Core beliefs and how to change them

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Core beliefs

Core beliefs have the power to shape and influence our life.  It can make us do wonderful and incredible things.  Beliefs can also make us do harmful things when we feel they are challenged and want to retaliate.  Our beliefs are formed from our subconscious, from our environment and from the people around us. 

From the time we are very little, our core beliefs are shaped and become ingrained into our DNA.  Regardless of the quality of an experience, a belief can be hard to change.

Core beliefs

What is a core belief?

A core belief is “an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.”  Thus, a belief is based on a perception, or one’s interpretation of the acquired knowledge.

A belief can be extrinsic.  What appears as truth for one person can be interpreted differently for someone else.  For instance, a sunflower may appear yellow for person A.  But to person B, who is colorblind, a sunflower may appear light grey.  Both interpretations were believed to be true in their own minds.  

Beliefs can also be internal.  Take, for example, a child that is raised in an abusive household.  If a parent tells the child he is ugly, good for nothing, stupid, and no one will ever love him, the child will believe the negative messages from the parent.  Therefore the child will believe that he is worthless.

Core beliefs and how you can change them

Where do beliefs come from?

Beliefs start in the brain.  The brain is made up of trillions of connections.  Information is sent to our gray matter, via our senses, to be processed.  Neurons are stimulated as a result.  New synaptic dendrites are created and grow and alter over time.  The more times they are stimulated, the stronger they become.  

The information undergoes a filtering process as they travel across the synapses.  One of the first areas of higher processes are the frontal lobes right behind our forehead.  The frontal lobes are responsible for learning, behavior, personality, and development of beliefs amongst other things.  

The information also travels to the hippocampus, amygdala and hypothalamus to be processed even further.  These areas also aid in the development of beliefs.

The information becomes internalized and shaped into ideas.  These ideas can then be attached with emotion and further shape the way we construct our beliefs.  The stronger the emotional tie, the stronger the brain connection, the stronger the belief.

Mind and body connection

Emotions such as anger, fear, jealousy, sadness, grief, and stress can wreak havoc on our bodies.  They can cause indigestion, heart palpitations, insomnia and headaches.  When they are tied with a thought, they form a negative core belief.

Emotions start in the brain.  They can be strongly tied to our beliefs and affect our emotional health.  When a belief stirs up fear or anger, it causes a release of stress hormones.  When the body is constantly under stress, bodily functions are negatively affected.  The immune system will be compromised and our health will start to decline.

On the other hand, when we are happy, joyful and relaxed, our bodies come to a state of equilibrium much easier and much quicker.  We are able to enjoy eating, sleep well and think clearly.  When we believe we are safe, happy, healthy and prosperous, the whole body benefits.

How do core beliefs influence our life?

Beliefs are the framework of how we define our world.  In this age of ever expanding cyber connection, we have the power to uplift or tear down.  On one hand, we have the ability to create positive, meaningful connections with someone half a world away.  On the other hand, we can abuse this power to internet bully a complete stranger just because they do not share our belief.

Positive effects of core beliefs

Let’s take a look first at the effect of positive beliefs.  “According to a landmark review, positive expectations are associated with better health. Science Daily reported that the reviewers were shocked by the consistency they saw in the data. Over and over the evidence showed that a person's positive beliefs are a strong influence for good on their health.”

A study on the “Negative and Positive Beliefs Related to Mood and Health” was published in the American Journal of Health Behavior.  Researchers found that “patients’ beliefs about their health and medical treatment are a potent factor in the success of medical treatment.”  They used several modes of assessment to relate beliefs with health outcomes.

In one model, “a person’s beliefs about their health status, the risk of having a condition, and the likelihood of a positive outcome from health behaviors predict whether they will engage in health-related behaviors.”  In another model, each of the health-related behaviors “emphasizes the key role of health beliefs in shaping attitudes, norms, and perceived control over health behaviors.

Each of these contribute to the intention to engage in a health behavior, and the intention in turn predicts a person’s actual behavior.”

A person’s perception of control, a belief in a positive outcome in relation to health behaviors, and having the energy to carry out self care helped to increase a willingness to improve and sustain one’s health.

Negative effects of beliefs

The study on “Negative and Positive Beliefs Related to Mood and Health” also revealed the other end of the belief spectrum.  “The role of mood in health behavior may be especially relevant because of the substantial effect of mood on beliefs and energy.

Patients with more depressive symptoms, for example, may have negative views of their health or even believe that attempts to improve their health are futile.  Persons with higher levels of depressive symptoms consistently report more severe functional disability and poorer health-related quality of life.

Various mechanisms for these observed relations have been proposed, perhaps related to individual traits associated with risk for greater depressive symptoms but also to patients’ current mood state.”

Furthermore, a study by Penny Sarchet revealed a link between negative beliefs and physical suffering.  “She saw that in a doctor-patient relationship the patient's belief makes a world of difference as to that person's health. What a doctor says and what the patient believes may be more closely tied to the patient's outcome than what the doctor does physically.

If a doctor's warnings about possible negative side effects increases the likelihood of the patient experiencing pain or suffering, as research consistently suggests will happen, the leading culprit is the patient's mental state.  Fear or a deep pessimism that they won't get better can be the underlying enemy to health.”

Why core beliefs are hard to change.

Beliefs give our life direction and meaning.  Without them, we feel disconnected from our world.  Beliefs can become so intertwined with our attitudes and behavior that even if we perceive it as negative, we continue to allow them to influence our thoughts and actions.  

We experience our world through our senses.  If a positive emotion is attached to a particular experience, your mind will form a positive belief about it.  On the flip-side, a negative emotion linked to a negative experience forms a negative belief.

Long standing beliefs can be hard to change because it requires cerebral effort, dedication and a willingness to dig into a well of emotional trauma.  The brain can become so desensitized to a negative emotion-experience loop that it falls into a cognitive and behavioral comfort zone.  This is especially true when the experience is tied with strong emotions like fear and anger.

The body is hard-wired to stay in equilibrium, even if a belief is negative.  If a trauma is masked with drugs and alcohol or swept under the mental rug, the brain will perceive it to be unimportant.  It will hold the belief in a mental cache so it can continue to process and filter new information.

A belief that is adhered to someone from the time he or she was a child can be difficult to change.  An especially negative belief can sneak up and surface time and again in a myriad of different forms.  For instance, a child is told over and over that she is ugly.  She believes it and her self worth is very small.

She grows up to have a successful career but deep down she still believes she is that ugly, small child.  Her self esteem does not improve despite her success.  Like begets like.  The cycle loops repeatedly unless she is willing to change her belief.

How can I change a core belief?

 A common misperception is that beliefs cannot be changed because they are inextricably tied into our reality.  When you acknowledge that you need to change a belief, your mindset will also start to shift.

The receptors in the brain are flexible.  We first need to be willing to change our thoughts so we can change our beliefs.  When our thoughts change, neurochemicals are released and new synapses are formed.

Beliefs are only pieces of information in our brain that were processed through complex emotional and intellectual processes.  If they are cut off from their source, they will weaken.  When a new idea or thought is introduced into the mind with a strong, positive emotion, it will have the power to suppress the old, negative belief.

First, you have to address the negative belief that you want to change.  

  1. When it surfaces, do not try to ignore it.  Just be curious.  

  2. Notice the feelings that go with it.  How did it make you feel?  

  3. Imagine the belief floating away into nothingness.

  4. Then feel the joy of releasing the old belief.  

  5. Now remember an experience with a good emotion tied to it.   

  6. Say an affirmation with that positive feeling.  You can say to yourself, “I am at peace, all is well.”

Remember, old core beliefs took some time to form in your mind.  Our brains can be so powerful that even a negative belief will become our reality if we allow it.  Allow the change to take place naturally.  Do not expect immediate results.

You should, however, start to notice and feel a shift in your body.  Have patience and be gentle with yourself.  With time and diligence, the old belief will disappear.  Keep repeating the affirmation to yourself as if it were already true.  With practice, the new affirmation, tied with a strong and positive emotion, will become the new belief.

How do core beliefs influence our life?

Beliefs are the framework of how we define our world.  In this age of ever expanding cyber connection, we have the power to uplift or tear down.  On one hand, we have the ability to create positive, meaningful connections with someone half a world away.  On the other hand, we can abuse this power to internet bully a complete stranger just because they do not share our belief.

Positive effects of core beliefs

Let’s take a look first at the effect of positive beliefs.  “According to a landmark review, positive expectations are associated with better health. Science Daily reported that the reviewers were shocked by the consistency they saw in the data. Over and over the evidence showed that a person's positive beliefs are a strong influence for good on their health.”

A study on the “Negative and Positive Beliefs Related to Mood and Health” was published in the American Journal of Health Behavior.  Researchers found that “patients’ beliefs about their health and medical treatment are a potent factor in the success of medical treatment.”  They used several modes of assessment to relate beliefs with health outcomes.

In one model, “a person’s beliefs about their health status, the risk of having a condition, and the likelihood of a positive outcome from health behaviors predict whether they will engage in health-related behaviors.”  In another model, each of the health-related behaviors “emphasizes the key role of health beliefs in shaping attitudes, norms, and perceived control over health behaviors.

Each of these contribute to the intention to engage in a health behavior, and the intention in turn predicts a person’s actual behavior.”

A person’s perception of control, a belief in a positive outcome in relation to health behaviors, and having the energy to carry out self care helped to increase a willingness to improve and sustain one’s health.

Negative effects of beliefs

The study on “Negative and Positive Beliefs Related to Mood and Health” also revealed the other end of the belief spectrum.  “The role of mood in health behavior may be especially relevant because of the substantial effect of mood on beliefs and energy.

Patients with more depressive symptoms, for example, may have negative views of their health or even believe that attempts to improve their health are futile.  Persons with higher levels of depressive symptoms consistently report more severe functional disability and poorer health-related quality of life.

Various mechanisms for these observed relations have been proposed, perhaps related to individual traits associated with risk for greater depressive symptoms but also to patients’ current mood state.”

Furthermore, a study by Penny Sarchet revealed a link between negative beliefs and physical suffering.  “She saw that in a doctor-patient relationship the patient's belief makes a world of difference as to that person's health. What a doctor says and what the patient believes may be more closely tied to the patient's outcome than what the doctor does physically.

If a doctor's warnings about possible negative side effects increases the likelihood of the patient experiencing pain or suffering, as research consistently suggests will happen, the leading culprit is the patient's mental state.  Fear or a deep pessimism that they won't get better can be the underlying enemy to health.”

Why core beliefs are hard to change.

Beliefs give our life direction and meaning.  Without them, we feel disconnected from our world.  Beliefs can become so intertwined with our attitudes and behavior that even if we perceive it as negative, we continue to allow them to influence our thoughts and actions.  

We experience our world through our senses.  If a positive emotion is attached to a particular experience, your mind will form a positive belief about it.  On the flip-side, a negative emotion linked to a negative experience forms a negative belief.

Long standing beliefs can be hard to change because it requires cerebral effort, dedication and a willingness to dig into a well of emotional trauma.  The brain can become so desensitized to a negative emotion-experience loop that it falls into a cognitive and behavioral comfort zone.  This is especially true when the experience is tied with strong emotions like fear and anger.

The body is hard-wired to stay in equilibrium, even if a belief is negative.  If a trauma is masked with drugs and alcohol or swept under the mental rug, the brain will perceive it to be unimportant.  It will hold the belief in a mental cache so it can continue to process and filter new information.

A belief that is adhered to someone from the time he or she was a child can be difficult to change.  An especially negative belief can sneak up and surface time and again in a myriad of different forms.  For instance, a child is told over and over that she is ugly.  She believes it and her self worth is very small.

She grows up to have a successful career but deep down she still believes she is that ugly, small child.  Her self esteem does not improve despite her success.  Like begets like.  The cycle loops repeatedly unless she is willing to change her belief.

How can I change a core belief?

 A common misperception is that beliefs cannot be changed because they are inextricably tied into our reality.  When you acknowledge that you need to change a belief, your mindset will also start to shift.

The receptors in the brain are flexible.  We first need to be willing to change our thoughts so we can change our beliefs.  When our thoughts change, neurochemicals are released and new synapses are formed.

Beliefs are only pieces of information in our brain that were processed through complex emotional and intellectual processes.  If they are cut off from their source, they will weaken.  When a new idea or thought is introduced into the mind with a strong, positive emotion, it will have the power to suppress the old, negative belief.

First, you have to address the negative belief that you want to change.  

  1. When it surfaces, do not try to ignore it.  Just be curious.  

  2. Notice the feelings that go with it.  How did it make you feel?  

  3. Imagine the belief floating away into nothingness.

  4. Then feel the joy of releasing the old belief.  

  5. Now remember an experience with a good emotion tied to it.   

  6. Say an affirmation with that positive feeling.  You can say to yourself, “I am at peace, all is well.”

Remember, old core beliefs took some time to form in your mind.  Our brains can be so powerful that even a negative belief will become our reality if we allow it.  Allow the change to take place naturally.  Do not expect immediate results.

You should, however, start to notice and feel a shift in your body.  Have patience and be gentle with yourself.  With time and diligence, the old belief will disappear.  Keep repeating the affirmation to yourself as if it were already true.  With practice, the new affirmation, tied with a strong and positive emotion, will become the new belief.

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Hi! I'm the author of this post and the creator of Third Bliss. I love sharing my tips on how to nurture your mind, body, and spirit so you can enjoy what matters most.

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