that are so deeply ingrained in us? Do you have negative thoughts and beliefs about yourself, or perhaps others and the world, that you would like to change?

How to change your negative core beliefs?

If so, observe your thoughts and question them. Remember, thoughts aren’t facts. Our beliefs are often outdated and sometimes have never even been true. Ask yourself, ‘What is the evidence to confirm this thought?’

And then ask, ‘What is the evidence that goes against this thought?’

Then, look at the overall evidence and see if it helps modify your thoughts when considered rationally. Ask yourself, ‘Do I still believe my original thought is correct, or does the evidence help to change my view?’

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Read also ‘Identify and Understand Your Core Beliefs: The Downward Arrow Technique

Create your new core belief

In my case, instead of ‘I can never do anything right’, I could see that this wasn’t the case and there are things I can do, and some of them even well. So, the statement ‘I can never do anything right’, was replaced with ‘I accept my limitations whilst also acknowledging my strengths and achievements’. It resonates better, I can see that I do have value and that my mistakes or limitations don’t define me. As a person, I am always willing to learn so this thought also serves as encouragement. Unlikely the old one that just made me feel bad about myself.

By sending our modified and positive thoughts into our core belief system we are naturally changing it. My core beliefs started to change as I realised I couldn’t be stupid if there were things I was good at. And that those words had never even been true. I just heard them enough time to adopt them without even questioning if they were indeed true. Every time I made a mistake or couldn’t manage something this is what I would hear. And this just resulted in me avoiding doing things I wasn’t that good at as I didn’t want to feel that way. Avoiding them consequently meant that there was never a chance for me to get better at those things.  

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Read also ‘PTSD and Anxiety – Anxiety Hacks Podcast

Take actions to reinforce your new beliefs

However, it’s not just about our new thoughts. It’s also important to have new experiences to help reinforce our new beliefs. This can be achieved by doing things we would have found overwhelming or that we would have avoided in the past. For me, one of these things was driving.

After my traumatic accident, when I was hit by a van when crossing the road, anxiety took over and driving became something that completely scared me.  But with my psychologist, we worked on it. And step by step I managed to build up to driving to my therapy sessions about 15 miles away. Something a few months earlier I couldn’t see happening. Seeing that I could do things, helped reinforce my new belief. I might not be great at everything. But with a bit of practice, I can do even things I previously thought would be impossible. 

It’s important to look for evidence that supports our new beliefs and reminds us that our old beliefs were indeed incorrect. By deactivating our old beliefs our new beliefs start to grow stronger. And as they do we start to feel better about ourselves. We are taking baby steps towards our goal and will feel the confidence to try new things. 

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Read also ‘Journaling: What Is It and How to Use It for Healing?

What to do when your old negative beliefs start to reappear?

However, be prepared for the fact life is not a smooth journey. Recently I decided to practice driving which would be a new journey for me. I prepared for the journey and made sure I knew where I was going. As I sat in my car before heading off, I felt confident. But despite my preparation, it just wasn’t ‘my day’ and I was making mistakes without even realising some of them. On the way back, after making another mistake, I stopped. I didn’t want to drive anymore. My husband, who was in the car with me, had to take over as I had become totally overwhelmed and emotionally down.

Of course, this allowed my old core belief to come back into play again. It started to influence my mood, feelings and behaviour, as I had a flashback to the time when I was emotionally abused and called names. I started to cry and promised myself that I do everything to not feel this way again. I told my husband I would never drive again. 

Maybe you have also been in situations which caused your old beliefs to resurface again. When this happens, it is important to target that belief before it takes hold again. Observe your core belief and ask, ‘What does it mean?’ and write it down along with the feelings that are attached to this core belief. Then consider which of the thoughts bothers you most, again write it down along with the evidence against it. Use that evidence to again justify why your old belief is incorrect. Then try to reinforce the new belief with this thought and future actions.

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Read also ‘Mindful of Christ’s Virtual Summit: Overcoming Negative Mindsets and Being Transformed by the Renewing of Your Mind

Reaffirm your new belief

Repeat the new belief to yourself every day. Have positive affirmations all around you and start saying them out loud as soon as you wake up in the morning. Do you know the saying ‘Fake it till you make it’? It isn’t about wearing a mask or masking our real feelings. It’s about immersing ourselves in new beliefs so that they become deeply ingrained in us and replace the old ones. 

And so, a week after my terrible experience driving, when I said I would never drive again, I was back in the car again. I started with baby steps, and we drove somewhere where I knew. I was able to drive there and back. And we had a lovely walk by the sea. There were no tears, just a good feeling that I could do it again. I had given in quickly after one unsuccessful drive, and for a while, my old core belief was back in play. But we need to tackle what bothers us because we know better. Deep inside us, we know that what was once assigned to us by someone else isn’t what defines us. And perhaps never did.

Pink background with an inspirational quote about changing our core beliefs by Katy Parker on the Journeyofsmiley blog

Read also ‘How to Heal Yourself: ‘7 Keys To Self-Healing’ A Trauma Survivor’s Guide

Change your negative core beliefs to unleash your potential

As for me, I am always on the lookout for thoughts and actions that serve me well and support my new core belief. By having a plan that involves taking baby steps I don’t get overwhelmed. And even if I do fall back a step or two it’s not the whole way. If you only need to recover a few small steps it becomes easier to avoid major setbacks that may give your old core belief the chance to return.

Changing our core beliefs doesn’t happen overnight. Changing something deeply ingrained, something that we have believed most of our lives, requires work. But we deserve better. Being able to identify and understand our core beliefs helps us to change our negative thoughts and beliefs. Don’t stay stuck on a belief that is holding you back from reaching your goals, your full potential.   

Get the keys to your healing

If you are going through a hard time and feel that a bit of encouragement and support is what you might need right now, feel free to download my free e-book 7 Keys To Self-Healing, A Trauma Survivor’s Guide. It will equip you with knowledge and tools to assist you on your healing journey, help you care for yourself, and feel more in control. Download your free e-book here

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Download your free e-book here

Thank you so much for reading, and until the next blog post,

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10 thoughts on “How to Change Your Negative Core Beliefs to Unlock Your Potential”

  1. We’re wired to think negatively, and changing our “natural” thinking pattern is not easy but you provided some great tips 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  2. Great post on positive thinking and action steps. I enjoyed the part about when negative thoughts reappear. Happens to the best of us!

  3. This is a great read, and very important too. I think more and more people are thinking negatively lately, it’s a good reminder to stop and think a little brighter.

  4. This post is incredibly insightful and empowering! I particularly appreciate the emphasis on taking action to reinforce new, positive beliefs and the practical advice on what to do when those old negative beliefs creep back in. It’s a reminder that personal growth is an ongoing journey, but we can navigate it successfully with the right strategies. Thank you for sharing these valuable steps toward a more positive mindset.

  5. You’re doing a great job exploring how deep-seated beliefs impact our feelings and reactions, especially with your personal stories from Pilates. Keep sharing on your Journeyofsmiley blog—it’s inspiring and really helps others understand their own struggles too.

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