How Inner Beliefs Shape Experiences
Each of us has beliefs we form about ourselves and our place in the world that we develop from the time we are very young. When we cry as an infant and someone comes to help us and attend to our needs we start to form the belief that we can access help and are worthy of help. When we cry as an infant and no one comes to meet our needs or our needs are only partially or intermittently met we develop the belief that we cannot rely on others and might not be worthy of the help of others.
These beliefs continue to develop throughout our lives -- when we accomplish or fail at a task, when we are successful or not successful in relationships, when we achieve success in reaching our goals or fall short of them. Each occurrence reinforces a belief about ourselves.
For some of us, these beliefs are accurate and healthy – I am capable. I am worthy. I am loved. I am enough.
For some of us, these beliefs are not accurate and can be harmful to us – I am not capable. I am not worthy. I am unlovable. I am not enough.
Once these core beliefs begin to form, it is like we suddenly have a filter between us and the world. Every experience we have that reinforces our core belief we tend to take in without questioning it. We wrap it around the core belief like an oyster making a pearl around a speck of dust. In this way, the core belief grows and gets stronger.
Any experience we have that disputes the core belief in some way we reject outright as untrue or as a fluke. So the instances that would show us that the core belief might not be accurate are never really considered in a meaningful way. This also sets us up to reinforce the core belief.
If we have accurate and healthy core beliefs, the filtering process helps to reinforce the positive beliefs we have about ourselves. When we have negative or inaccurate core beliefs, this process actually makes our lives more difficult because our core beliefs influence our thoughts, which influence our emotions, which influence our behaviors and the outcomes of those behaviors.
Recognizing that we might have inaccurate and negative core beliefs is a first step in making positive and lasting change in our lives. This can sometimes be difficult because the rational part of us knows that these beliefs couldn't possibly be true. Yet they stick and affect us everyday.
What has been your experience with core beliefs? Have you found situations in which your core beliefs affected your outcomes in a profound way?
In our next blog post, we will examine the process by which our core beliefs change our outcomes.