Research Paper By Crystal Thomas, M.A.
(Life Coach, UNITED STATES)
As human beings we are extremely complex. Over the course of a lifetime, we have a magnitude of experiences, encounters, mishaps, highs and lows; and in the process beliefs are created and or shaped. The way we behave is a reflection of what we believe. In fact, we are who and what we believe. A belief is defined as an opinion or conviction (“Dictionary.com,”2012). We form our beliefs through our environment (relationships, culture, family, incidents). It is the core of who we are. Most of our beliefs are subconscious and is deeply ingrained to our sense of self and how we do things. Because beliefs are deeply ingrained, most people cannot see them without self-awareness. We carry our beliefs around with us subconsciously and as a result react to our environment. The deepest beliefs are learned and stored over a lifetime and we pick it up from our family, school, friends, etc. Sometimes, our conscious thoughts conflict with our underlying beliefs and can be perceived as a barrier in life. At times, there is a contradiction between what a person may want to achieve and what a person will do. By understanding and having awareness of one’s underlying beliefs, one can understand their motivation or intent behind their behaviors. In examining underlying beliefs closely, one will gain a closer understanding of the process of underlying beliefs and how it affects behaviors and one’s life.
Underlying Beliefs Role
The mind is defined as the part of the human that reasons, thinks, feels, memory, wills perceives, or judges (“Dictionary.com,”2009). In psychology the mind is defined as the totality of the conscious and the unconscious mental processes and activities. The mind is frequently synonymous with thought: the private conversation with ourselves that we carry on “inside our heads.” Thus we “make up our minds,” “change our minds” or are “of two minds” about something (“Dictionary.com,”2009). No one else can “know our mind.” They can only interpret what we consciously or unconsciously communicate. In our mind we form certain beliefs that something is true. Core beliefs are the long-standing views that we hold about ourselves, other people, the world and the future. Usually formed during childhood or other important times in our lives, they serve us as a sort of ‘guide’ to life – they tell us how things are. We filter our experiences according to our beliefs – in a way, it’s how we make sense of the world.
These core beliefs are sometimes helpful, and sometimes just the opposite. They can work against us, thwarting all our efforts to grow, be happy, and get ahead in life. They aren’t always accurate, and in fact can be grossly skewed at times. But nevertheless – they always make sense, at least according to our experiences (Dunbar, 2010). If you were able to rewind your life and watch it in slow motion from its very beginning, you would be able to see the key times when certain beliefs were formed and you would understand why you developed those beliefs.
Core beliefs, especially negative ones, can lie dormant most of the time and only become activated when a crucial situation triggers them. For example, if a person was bit by a dog as a child, they may develop the belief that all dogs and even pets are “bad” and thus refuse to engage with a pet.
Beliefs can positively affect the growth and maturity of a person and other beliefs can stagnant the growth and present as a barrier in one’s life. Negative core beliefs can be rigid and exaggerative and not open to other possibilities or evidence. If a student is a perfectionist and receives a B on a paper, a negative core belief may be, “I am a failure because only failures get Bs”, and thus present certain anxious responses and withdrawal behaviors. This person has labeled and identified himself as a failure which can be perceived as harsh and rigid. This person did not see his strengths and all the wonderful things about his paper, identified himself with the areas of improvement. This person will not look at this being an opportunity to grow and learn, but be stuck in the misbelief of himself. A positive core belief may be, “Well, I tried my best and will learn from the mistakes that I made on this paper. I am a hard worker and determined to improve”. This person is open to evolving and accepts what has happened as a way to improve.