3 Creative Ways to Heal from Negative Core Beliefs
One of the most important things I've learned throughout my recovery is that I'm not just recovering from depression and anxiety; I am recovering from negative core beliefs about myself. Now that I have my depression and anxiety managed through medication and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), it's time to start changing those negative core beliefs and healing from the damage they cause.
What Are Core Beliefs?
Our core beliefs are truths that we may not even realize we believe about ourselves and our world because they are formed in our subconscious. We pay attention to our environment and how people treat us and react to us, and we use that information to create a system of knowledge about what is and isn't true.
For example, growing up, I was a very sensitive kid. This means I was more emotional than my parents expected me to be, and it means I picked up on my parents' emotions more easily. As a result, I seemed to be getting a lot of information that the way I reacted to the world was incorrect. This became a core belief. I learned that I was defective and my perceptions and emotions were wrong and bad. No one told me this explicitly, but my subconscious created this belief based on how people reacted to my intense emotions.
3 Creative Ways to Heal Negative Core Beliefs
So, if core beliefs live in the subconscious, how do I know so much about mine? I have a basic understanding of my core beliefs because I've been working on them in therapy for many years now. It's been a slow process because CBT isn't really built to help you deal with negative core beliefs. So lately, I've been seeking out different ways to deal with negative core beliefs, and I think I've found a few that really help.
- Ego Work --This is still a very new concept to me, but I've already gotten a lot out of it. Ego work is all about recognizing the narrative you have created about yourself, acknowledging the purpose that narrative has served in the past, and then moving toward a less simplistic view of yourself that acknowledges both your flaws and your strengths. Using ego work, I've realized that my core belief that I am bad and wrong served a purpose when I was young. It helped protect me from ridicule and helped me make sense of my world. But I've also realized that it came at the cost of a lot of shame, and it is no longer serving me.
- How It Feels vs. How It Is -- I developed this journaling method years ago when my mental health first started falling apart. I would frequently find myself caught up in thoughts that everyone hated me or that I couldn't do something, even when it didn't appear that those things were really true. I would journal, and on one page I would write all about how I felt about the situation, no matter how unrealistic it was. This was hugely validating and it helped me get my negative feelings out onto paper. Then on the other page, I would write about how I thought the situation was in reality, regardless of my feelings. I tried not to invalidate myself on this page, but rather just provide context and perspective. This technique comes from dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) which is a great therapy option for people with strong negative core beliefs.
- TV Shows -- This one might seem really strange, but it has actually been an incredibly healing strategy for me. Find a TV show with a character who is dealing with negative core beliefs that are similar to yours. Personally, Avatar: The Last Airbender and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend have worked really well for me. Watch an episode or two and then take the time to journal about the show and your negative core beliefs. I've found that this method is really helpful for seeing the patterns created by my core beliefs because it's easier to see patterns in a character in a TV show than it is in ourselves.
What are your core beliefs? Are they still serving you? If you have any other creative tactics for changing negative core beliefs, be sure to share them with our community in the comments.
Griffith, M. (2020, May 27). 3 Creative Ways to Heal from Negative Core Beliefs, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, September 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2020/5/3-creative-ways-to-heal-from-negative-core-beliefs