Uprooting Core Beliefs“If you don’t change your beliefs, your life will be like this forever. Is that good news?”
– W. Somerset Maugham, British author
Clayton was determined to remove the old tree from his front yard. Cutting it down turned out to be the easy part of the task. Removing the deep-set roots was another matter.
Clayton dug and chopped all day but couldn’t extricate the root mass from the ground. In frustration, he chained onto it with his truck and tried to yank it out of the ground. The chain broke, sending the clevis crashing through the back window, narrowly missing Clayton’s head. He wasn’t making any progress, and was doing more harm than good.
Core beliefs – typically, those formed earliest in life – can be as difficult to uproot as Clayton’s tree but necessary if you’re ever going to improve your self-esteem and begin living the life you desire. Perhaps you’ve figuratively chopped, dug, and yanked at old self-defeating ideas only to find them still rooted firmly in your psyche. Changing a deeply embedded core belief can prove a daunting task, but there are some effective techniques available to you.
One way to expose your core beliefs is to check your self-talk, especially in times of stress. Do you think such things as “Why do I try?” or “I just knew I would fail”? Likely, these statements are the result of a core belief that you’re undeserving or incapable of success.
Look around you. What do you see? Can you detect any recurring themes or patterns? Do your relationships eventually fail? Are you constantly in debt? Do people treat you with disrespect? Once you see a pattern ask yourself what the underlying belief might be. Perhaps your core beliefs are, “Money is hard to come by and even harder to keep,” “I’m not good with people,” or “I’m unimportant or insignificant.” Listen carefully, and you’ll start to get clues.
Sometimes, the sudden understanding of why you react the way you do is enough to uproot old and self-defeating thought processes. More than likely, you’ll need to do a lot of digging and chopping. Either way, the first step toward initiating any change is always self-awareness.
Whenever you find yourself being self-critical try asking yourself if it’s true. Can you know it’s true? Does that thought bring you peace or stress? And finally, who would you be without that thought? This process is based on The Work by Byron Katie and can be tremendously useful. The moment you recognize a self-defeating thought, put it through this litmus test. Try reversing the statement and see how it fits and feels. Stop, reflect and reassess.
Remember: your experiences have provided you with this core belief. Many times, a belief was created to keep you safe and protect you from more pain and suffering. The belief may have served you well at one point but now, years later, may be causing you harm.
Armenian-Russian author Vera Nazarian wrote, “Before it is too late, go out there and find someone who, in your opinion, believes, assumes, or considers certain things very strongly and differently from you, and just have a basic honest conversation. It will do both of you good.”
Keep working on those old, outdated beliefs. It might happen within days, months or even years. Know, no matter how long it takes, that you are worth it, and the effort to create those new core beliefs is worth it, especially when they will allow you to enjoy a happier existence.
As for Clayton, he finally hired a tow truck to remove the tree. The driver wrapped his cable around the roots and, by lifting straight up, easily popped the mass out of the ground.
With the right technique, anything is possible.
Murray Fuhrer is a self-esteem expert and facilitator. His most recent book is entitled Extreme Esteem: The Four Factors. For more information on self-esteem, check the Extreme Esteem website at www.extremeesteem.ca