Core Beliefs in Addiction Recovery

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Hi it's Dermot again. If you read my last blog from 31st March, you will know that this is a follow up to that blog and part of a "Recovery from Addiction Series", If not read on:

I've decided to cover Core Beliefs as part and apart from beliefs. I am a true believer that Recovery & Life are about moving forward, not dwelling on the past or trying to find out the Why's & How's of my life to date. However, Core Beliefs are important to address as they can unlock a lot of cognitive distortions (unhelpful thought patterns) that have become entrenched in us from an early age. This blog is from a lecture I present where I work: 


A) What are Core Beliefs.

B) Identifying Core Beliefs.

C) Challenging Core Beliefs.

D)Talk with someone else.

E) Focusing Only on the Positive.

F) Letting go technique.

What are Core Beliefs?

-Fixed statements and ideas that we have about ourselves.

-How we feel about ourselves.

-Help us to make sense of our World

-Formed in childhood & early experiences develop them into rigid assumptions about:

1.How we see ourselves

2.How we judge what we do

3.How we view the future

-Negative Core Belief = Negative Automatic thoughts= Negative emotions

-Example 1:
If your Core Belief is that “no one likes me”,
Your Negative Automatic Thoughts (NATS) will be “nobody listens to me”, “no one has any time for me”, “I’m always to blame”, “I’m overlooked”, “no one laughs at my jokes”, “I don’t have a say”, “He’s looking at me strangely”. Etcetera.

-Example 2:
If your Core Belief is that “I am stupid”,
Your Negative Automatic Thoughts (NATS) will be “I never get anything right”, “I'm always being told off when I get things wrong”, “I’m a failure”, “I’m ignored”, “no one ever compliments me”, “I always got bad grades”, “no one ever asked for my opinion or advice”. Etcetera.-

These NATS become underlying assumptions which we believe to be true about us thus reinforcing the Core Belief.

NATS become negative emotions, like paranoia, anxiety, depression & other fear based emotions.
Negative emotions lead to physical sensations, like pit in your stomach, head aches, other aches and pains.
Aches and pains lead to ill physical health, which in turn leads to worry……… whole cycle continues


The "So What Method";
-Take a negative thought and keep asking yourself “So What? If this was true, what would this mean about me?”
Keep repeating this question until you find you core belief
Your core belief will be identified by the way you also feel about yourself.

Example 1:
NAT: “I wasn’t sent an invite” (SO WHAT? If this was true, what would this mean about me?)
NAT: “They don’t value me, I’m always overlooked”. (SO WHAT? If this was true, what would that mean about me?)
NAT: “No one cares about me, I might as well not exist”. (SO WHAT? If this was true, what would this mean about me?)
Core Belief/ feeling: “I’m worthless”

Example 2:
NAT: “I only came 2nd in the race” (SO WHAT? If this was true, what would this mean about me?)
NAT: “I should have done better, trained harder”. (SO WHAT? If this was true, what would that mean about me?)
NAT: “I should not have even bothered entering the race in the first place”. (SO WHAT? If this was true, what would this mean about me?)
Core Belief/ feeling: “I’m a loser”

-Identifying your own Core Beliefs can assist you in understanding why you have negative thoughts about yourself and your abilities.

-Identifying your own Core Beliefs can assist you in understanding why you have and repeat self defeating behaviours .

-Identifying your own Core Beliefs can assist you in understanding why you feel negative and dislike yourself.

-Identifying your own Core Beliefs can assist you in understanding why you might have poor health.

-Once you have this self awareness you can begin to get out of its grasp.


Now that we have begun Identifying our core beliefs/ feelings through our own negative automatic thoughts, we can begin to challenge them by;

-Looking at the bigger picture or whole story.

-Look at the evidence that does not support the thought.

-We need to focus on evidence that does not support our core belief.

-You need to play detective here and leave no stone unturned as any doubt can cause the process to backfire.

-By doing this with an open mind you will be pleasantly surprised at the outcome that you will find.

-What you once believed to be true about you was only ever created by you, thus can be changed, by you.

-Every problem or perceived problem in life was indirectly created by you. You attracted it, so every solution to every problem can also be created by you, by letting the problem go, if it is in the past, or dealing with it now if in the present

Core Belief - I feel I am a bad person.
NAT: “I am always annoying people”, “I get into trouble”, “I am always being nagged or told off”. “People avoid me”, “I can’t do anything right”.
Action: Keep a record or daily diary and make a record of every positive thing someone sais or does about and for you today.
Results: “Another driver let me in”, “Stranger smiled at me”, “A colleague made me tea”, “Shared a joke and a laugh”….

Results speak for themselves and positive things do happen all the time to us all.
We need to repeat the diary exercise for each Core Belief/feeling, until we turn it around.

Once we are aware of them, then we can challenge those ever present Negative Automatic Thoughts and change around to Positive Thoughts and eventually change our Core Belief to a more positive one.

Once our Core Belief is positive, the negative thoughts will be replaced by Positive Automatic Thoughts.

How best to do this……….

Talk with Someone else

Core Beliefs can very strong and hard to  change on our own.

Even with the use of a diary and evidence that does not support the Core Belief, we can still live in doubt and remain stuck.

At this point it is important to have the opinion of someone else to challenge our own Core Beliefs and Negative Automatic Thoughts.

Peer groups, One to one sessions, and even talking with friends can help immensely.

Focusing ONLY on the positive

Saying to yourself “I will not be negative” will ONLY ATTRACT more negativity.
You need to say “I am a Positive Person” or “I have a lot of positive attributes” and that will attract more positivity.

Also you need to stay in the present, never use “I will” as that will always be out there.
Act as if.

Letting go of negative feelings

Close your eyes and bring up a negative feeling; example: Guilt.

Feel the feeling inside as a physical sensation.

Let go of the thought.

Follow the feeling, don’t resist, analyse, or judge it.

Notice the energy behind the feeling.

Let it go…. As you exhale and breath out.

Do this as often as you can, with every negative feeling and Core Belief that comes up.

In no time you will start to feel better.

Sum up

We all have the ability to challenge, thus change our Core Beliefs.

In recovery, self belief is a necessity not a luxury.

Positive thinking lead to positive feelings, leads to more positive thoughts, physical sensations and Positive behaviours.

These in turn will challenge old Core Beliefs and replace them with positive new Core Beliefs.

You have come this far, so why not go the rest of the way.

My next article is on Blame, stay tuned.

The article "Recovery from Addiction Series" Core Beliefs is the opinion of the author and if you would like to contribute to it, please leave a comment in the comment box below. If you want to subscribe, for free, to any further blogs of mine please click on the blue box below.

Growth in Recovery and in life, takes commitment & courage, but if you are not willing to take a risk, and push your boundaries, even a little then you will be stuck where you are, until you do.

If, like me & you are in recovery, then I know your pain & you have been to hell and back. But think of this, you are not a victim, but a survivor and as a survivor you deserve to give yourself every opportunity you possibly can. "Keep breaking the mould and keep it real"

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