Tag Archives: core beliefs

The effects of childhood abuse

children photo

The effects of childhood abuse

The effects  of childhood abuse can last forever. It can influence your thinking, emotional state and the way you relate to others way into adulthood.  Child abuse takes a wide variety of forms.

The most common forms of childhood abuse are:

sexual abuse

neglect

emotional/verbal abuse

physical abuse

parental substance abuse and/or mental illness

children witnessing domestic violence

The long term effects of child abuse

PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, lack of emotions and hypervigilance. The traumatic past event can be triggered by a smell, similar situation or sounds.

Errors in thinking

Adults who were abused as children may have the view that the world is a dangerous place. They may distrust others and isolate themselves. Some adults behave in the opposite manner by becoming very dependent on another person (sometimes referred to as “co-dependency”). Abuse often leads to an adult who struggles to relate to others, often due to their beliefs that others can’t be trusted. Fear of intimacy can reign and cause havoc.

Emotional Distress

Severe stress as a child can alter brain chemistry. It can also affect the way the brain develops and matures, leaving a person more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. Anger is another common symptom of emotional distress.

Avoidance and disassocation

As a child, we are extremely vulnerable and don’t have a way to escape our situation. As a result, children have to learn a way to cope with the abuse on a mental and emotional level. What often happens is that children learn to disassociate and ‘compartmentalise’ the unpleasant emotions. They somehow find a mental ‘box’ where they stuff the unpleasant experiences and emotions. In its extreme form, children create separate personalities knows as multiple personality disorder. Children who are abused can form personality disorders – a distinctive and dysfunctional way of viewing the world. The brain creates unnatural pathways to cope with abuse and this affects lifelong functioning.

Some abused children go on to avoid experiences that caused upset in their childhood. The other extreme is to over compensate. Parents underestimate their influence on their children.

The first step to dealing with childhood abuse is to acknowledge what happened and that it wasn’t healthy. Therapy can help immensely, allowing adults who were abused to understand they did not deserve the abuse and that it was their parents who were to blame, not them.

We cannot change the past but we can update our thinking and beliefs about the past. An abused childhood can hold us back but only if we allow it to. As adults, we have the power to reject old childhood messages from our parents and re-create another life that is more healthy and conducive to love and happiness.

Mandy X

Thoughts on core beliefs

 

core beliefs

Thoughts on core beliefs

We all look at the world differently but it is easy to believe that others see things the same way we do. Two people can have the same experience but come away from that with a very different reaction/thought process. We all interpret the world differently according to our upbringings, genetics and past experiences.

Core beliefs are deeply held beliefs that can be hard to shake. Often, they are dysfunctional and inaccurate. For example – someone who was constantly told as a child that they are worthless will most likely internalise that and make that part of their identity, believing themselves to be worthless. Think of core beliefs like a pair of sunglasses – a kind of filter that we see the world through. We are more atuned to pick up on things around us that confirm our core beliefs and will reject or not notice things that don’t confirm our core beliefs. Events that happen that prove a person isn’t worthless may be dismissed as it doesn’t fit. This is how core beliefs can limit us unnecessarily.

How core beliefs can limit us:

Situation: You meet a new person and think about asking them to go for coffee.

Core belief – I’m not worthy = Consequence: Why would they go out with me? Don’t ask them for coffee

Core belief – I am worthy = Consequence: We might have fun if we go out together. Asks the person to go for coffee.

Many people have negative core beliefs that cause harmful consequences and limit their opportunities. They hold on to self limiting beliefs without realising it.

To begin challenging your core beliefs, you first need to identify what they are. Here are some common examples:

I am unworthy; I am  unloveable; I am unworthy; I’m ugly; I’m undeserving; I’m a bad person; I’m stupid…

What is one of your core beliefs? _______________________

List three pieces of evidence contrary to your belief_____________

Beliefs can be changed, that’s the good news. Some beliefs are old, outdated and just not true. Do a stock-take on your core beliefs and make sure you have core beliefs that support and empower you.

Mandy X

The Law of belief

 

belief

The law of belief

The law of belief states that whatever you believe, with feeling, becomes your reality. The more intensely you believe something to be true, the more likely it is that it will be true for you. Your beliefs give you a form of tunnel vision where you edit out events that do no fit with what you don’t believe – psychologists call the “confirmation bias”.

For example if you believe that you are meant to b a great success in life, you are more likely to keep pressing ahead, letting nothing stand in your way. On the other hand, if you believe that success ins a matter of luck the  you will become more easily discouraged. Your beliefs set you up either for success of for failure.

People generally have one of two ways of looking at the world.The first is what is called a benevolent world view. If you have this view you generally believe that the world is a good place to live in and you tend to see the good in people and in situations. You believe that there is room for mistakes and you are primarily optimistic in nature.

The second way of looking at the world is with a malevolent world view. This view involves seeing the world in a negative way with a pessimistic attitude. Which one are you? This type of person sees injustice, oppression and misfortune everywhere. When things go wrong for them, which they usually do,  they blame it on bad luck or bad people. Most people swing between the two and at times we can all see the world in a malevolent way.

To counteract this negative world view – train yourself to look for positive things and acts of kindness in life. You can also start a gratitude journal and list three things at the end of each day that made you smile. This is called “priming” – forcing our focus in order to think differently and notice new things that may contradict our usual pattern of thinking. We can often easily accept that we are limited in some way (too ugly, too stupid, not able enough..we all have our self doubts)and this leads us to ignore any evidence that contradicts what we’ve already chosen to believe about ourselves. Choose your beliefs carefully – you can craft a great set to fall back on – why wouldn’t you choose great ones to further you in life?

Needless to say, people with optimistic beliefs tend to be more positive and cheerful. They have upbeat mental attitudes that enable them to respond positively and constructively to the inevitable ups and downs of life.

Mandy X

Coping with social anxiety

 

social anxiety

Coping with social anxiety

Do you dread the idea of having to socialise? If you do, join the club! Many people get anxious in social situations, worrying that they will embarrass themselves somehow or not measure up to the people around them.

Cognitive behavioural therapy works well for people with social anxiety as it looks at people’s fears as well as the probability that these fears will in fact take place. More often than not, the fears we have never happened yet we still worry endlessly about what might go wrong. The anticipation in itself can be hell.

A useful technique is to visualise everything going well. It is also very effective to talk to yourself in a positive manner. Say things to yourself such as “I am good company, why wouldn’t people enjoy being around me?”. You may not believe these thoughts/statements at first but it is important to replace self doubt and self criticism with more positive statements. Behaviour that is warmer and shows you as more approachable then follows.

More often than not, it isn’t the situation that stresses us out, instead it is our perception that causes anxiety. If we imagine we will embarrass ourselves and we focus on our insecurities we are far more likely to feel anxious and dread the situation. We can challenge our perceptions though – any time, any place. We always have that choice.

Ask yourself what you are thinking – grab the relevant thoughts. Then ask yourself if there is another way to look at the situation. Would someone else see it differently?

Look for a revised, more realistic version of your original thought.

Example:

I don’t want to be here.

Why don’t I Want to be here?  I don’t want to be here because …?

People will look at me and know that I feel uncomfortable.

And that is bad because?

Well, people will know something is wrong with me…

And what is so bad about that?

People will think I am crazy…

And what does that say about me?

Well, it says that I am crazy.

Become an expert at identifying your assumptions and negative thoughts. Be as specific as you can when identifying a thought and become a thought detective asking yourself questions such as:

Where is the evidence for this thinking?

How do I know that my thoughts are true? Is is fact?

What other explanations could there be?

Is it helpful for me to think this way?

What would someone else say/do in this situation?

The more able we become at disputing our negative thoughts, the less intense the negative associated emotion will be and the more adept we are at looking at what we are telling ourselves, the better we become at discovering our core beliefs- these are ideas that lay the foundations for our negative thoughts and the most common ones I have come across are: I am  not love-able or I am not good enough.

See if you can figure out what your core beliefs are. They often take the form of a “if this..then that” statement. Eg. if I socialise, no one will like me.

The next step is to try find real life situations where we can test out our core belief. Start with a small experiment. Again – more often than not (I have assisted many clients in putting together behavioural experiments to test out beliefs) we find that our core belief is not true. When this happens, our need to believe and hold on to a core belief that limits us lessens. It loses it’s power as we prove to ourselves the exact opposite of what we thought.

Repetition is key – keep challenging, keep looking for evidence and keep setting up situations where you can test out your core beliefs (also known as “rules for living”.)

Tips for a healthy happy life:

Keep a balanced routine and healthy lifestyle

Develop a good social network – the key to contentment!

Develop a good professional network

Expect slip ups, failures and down days.

Don’t let fear get the better of you and remember that we often all feel anxious when we are out and about. especially on down days. Don’t be hard on yourself and stop the high expectations. Learn to live simply and never take life too seriously.

Mandy X