Why Self-Awareness & Insight are Not Enough
You get that mastery of your thinking is key to your happiness and success. Your negative thoughts generate your negative emotions, which lead to your negative choices and behaviours, which ultimately lead to your negative results. But how do you change your thoughts that are so automatic?
To change your thoughts, you have to address the engines fueling your thoughts: your core beliefs
If you do not address the level of your most powerful and entrenched core beliefs, you will not penetrate deep enough into your mind to affect change.
But it’s not a matter of just willing yourself to believe something different!
Just like you can’t switch your thoughts on a dime, it’s not simply a matter of deciding to believe something and then believing it. If it were, everyone would be just believing and getting the life they desire.
Your core beliefs are your truths
From the moment you were conceived, everything you felt, saw, heard and experienced was recorded by your mind to create the network of beliefs that form your view of your personal reality. They are premises – accepted with or without proof – which allow you to explain your past and predict your future. They are a secure foundation upon which you built your understanding of reality. They have become interwoven in the fabric of who you are and how you perceive yourself, others, and life itself.
Someone wise once said: “A belief is not an idea held by the mind, it is an idea that holds the mind.”
The core beliefs that give you the most problems as adults are the ones that were created or adopted before you were 6 years old, before you were conscious and had developed the ability to reason. These beliefs were formed to protect you, to make sense of things. ”If mommy’s mad, I must be bad” of course isn’t true but is a perfectly understandable and natural explanation for a child to make. These simplistic, black and white beliefs become entrenched in your mind. They become permanent perceptual filters through which you view yourself and everything that happens to you – without you even thinking about it. Your reactions, then, become automatic.
The core beliefs you don’t know about are running the show
The core beliefs that you formed in response to incidents you don’t remember when you were not yet conscious are the engines fuelling your current thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Your repetitive, habitual feelings and self-limiting patterns are being run automatically by your core beliefs – whether you are aware of them or not! These biased beliefs are running beneath the level of consciousness. That’s why you can’t affect them on the conscious level. As Byron Katie says, “Beliefs are religions we unconsciously live.”
CEO Mike was dumbfounded to learn in his CBE session that the reason he had tremendous difficulty speaking in front of groups of people stemmed from the humiliation he hadn’t remembered experiencing in kindergarten. Part of him was still stuck in a time warp at age 4 in which he was being ridiculed when his lunch box exploded in front of his classmates. Whenever he found himself in front of a group, he subconsciously re-experienced the shame of this original experience where he formed the core belief, “It’s unsafe to be in front of people” and decided to keep to himself and avoid groups. Despite knowing that his leadership was valued and needed by his teams and his board of directors, Mike couldn’t shake his automatic emotional reaction. Once he was able to examine and change the origins of his undermining core beliefs in a day-long CBE session, his intense negative reactions were no longer needed. His unnerving discomfort gave way to natural confidence and ease.
Your core beliefs create self-fulfilling prophecies
As you move through life, your core beliefs collect evidence to support and validate their existence, and therefore get further solidified and entrenched in your mind. If you believe that life is a struggle and full of people who are out to get you, then this is how you will perceive and respond to everything that happens to you. If you believe you are fundamentally unlovable, you will not allow yourself to receive love, you will not be able to believe that you are loved by the people who love you (which is very frustrating for those people), and you will run various strategies that push away love or sabotage it or destroy it – airtight strategies that prove how unlovable you believe you are. Your core belief systems will not allow you to see, accept, or know what you do not believe. Contrary messages will be blocked, distorted, or simply rejected by your mind. As Anais Nin states: “We don’t see things as they are; we see things as we are.”
Your core beliefs remain frozen in time warps, unaffected by new awareness and insight
You would just assume that as you age, learn, and mature, your belief systems would automatically update and mature with you. But unfortunately, that is not the case! Your core beliefs usually remain frozen in time at the age they were created. Stuck in a time warp, their outdated perspectives and tapes remain active within you, so you have historic reactions to present-day circumstances.
Your mind is brilliantly compartmentalized
Your core beliefs are protective forces that result in the formation of compartmentalized units in your mind. Your core beliefs are linked to specific emotionally significant (not necessarily traumatic) experiences in your childhood. What happens is the mind forms a compartment in which it houses the energy and unresolved emotions attached to the original event, the core beliefs created at the time of the event, and all of the associated decisions, triggers, patterns, coping strategies, and defense mechanisms connected to the experience. Your parts are strongly self-protective and won’t just give up a belief easily. Rather, they will defend and rationalize their beliefs based on their outdated perception of reality in which they remain suspended.
The same core belief can show up in different ways
Let’s take the core belief, “I’m not good enough.” For example, some circumstances may trigger you to feel not good enough and then automatically go into the over-achieving reaction of, “I’ll show them! I’ll prove them wrong!” While other incidents may trigger you to feel not good enough and then automatically go into the defeated, victimized reaction of, “Shut down. Disappear. Be as small and as invisible as possible to avoid further pain.” While again, another, different situation may trigger you to feel not good enough and then automatically go into a persecuting reaction of beating yourself up. Same core belief; different parts. Brilliant, complex mind.
Awareness has no chance when pitted against your core beliefs
Awareness doesn’t have a leg to stand on when facing off against a contradictory core belief. This is why some people have limited success with affirmations. If an empowering affirmation, such as “I am successful” is suggested to a mind that is already open and accepting of this concept, the belief will resonate as truth and expand. It’s like a seed being planted in fertile soil. However, if the affirmation “I am successful” is met with resistance — a contradictory core belief like “I am a failure” or “I don’t deserve to succeed” or “I am unworthy” — that affirmation will be overruled or trumped. It will be kicked out of the mind, so to speak. Invalidated. Rejected.
What you feel to be true will trump what you think is true. Every. Time
Despite the fact that you know something is true, if you feel the opposite, the feeling will win, even if it’s not true. For example, Sandra knows how to communicate and can be quite articulate at times. However, when it comes time to open her mouth in certain, specific circumstances in which she incorrectly perceives herself to be inferior, her words come out garbled. Part of her is afraid to speak, afraid of being seen as not good enough, afraid of being judged or rejected by those she incorrectly considers superior. That part is trying to protect her by telling her to keep her mouth shut, to not risk it, it’s too dangerous. In reality, nothing could be farther from the truth. It is safe for Sandra to speak. She is among peers who listen to her and respect her opinion. However, because the part producing the negative reaction remains trapped in its original, outdated perspective, it is not aware of the change in Sandra’s circumstances or her current reality (her father used to be very critical and harsh). Mechanistically, her part just continues to do what it does because that is what it was created to do. Until this protective part is re-engineered, Sandra’s situational inferiority will continue to undermine her self-expression.
The process of actually changing your limiting core beliefs takes something!
It’s not just a matter of having an insight and your mind shifting. It’s not just a matter of talking to yourself and getting your mind to update. It doesn’t seem to work that way. Surface-level ideas, strategies, tools, and habits only address the level of willpower. So many people get pumped up with new insights and positive thoughts only to be disappointed when the willpower and inspiration wear off after a few days. To get to the engine fuelling our hair trigger reactions and self-sabotaging patterns and effect true, lasting change, you need to address the level of your core beliefs. And as you’ve seen, your core beliefs do not tend to update without careful and precise intervention.
Your stuckness, while not pretty, is normal
When you do not shift in the face of new information or awareness, this indicates that you will benefit greatly from looking to the brilliant complexity of your deeper mind for the answers. There are specific, logical, trace-back-able, solvable reasons you are stuck. Your areas of stuckness are proof that your mighty core beliefs are full-blown at your service. Deeply entrenched self-protection is afoot! It’s just the way your mind was formed. It’s a result of your mind trying to help you, even though it’s currently holding you back and hurting you.
When you change at the level of your core beliefs, you change at the speed of thought
Re-engineering limiting core beliefs is my area of specialty. Core Belief Engineering sessions help people identify, examine, and change even the most soul-crushing, self-esteem prohibiting core beliefs, like I am unlovable, I am unworthy, I am not good enough, I am stupid, I am less than, I don’t deserve to exist, etc. When the false core belief is changed, everything stemming from it changes. When “I am unlovable” changes to “I am lovable” and “I love me,” all of the negative decisions, triggers, coping strategies, defense mechanisms, reactions, and assumptions change. And all of the blocks, shut downs, limitations, and barriers open up because they are not needed any more. There is no longer any fuel for their fire. The new core reality of “I am lovable” changes everything. A positive domino effect occurs automatically within the mind. Some people consider the results CBE is able to achieve to be extraordinary or even miraculous. For me, these results are typical and expected, time and time again. Welcome to my world. I am thrilled that you found me.
For more, see podcast, Method to the Madness: The Benefits of Being Stuck
“No problem is ever solved in the same consciousness that was used to create it.”