I’m talking about Project Awesome again today, which aims to help teens go from feeling awful to feeling awesome about themselves.
Today we’re going to look into what our core beliefs about ourselves are and where they come from. Most importantly, how to change them. This is the third step out of five that will help to change your mindset.
So what’s a negative core belief?
I’m ugly and no one will ever love me
I am a failure
I’m no good and will never amount to anything
What are your negative core beliefs? The first step to changing your core beliefs is to identify them. Do you have just one negative core belief or many?
So first, tackle one core belief at a time. You cannot just squash them and pretend you don’t believe them anymore. That won’t work. You need to identify the belief, then figure out where it came from and how accurate it is, and finally replace it with a new and more positive core belief.
So here’s an example.
You believe you are no good and will never amount to anything.
Where did this come from? You identify it’s from the way your very intelligent and older brother tells you that you are a mess up and compared to him and his straight A’s and dreams of being a lawyer, of course you’ll never be as good as him. You’ll be lucky to get a job at all. Secondly your single mum doesn’t seem to stop your older brother saying this stuff. And finally, your school grades aren’t up to much and your teachers give you that ‘disappointed’ look a lot.
So that’s why you believe this about yourself.
So how accurate is this belief? The way to decide on this is to look at the evidence from another angle—be a lawyer and detach yourself from your role as little brother. Could it be that big brother is just asserting his authority over you-showing he’s boss? Sure you don’t get straight A’s, but you do alright with some B’s and mostly C’s. So do a lot of people. They are not mess ups. And you don’t want to be a lawyer anyway. Maybe your brother is way above average, but you’re doing okay at average and you prefer sport anyway. You’d rather be a sports teacher than a lawyer. Does that make you a mess up?
And mum – maybe she doesn’t stop her brother saying stuff because she’s so exhausted all the time and doesn’t want to start an argument. But there are times she does tell him off. Maybe there are more times than you realise because you only focus on the times she doesn’t.
And as for your teachers, are they really mad at you for B’s and C’s. Could it be true that they are more disappointed at the lack of effort you put into your work? You do tend to rush, not check stuff, and you’re disorganised so you miss deadlines. And you do this because you think 'what’s the point?' because you're a mess up. Maybe if you put more effort in, got organised, you could get better grades and the teachers wouldn’t give you ‘that look’.
So maybe your core belief isn’t so accurate? Maybe there’s a different interpretation or solution?
Now you need to replace that core belief with something more positive.
Remember some thing’s you’ll be average at, others stronger, and others still you might be really great at. So in this example you could start to think:
I am great at sport, especially basketball.
I am going to get organised and put more effort into my school work because I’m not really a lazy person, based on the fact I train at sport a lot.
I am good at setting goals and will stick to this new goal.
I can be disorganised so I should write down deadlines so I don’t miss anything. Then I will be an organised person.
Now test this out. Follow through on your new core belief about yourself and see the changes happen. This will lead to more positive belief in yourself and you can tackle the next negative core belief you may have. Remember it’s a one step at a time process and won’t change instantly.
After some time has passed, go back to how you used to think about yourself – now do you still think that? Your grades are mostly B’s now, which is above average. You’re a more organised person. Your teachers are praising your efforts. Sure your brother still calls you a mess up, but that’s him teasing and mum’s still busy but she’s noticed your improved grades and is pleased. Not being a straight A student doesn’t mean you’re a mess up and will not amount to anything. You can do anything you set your mind to- because you just proved it.
See how your negative core belief can change?
I hope step three really helps you. Next time we’ll cover how to adjust UNHELPFUL rules and assumptions about life that we may have.
If you’d like to send in comments about how you are going with your Journal, or how you cope with low self-esteem, I’d love to hear from you.
With STEP FOUR you’re almost at the final step in the process of going from feeling awful to feeling awesome.
You can also watch all the Project Awesome videos right here on the VIDEO link.