Next to each thought ask “Why?” and ask the questions, “Why is that so bad/Why is that so important?” Keep asking these questions until you reach a core answer.
For example, you might write, “I hate how my friend keeps interrupting me.” Why is that so bad? “Because I want to be listened to.” Why? “Because I want to be cared for.” Why? “Because I feel like no one cares about what I have to say.” Why is that so important? “Because I feel alone and worthless.” From this example, we can ascertain that the core beliefs would be, “I am worthless” and/or “I am alone.”
4. Painful emotions are your friends
Uncovering your toxic core beliefs can be invigorating and empowering – but also intimidating and a little scary. Remember that painful emotions are your friends. In other words, being brutally honest with yourself is essential. Paying attention to fluxes and surges of unpleasant emotions will help you to uncover your inner blockages.
Do you feel anxious, gutted, enraged, self-conscious, insecure, nauseous, or otherwise uncomfortable in your own skin? Good. You know that you’re coming close to unveiling a core belief of yours. It’s like pulling out a splinter: you’ll feel the pinch of sharp pain first, but that’s a necessary part of the healing process.
5. Practice self-compassion
Throughout this process, it’s crucial that you be gentle and kind toward yourself. Extracting your toxic core beliefs can backfire if you use the information as an opportunity to bully yourself. Please don’t do that. You didn’t choose to have these toxic core beliefs: they developed as part of your childhood wounding and conditioning. So be compassionate and go at your own pace – that will make this journey into something nourishing and empowering, not into a witch hunt meant to ‘eradicate’ all of your demons.
How to Change Your Toxic Core Beliefs in 9 Steps
As we’ve seen, core beliefs are the fundamental convictions we have about ourselves – they are the so-called “absolute truths” we have adopted throughout the course of our entire lives, usually starting in childhood.
For example, if we had an emotionally unstable father as children who constantly punished us and called us “stupid,” it’s likely that we would then develop the core belief that we are “stupid” or “worthless.” Or if we had a neurotic mother who was constantly warning us to “be safe,” we might have developed the belief that “we are not safe,” creating an endless array of psychological problems in our later lives.
Once you have discovered your core beliefs, the next step is to actively replace them. Below I’ll show you how to change your core beliefs in a relatively straightforward way.
Keep in mind that any form of inner work demands time, energy, and persistence. But remember, everything you put out is returned to you tenfold!
1. Identify one core belief at a time
It’s pointless trying to rush the process of healing by trying to solve every core belief you’ve identified all at once. Start with the most severe and persistent core belief first. Often you’ll discover that there is one main core belief that seems to pervade a lot of what you think, feel and do. Target this one first. The smaller and less persistent core beliefs (i.e., the ones that fluctuate with your mood) can come later.
2. Understand how the core belief impacts your life
In order to truly motivate yourself to change your core belief, you must genuinely understand the impact it has on your everyday life and your life at large. Meditate or write down the answer to the following question, “How does this core belief impact my life?” You might respond, for instance, “It stops me from feeling confident. It makes me more anxious in public. It makes me doubt and hate myself. It causes me to lose friendships,” etc. Knowing how your core belief harms you will motivate you to make some serious changes.