Recently I have been reading about inner beliefs and the way they affect our thoughts. Inner beliefs are very strong views about the world or ourselves and are automatic, because they are deeply ingrained in ourselves. Sometimes these can be distorted, which causes us to have unhealthy negative thoughts.
Some examples of inner beliefs that cause negative thinking – I can certainly recognise a few for myself:
- My worth as a person depends on what other people think of me.
- If I can’t do something well, there’s no point in doing it at all.
- Unless I’m loved, I can’t be happy.
- I must be useful, productive or creative, or life has no purpose.
- It’s shameful to show signs of weakness.
- If I’m alone, then I’ll be lonely and miserable.
- You should always put other people first, not to do so is selfish.
Our beliefs have developed in the course of the years and have been influenced by our experiences, such as early life experience within the family or personal relationships. For our inner health, we have to challenge negative beliefs we may have.
But how to do that? Well, it’s necessary to change our stance, explore different and more affirmative perspectives. This is a process that will require time and effort. Initially, we have to become aware of those unhealthy inner beliefs that drag us down. Once we learnt to recognise them, we can start acting on them when they appear. With time and practice, we can improve our interaction with the world, the way we think and how this affects our feelings and inner balance. (Some of you may recognise CBT ideas in these words)
Some examples of more helpful positive inner beliefs can be:
- Everyone makes mistakes.
- I do many things well.
- My own opinion of myself is most important.
- There are many people who like me.
Because the way we think affects the way we feel, it’s very important to have a positive way of thinking. We could imagine our thoughts as being the leaves of our tree, while the beliefs would be its roots. The latter are hidden, but run deep and feed the tree of our life. If the roots are poisoned, the tree will be ill and may die. Healthy roots will keep the tree stable and make it grow well.
There are techniques to uncover your unhelpful inner beliefs: for example, when having a thought that causes us distress, we can drill down to the roots of such thought, to expose the inner belief that is at the foundation of the distressing thought. Once we know the deep cause, we can attempt to change.
Another important component of a healthy relation to ourselves is to acknowledge our successes – small and big. Often, we don’t give a second thought to our achievements, but dwell long on pondering about our failures or shortcomings. I do that all too often, but I decided to change this part of my behaviour. Writing down our daily/weekly successes could be a way to record and stick them in our memory.
Further, when we recognise an achievement of ours, we also need to take credit for it. So instead of “I won the award because the competition was weak“, it’s better to acknowledge (if true) that “I won it because I’m a good student/scientist/artist/other“.
I shared a few of the topics I’ve been reading and pondering about recently. I hope that you found some wisdom in these, or it made for an interesting read. Well done for reading up to this point!