There is a hierarchy in our negative thoughts: Automatic Thoughts, Conditional Assumptions (or Rules), and Core Beliefs (or Core Limiting Beliefs). Those form the foundation of our identity. They are the central beliefs that we maintain about ourselves, others and the world. We have mentioned this hierarchy in the previous episode.
In this episode, we explore more closely how to uncover the Core Beliefs, especially Core Limiting Beliefs about ourselves. These belong in two domains: competency and desirability.
Examples of Core Beliefs that reflect incompetency are:
- I am incompetent
- I am a failure
- I am weak
- I am not good enough
- I am inferior
- I am dumb
Examples of Core Beliefs that reflect undesirability are:
- I am undesirable
- I am unattractive
- I am unlovable
- I am unlikable
- I am bad
- I am worthless
You can think of Core Beliefs as a pair of sunglasses. We may forget that we’re wearing them on our nose, but they still color the way we see the world:
In the handout, you’ll find a sample list of common Core Beliefs—see if some of them apply to you. You’ll also learn how to uncover some of your Core Beliefs, especially when they are hard to find. It uses a technique called the Downward Arrow.
Questions used in the Downward Arrow:
“What does that mean? Why is that upsetting to you?”
“What does that mean about you (or others, or the world)?”
“If that’s true, what’s so bad about it?”
“What’s the worst part about this?”
“So what if this is true? What are you afraid would happen?”
“How is that a problem for you?”
Find the Core Belief(s) underlying your Automatic Thoughts, and challenge it (them) by finding contradicting evidence.