A new kind of fitness resolution
This information is taken from a Deseret News article in January 2020 about ‘core beliefs’. It was written by Gray Otis and Sandi Williams.
At the beginning of each new year, many of us make resolutions to get into better physical shape. But have you ever thought about achieving better fitness for your mind? In fact, feeling healthier relies on emotional well-being as much as it does on physical wellness For example, if we feel anxious or disheartened, we can’t help feeling physically run-down.
How can we increase our overall fitness. A client of ours often puts herself down and frequently feels anxious. However, she was determined to create a better life in the coming year. When she inquired what she could do, I asked her to tell me about her self-beliefs. She thought this was an unusual question and wanted to know why I asked. Core beliefs are deeply held convictions that we all have about ourselves. For example, if you ask a person if they are competitive, almost everyone will quickly answer with a yes or no. We all have strong beliefs our competitiveness (or lack thereof) related to our own identity. We all have many such core beliefs. Some are positive (I am musical , coordinated, outgoing, for example) and some are negative (I am lazy, unmotivated, I don’t matter, etc.). Self beliefs are central to how we interpret our life experiences. To illustrate, suppose a man has all the core beliefs listed above. He is asked to play the piano at a party he is going to. He might consider playing because he is musically talented, but doing it would require practice, and he is lazy when it comes to practicing. If he plays poorly, everyone will consider him lazy for not practicing. But he doesn’t care what people might say because he doesn’t really matter to anyone anyway. Most people don’t think exactly like this, but we all justify our decisions based on our core beliefs.
We have observed that when we see someone for anxiety, anger, or depression, we anticipate that they will soon reveal their negative core beliefs. Because we know what to look for, these beliefs become quickly apparent. They serve as the basis to understand how to approach the person’s concerns. Many feel that no matter what they do, they will never measure up. They feel foolish and inadequate. In order to create better emotional and mental health, it is vital to change what we believe about ourselves. Our hope is that whenever our clients become aware of a negative core belief, he or she will counter it with an accurate positive core belief and then do something to strengthen that belief. Our clients are usually surprised at how often they indulge in negative core belief thoughts. It took one patient over seven weeks to alter her attitudes about herself. One needs to become aware of and identify negative core beliefs. One should then create and devise an alternative, desired positive core belief. Then one must act and take action to strengthen the positive core belief. Fitness for our minds is directly related to core beliefs. Like any skill we want to improve, mental and emotional fitness takes focused attention and daily practice.