by Jeffrey Smith, LMFT , AC
Human beings identify themselves with learned self beliefs that are a product of our genetic makeup and the collection of our life experiences. We call these “core beliefs” – they can be both positive or negative. These experiences of “self” and their interpretations become encoded in the circuitry of our memory networks. We believe this circuitry is WHO WE ARE and we become imprisoned by our misconceptions. The process toward experiencing joy and purpose in life starts by identifying our untrue or negative beliefs, seeking the truth or real perception of our experiences and working toward re encoding the true beliefs of who we really are – the way God sees us!
When we operate (live) from a position of truth (reality), we (mind, emotions, body & spirit) are in harmony with the universe. We call this state “acceptance” or “dealing with the reality of what is”. When we operate from a position of false information, false beliefs or lies, we are in a state of chaos, become reactive and we loose our self confidence and self acceptance in the process. The polygraph device operates on the concept that if the thoughts are out of synchronicity with known facts (reality), the entire body will reflect it.
Whether this reality is positive or negative is not the issue, the important point is to create a willingness to be aware of what core belief systems we are operating on in any given situation. Our positive core beliefs will allow us to accept and flow with what is happening around us and our negative core beliefs will inhibit our ability to move forward and thus become “stuck” in our thoughts which create feelings and in turn generate behaviors.
Our core beliefs are formed in childhood. Many researchers believe that over half of what we come to understand and believe about ourselves is already formed by the age of five. Right or wrong, these core beliefs are the foundation from which our thoughts are formed. Think of them like the roots of a tree buried deep below the ground. These belief systems are partly conscious and partly unconscious. They are the raw material that emerges in both our day dreams and our night dreams. Unrecognized and left alone, they are degenerative and will rob us of our ability to attach (love, be loved, trust, be trusted) and relax (experience joy and purpose).
An example of a positive core belief would be “I am lovable”. The opposite “I am unlovable” would be a negative core belief. Core beliefs fall into three general categories, one of which has two sub-categories.
1. Safety / Vulnerability Theme
(I cannot trust myself vs. I can learn to trust myself)
2. Control / Choices Theme
(I am powerless (helpless) vs. I now have choices)
3. Responsibility Theme –
a. I am Defective (I am different vs. I am OK as I am)
b. I did something wrong (I should have known better vs. I do the best I can)
Core belief systems emerge as we categorize the events that happen to us and assign meaning to them. Our thoughts are believed to be stored in the limbic structure and temporal lobes of our brains. They are not stored in any one physical location like books on a shelf in a library. Instead they are stored in the connections and links between our brain cells (neurons). The present neurobiology research has suggested that we have over 100 billion neurons. Each neuron has multiple connections to other brain cells thus creating a marvelous memory network of over a quadrillion connections (a million billion). That numbers more connections in our brain than all the stars in the known universe.
Thoughts tend to be grouped with regard to time. They are categorized based on things past, things present and things yet to be. Our core beliefs (thoughts) also appear to follow this pattern and we each seem to have one domain that is more dominant that the rest. For example, someone with a negative core belief in the Safety / Vulnerability Theme of “I cannot trust myself” would tend to dwell in the past as they remind themselves of all their mistakes and bad choices. Another example of a negative core belief from the Responsibility Theme – a. “I am Defective (I am different)”, would tend to worry about fitting in. They would certainly have past memories of all the times they were humiliated or rejected and that data would provoke stress and anxiety anytime an event they want to participate in involves other people. This last example would be one where the person has a tendency to be in both the past and the future with regard to the domain their thoughts are in, but primarily in the future as they typically withdraw and are not apt to attend social functions.
We will continue to explore how to identify our negative core belief systems, hear ourselves when we are operating on them, catch what time domain we are thinking from and then explore alternatives toward getting back to reality and operating on positive core beliefs instead. We will ultimately enjoy our feelings more and certainly like our new and more mature behaviors.