You’ve been ridding your garden plot of weeds and garbage. Have you started planting yet?
In the last post Harvey started looking at his negative core beliefs and how to change them into a postive ‘mindset.’ The roots of negative core beliefs go very deep into the soil. If we don’t pull get all of the root, while weeding, it will send a sprig back to the surface and start growing again.
According to the Centre for Clinical Interventions, “Your negative core beliefs reflect the negative, broad, and generalised judgements you have made about yourself, based on some negative experiences you might have had during your earlier years (eg. “I am a failure,” or “ I am no good”).”
As you are weeding your garden, you need to identify specific weeds. You will need to examine these weeds closely to make sure you get all of the root. To identify them you will need to look for specific information that you have about yourself. With your magnifying glass look for these specific clues:
- Carefully examine all negative experiences you’ve had.
- Identify any negative self-evaluations .
- Problems identifying or looking at positive qualities about yourself.
- Identify any and all fears that pop up when you think about doing something different.
- Identify any negative biases or tendencies or feelings you have.
Questions to answer about the the information you’ve uncovered.
- What does the it say about me as a person?
- What does it say about who I am?
Harvey Pulling Weeds
In the counselor’s office Harvey was ask to identify 5 Things He Tells Himself. The counselor sent him home with the above assignment to work on at home. She also sent a list of steps for him to follow in adjusting the negative core beliefs to create a positive mindset.
Remember, he overheard a conversation between his parents when he was about 10 years old. His dad said he felt trapped. He didn’t really want a wife and a “good for nothing” kid.
Harvey entered the counselor’s office. Joan met him at the front counter as before. They walked into Joan’s office.
“You seemed more relaxed than you did last week,” she said.
“I feel much better. It’s amazing how working on the assignment you gave me made such a difference in how I feel.”
He walked over to the fish tank pointing out a couple of unusual fish in the tank. He lingered for sometime watching the fish. Not like the week before.
“Are you ready to get started?” Joan asked.
“Sure thing,” he said. “Sorry, it seems like I’m seeing more colors today. You’ve got some beautiful fish in your tank.
Joan smiled as he walked to the chair in front of her desk.
Analyzing Negative Core Beliefs
“Let’s go to the sheet I gave you to work on. The first item was to select a negative core belief. Which one did you choose?”
“The statement that my dad made to my mother, ‘good for nothing kid,’” Harvey said.
“Tell me what you’ve discovered about that statement.”
“Well, I discovered that I really took that comment to heart, that he really thought I was a ‘good for nothing kid’, which made me a good for nothing person, period. It made me feel like I couldn’t do anything and I really shouldn’t even be on this earth. When he said I should have been aborted, I took it to mean that my existence on this earth was a big mistake and I shouldn’t even be alive.”
“The second question was, ‘identify when it’s least convincing.’ Ever since that day it’s always there. It has never left. Last week when you said it wasn’t about me, it was my parent’s problem, it was like you opened the door and allowed some fresh air into my room. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. We do have more work to do.”
New Core Belief
“We need to start growing a new balanced core belief, a “mindset”, one that is positive and realistic. It’s not realistic that you’re a big mistake. Has your mother ever told you how she feels about you being on this earth?”
“She has always told me that I was the best thing that ever happened to her, but it seems like what my dad, wait. He’s not my dad. He’s only a sperm donor. So, I’m going to call him by his name, Paul. What Paul said, all those years ago, just covered up what my mom said. It didn’t matter how many times she said it. After that day, I didn’t seem to hear it.”
“That’s not uncommon,” Joan said. “What is a more accurate reflection of yourself? You don’t want to just squash the negative belief, you need to plant a new belief so it can grow into a new ‘mindset.’”
Harvey paused, looking down at the floor. Joan sat quietly listening.
“It’s almost embarrassing for me to say this. I guess, because I’ve had such a negative opinion of myself for so long.”
He hesitated again.
Harvey Looks At Himself
“I don’t think I’m such a bad person. After reading what my boss said about me, I am pretty smart. I am a caring person. I’m always helping others here at work and people I meet outside of work.”
He paused with a little laugh, “Once, this old lady on my block was standing at the foot of a big old tree calling her cat. Now, really, do cats actually come when they’re called? Anyway, I climbed up to get the cat. It was way up in the top of the tree. The branches began to bend under my weight. Everytime I got close, it would move up farther. And, I’m afraid of heights.”
He laughed as he thought about it.
“Did you get the cat?”
“I did and I got really scratched, also. That cat was not happy, but the little ol’ lady was. She took me into her apartment and bandaged up my wounds. We became really good friends.”
Balance Your Core Beliefs
“Those are all positive. We need balanced thoughts so give me something negative,” Joan said.
He smiled with a little sheepish grin, “Well, I’m not so good with the ladies. I really would like to be married, but I’ve never even had a real date. I’ve gone for coffee or dinner with co-workers when we’ve been working on an assignment, but never a real date. I’m also not good at relating to old men. I have problems with my boss. Because he appears so much like my da… Paul. I really need to work on that.”
“And we will. Let’s examine the evidence for and against this core belief, ‘good for nothing kid.’ What are your thoughts about it now? Is there another explanation other than he, Paul, was right? How can you interpret or make sense of the statement without condemning Paul?”
“Well, you were right. It wasn’t about me. It was about my parents, mainly my mom. I called her and talked to her about it. She explained that she did trick him into marriage by getting pregnant. She said that was the worst thing she could have done. He resented her and still does. She said a girlfriend of hers did the same thing, they had actually talked about it, and her marriage worked out just fine, but my mom’s didn’t. She said they fought continually. She was so glad she had me, but was so sorry she forced him into marriage. She also said, that if she hadn’t pushed him so hard, he might have actually wanted to be married or, at least, had a relationship with me. It was all their problem. Not mine.”
He paused and looked at the floor again before continuing, “She said he called a few months after the divorce was final and wanted to talk to me. He really wanted a relationship with me. She said she was so angry that she wouldn’t allow him to talk to me. She never said anything to me.”
“What about now? Does he still want a relationship with you?”
“She said he does. But, he has honored her wishes and not made any contact. She also said that he has followed my career and has watched me from a distance.”
“She said he has. She said she saw him at my graduation with my Masters. I had no idea he was there.”
“So, what do you want? Do you want a relationship with him?”
Harvey sat for a long time in silence before answering, “Actually, I don’t know. This is such a switch from my normal thought process that I don’t know.”
“Okay, work on that question this week. Same time next week?”
“I’ll be here,” he said with a smile. “This isn’t half as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, it’s not bad at all.”
If you have gone through this process with Harvey, find evidence to support your new core belief. Like Harvey, after talking to his mom, he discovered that it really wasn’t about him. This was between his parents.
Look at evidence from the past and in the present. How can you interpret the evidence differently so it will support your new core belief? Look at the future. Does the new evidence hold true for the future.
Test drive your new core belief. Harvey’s new belief said, “I am smart. I am a caring person.” What is your new core belief? Try it on for size? Intentionally act in ways that are consistent with your new core belief. Ask yourself, how would somebody with this kind of belief act? What would they do? What new experiences would they have? Write them down. Test drive them – behave in a manner consisten with your new belief. Now,how does it feel?
Reflect on the impact your new core belief has had on your life, as compared to your old core belief. Now, rate how much you believe your old negative core belief and compare it to your new positive core belief. Write it down. Write down your new positive thought so every time the old thought begins to creep back into your mind you have a defense – an opposite thought.
Are you ready to plant the new core belief as a “New Mindset?”
“No, I’m not thinking that, I am smart. I am a caring person. My boss likes me. I am worthy of that promotion.” (Harvey’s thoughts)
The old thought will try to sneak back into your mind. Don’t allow it.
2 Corinthians 10:5-6 “We are destroying speculations (worries, fears, Distorted Thoughts)… and we are taking every thought captive (Thought Restructuring)… and we are ready to punish all disobedience (old thoughts that try to sneak back into our mind)…”