Unconscious core beliefs can stand between you and your goal to put an end to your food, body image, and weight issues. When first formed, usually when you were younger and during times of transition, trauma, or emotional upheaval, core beliefs are solutions to problems you couldn’t solve—perhaps because you didn’t have the resources at the time. Research highlights the importance of addressing negative core beliefs; when they are not addressed, you may find it more difficult to stop unhealthy behaviors. Examples of core beliefs include: I’m not worthy, I’m not good enough and more. Negative core beliefs play an important role in the development and maintenance of the symptoms of food addiction, binge eating and emotional eating.
In this episode you will learn:
1. What are core beliefs?
2. How do core beliefs stand between you and what you desire most in your life?
3. How can you change a negative core belief?
- Can you identify a core belief from the 3 family scenarios listed above?
- If you can, ask yourself whether this core belief still fits for you or is simply a remnant from your past?
- If it no longer fits, what is a new core belief you can put in its place?
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Hi everyone and welcome to episode number 101. Today, I’m bringing you the fourth of the five steps to recovery and step four is about creating new core beliefs, stay tuned.
So let’s talk about core beliefs. Well, first of all, core beliefs are usually unconscious and these unconscious core beliefs are what stand between you and your goal to put an end to food and body image issues. Now, when you first develop a core belief, it’s usually when you were younger and it may have been during a time of stress or a transition, trauma or even emotional upheaval. These core beliefs that are seen as solutions to problems you couldn’t solve, maybe because you were too young to solve them, or you didn’t have enough resources at the time. So for example, you may have learned not to show any emotion as a child to avoid being hurt or because you believe that your intense emotions would hurt another person. Your core belief in this case might be showing people how I feel is dangerous and then it becomes unconscious. But this strategy can be detrimental in many areas of your adult life, understanding that such damaging core beliefs, no longer function for you can help you shift to a new guiding principle that will serve you better.
So here’s an example from a former patient. His name was David and David and his older brother often got into fights. David was a very sickly child when he was younger and his mother was over protective of him and this, whenever they would get into any kind of mischief and the mother would punish David’s older brother, but would just tell him, go to your room and calm down. Now David’s brother would then come into his room and he would punish his younger brother. So David coped by finding comfort and solace in food and as a result, he gained a lot of weight as a child. And by the time he was a teenager, he was bigger than his older brother and unconsciously he felt safer and less vulnerable when he was living in a larger body. When his brother tried to fight with him. David was no longer afraid and as an adult, he was able to identify when we went through this process in the anchor program, he identified a core belief from his past of biger is better, which explained his difficulty and staying at his desired weight. So bigger is better for David. He felt more safe and less vulnerable, and that came from his childhood. So, for example, in his marriage where his wife was the financial heavyweight, whenever David would lose weight, he would feel too vulnerable. And the same thing went on at work and another areas of his life.
So we’ll talk more about David later, but let’s start by defining what our core beliefs. So core beliefs are beliefs that, as I said are formed when you were younger during times of trauma transition or emotional upheaval, and they later became unconscious. So I’m talking about emotional upheaval when you, you may be thinking, well, I haven’t had any emotional upheaval when I was a child. But just think about if you were in a family where your parents got divorced and maybe it was a very difficult divorce or you witnessed domestic violence or you yourself experienced trauma or adverse childhood experiences such as abuse, neglect and so on. We’ve talked about this in the past, but these traumas, these difficult adversities then lead to the core beliefs. I want you to start connecting the dots. So core beliefs then represent the way you see yourself, other people, the world, and your future. So think about David when his core belief is bigger is better. So when he would lose weight, he saw the world as very unsafe and dangerous for him.
Okay. So core beliefs are usually related to primal needs. So this is really important for you to be able to identify your own core beliefs you have to recognize that they relate to a primal need, such as the need for safety attention, recognition, love trust, et cetera. And these core beliefs are often come into play or are activated in situations that you perceive as threatening to these primal needs. So these beliefs were formed as a way of coping with the problem in your life that perhaps you were too young or too inexperienced to deal with.
So in David’s case, the problem was, you know, being beaten up by his older brother, and that was a regular experience for him, that, and he found that too difficult to cope with. Until you became an adolescent and he developed this bigger is better belief because he felt safer when he was in a body that was larger and stronger than his older brother.
Now research highlights the importance of addressing these negative core beliefs. When they are not addressed, you may find it more difficult to stop unhealthy behaviors. Negative core beliefs, play an important role in the development and maintenance of some of the food and body image issues that people are dealing with core beliefs have also been implicated in the difficulty in some women with food and body image issues of becoming more aware of and learning to express their emotions.
Now, if you wonder how that connects with this, you want to go back to step two about the emotional soup and get a better understanding of what traumatic experiences have to do with difficulty identifying and expressing emotion. Core beliefs come out of adverse childhood experiences or insecure attachment styles. And I spoke about that in the, I think podcast 100 on in embracing the body’s wisdom. So again, if you miss that, go back to podcast 100 and we’ll talk a little bit more in detail in that one about attachment styles. So core beliefs come from trauma or come from insecure attachment, and they make it difficult for you to stop your behaviors and they also make it difficult for you to identify and express your emotions.
Okay. So I said before, sometimes core beliefs are related to trauma abuse or neglect, but they can also come from other experiences that you had in your family growing up. So I’m going to give you a list of typical family scenarios that lead to specific beliefs. See if any of the these match your family situation and any core beliefs you may hold. So I’m going to go through about four or five and we’ll start with this one. If you come from an explosive, detached, abusive, or unpredictable home. So the kind of home where you come home from schooling, you don’t know what you’re going to be facing at home. So that would be either abusive or unpredictable or explosive someone is explosive in your family, then you may have one of these beliefs. Number one, I can’t count on others to be there for me. And I’ll always lose the ones I love. Number two, other people will take advantage of me. Number three, I don’t belong I’m an outsider. Number four, something is wrong with me and no one will love me if they really get to know me. And number five, I haven’t lived up to my potential so why try.
Okay. The second family scenario is children with enmeshed or overly close relationship with one or both parents where their judgment is always undermined or they come from over-protective homes like helicopter parents, or some people call them drone parents now, or, and they may develop one of these beliefs. Okay. Belief number one, I can’t take care of myself. I feel incompetent. Number two, I don’t feel safe in the world. Number three, I don’t have any direction. I feel like I’m floundering in my life. And number four, I feel like a failure. I feel inadequate.
All right. So keep listening, see if any of these, if you can relate to any of these, the third family scenario is children from really permissive or overly indulgent home. They don’t learn to respect other people. And they have poor internal limits and boundaries and they may develop one of these core beliefs. Number one, I should be able to have, or do whatever I want when I want. So a sense of entitlement. Number two I get easily frustrated. I have a hard time controlling my impulses to do certain things.
Okay. So the, now the fourth family scenario is homes where children are taught to put aside their own needs and emotions to get attention approval or love. And they may develop one of these core beliefs. Number one, I feel my needs are not as important as pleasing other people. I am afraid to express my emotions for fear someone will get angry or upset at me. Number two. I feel guilty if I put my needs before other people. And number three, status, money and achievement are very important to me.
Okay. This is the final family scenario, and this is where children grow up in a home with too many rules and they learn to suppress, control or ignore their feelings to avoid making mistakes or breaking the rules. So these are people who are terrified of making mistakes, could lead to perfectionism, as we’ve talked about before, which is can be self-sabotaging. So some of the core beliefs you might have if you grow up in a home with too many rules is number one. I believe that what can go wrong? I try my hardest, not to make mistakes. Imagine how much pressure you put on yourself. If you try to never make a mistake. Number two, I fear that my emotions will harm others or that I will be embarrassed or abandoned if I let people know how I feel. Number three. No matter what I do, it’s never good enough. And number four, if people don’t meet my expectations or I don’t meet my own expectations, I feel that they, or I should be punished. I’ve heard, I’ve really heard that one a lot. So people who grew up in these homes with too many rules, the overriding thing is suppression. And you can now start to connect the dots, just thinking about suppression and how we use food to suppress our feelings and our need for perfectionism as an example.
So where do core beliefs come from? Sometimes core beliefs can come from a perception you have about what someone else thinks about you, or a statement that was made by a family member or friend that for whatever reason stuck with you. So for example, I had a patient whose father used to tease her and call her Miss Piggy and that stuck with her into adulthood and that was park part of what drove her to constantly binge and purge and an attempt to lose weight and get past that memory. Another type of experience that can lead to the formation of negative core beliefs is childhood neglect, which actually is the most common form of childhood adversity is childhood neglect. Now childhood neglect is defined as a failure of a parent or caregiver to provide needed food, clothing, shelter medical care or supervision to the degree that the child’s safety, health and wellbeing are threatened with. So those are some other ways in which you can think about where core beliefs come from.
So what are the effects of these core beliefs? Like why are we even talking about this? Well, as I said, core beliefs represent patterns that are formed in childhood, but then are repeated unconsciously over and over and over. Now you’ll know you are in one of your core belief patterns, because you’ll have the same emotions, thoughts, judgments, body, sensations, and behaviors every time you find yourself. Behaving from one of your primary core beliefs. So you can, you may repeat the pattern of childhood emotional abuse in a clear way, for example, by being in relationships with partners who are emotionally abusive. So that should seem pretty clear. Like if you grew up in a family where you were emotionally or physically abused, then you start having relationships with partners who are emotionally or physically abusive. Well, we think that should be very clear, but many times people who are in those relationships do not recognize that they are being emotionally abused in particular. So that can be, they may not be aware that their emotional abuse in childhood is manifesting in their adult life. Or another way another effect of correlates is you may try to fight the pattern by just doing the opposite of what your belief tells you to do. For example, a person who feels inadequate and fierce failure may work 80 hours a week and in an attempt to avoid failure. Often the overworking will, of course backfire and she, or he will get sick or become depressed or lose relationships and thereby increase it, increasing their sense of failure. So either way you cannot win by either repeating the core beliefs in your adult life or trying to fight them by doing the opposite, you really need to address those core beliefs head-on so that you can heal your wound.
Almost always iss a core belief that’s in the way of achieving what you designed. Whatever your core belief. If it’s in opposition to your current goals and desires, it will benefit you to identify this belief and then decide to change it if it no longer fits you.
So let me give you a few examples of other core beliefs I’ve seen in my work with patients in the anchor program. I think all of you know, about the anchor program, my 12 week plus six month program for people with binge-eating food addiction and emotional eating. And this is one of the things that we work on in the anchor program is how to change negative core beliefs. So here’s some examples of other core beliefs that can hold you back. One, what I want or need is not important to other people. So I might as well go along with what they want. To avoid confrontation or problems. Number two, I’m better than other people. So why don’t I have fill in the blank? Number three, I’m a failure. I’m stupid. I’m less successful than I should be. Number four, I feel empty. I’m floundering. I have no direction. Number five, I feel incompetent. I can’t take care of myself. I feel helpless. Number six, I don’t belong. I feel unwanted, isolated or different from other people. Number seven, I’m imperfect or something’s wrong with me? Number eight. I am a bad or unworthy person. And if this one is true for you, you may be one of those people who’s hypersensitive to criticism or rejection. Okay. Number eight, I’m weak and bad things will happen to me because of that. Number nine other people take will take advantage of me. I always get the short end of the stick. I often feel cheated. That’s a really common one. And I think this is number nine. I’m not sure I lost track of my count there. I don’t feel safe. And then finally the last one, I can’t depend on other people to meet my needs.
Okay. I hope this has given you a clearer picture. I think, I just want to mention again, that these core beliefs are unconscious and they’re driving the show. So they are underneath the emotions, the body image issues and body sensation. The emotional soup and the behaviors and the core beliefs are the driving force between all of those other levels, those steps that you need to heal from in order to recover.
So how can you change your core belief? Well being under the influence of core beliefs is it’s kind of like living in a dream, you know, when you’re asleep and you have a vivid dream and the dream can seem completely real. I don’t know how many you guys have those kinds of dreams, but I frequently have these vivid dreams and I wake up and they feel it was a scary dream. I’m still afraid when I’m awake or if it’s a sad dream. I’m still crying when I wake cause it feels so real well in order to change your core belief, you have to change your perspective. In other words, wake up from the dream. As for example, David’s belief that bigger is better affected his marriage and his work, his perspective that he was not safe, that he didn’t have enough power, unless he was bigger was a child’s view of his life situation. When he became aware of this core belief and its effect on his adult life, he then has the choice and the possibility to shift his perspective and see this and believe from an adult viewpoint and then ask himself, does this still fit for me. So his new core belief was he did this and the anchor program and his new core belief was motivated by his desire to be there for his kids. So his new core belief was when I take care of my body in a healthy way, I’m able to do more things with my kids. So that. Is he is going to replace the old belief, a big risk better with this new belief. And when you become aware of your core beliefs, you can decide to honor their place in your life. And the earlier benefit you receive. So David’s belief bigger is better did make him feel safe against his older brother when they were fighting. Then you can also recognize that you are no longer the frightened, sad, or rebellious child or teen who first developed this belief and can become aware of the fact that you have more skills for dealing with life’s problems than you did as a child. Finally, now that you’re an adult, your current needs and challenges may be different from those of your younger self and therefore your core beliefs may no longer apply.
Okay. So I hope this was helpful and helping you to understand what core beliefs are as well as helping you to identify your own core belief. So I want to give you a little bit of homework and these are three questions you can work on and journal about the first question. And I’ll put this in the show notes, so you don’t have to worry. The first question is, can you identify a core belief from the family scenarios that I gave? Number two. If you’re able to identify core belief, ask yourself whether this core belief still fits for you or simply a remnant from your past. And number three, if it no longer fits what is a new core belief that you can put in its place.
Okay. Thank you for listening. And I will see you next time with step number five, the final step in the five steps to recovery.
I hope this was helpful for you to learn about core beliefs and that you’re starting to connect the dots by putting together steps 1, 2, 3, and now four to understand how you got to where you are now and maybe what some of the underlying causes are. This is the kind of work that I do with my clients in the anchor program. And I just wanted to tell you that we have, obviously we’re going almost to the end of the year, and I know many, many, many people will be starting to think about new year’s resolutions. And I hope if you’re listening to my podcast, that you will not. One of those people who sets a new year’s resolution. Such as you know, going on a diet, but instead thinks about what a true change in you, your life might take. What would it take to truly make the changes you want to make in your life? Uh, that’s important and if you are ready to start making those changes, If you’re ready to take the next step, then please look in the show notes and schedule the free consult to see if the anchor program is right for you. I also want to remind you that we still are giving away free copies of my book, the food addiction, recovery workbook. Please get that copy before this promotion ends and we have two options you can, I think mainly right now, most people are drawn towards getting the e-book, uh, because you can get that right now, but you still can get a hard copy of the book if you choose. And I will put the links for both of those in the show notes. Please give me a review and share this podcast with anybody you think might benefit and I look forward to talking with you in episode number 10 2, which is finding soul satisfaction. That is the fifth and ultimate step and I think you’re going to find that very interesting. And hopefully you’ve been following along with each of the steps and doing the homework. And so this will cap it off for you and give me some pretty profound insights.
Thanks for listening, Dr. Carolyn signing off.