I’m not good enough, I don’t matter, I am not loved…
These unhelpful core beliefs if they ever mean anything to us are debilitating to our self-esteem. They are the kinds that put us down, suppress our true potential, block our motivation, and influence our decision making in relation to our well-being.
However, are these so call unhelpful core beliefs flawed? I don’t think so. Our thoughts and core beliefs pushed us away from danger, towards safety. Our core beliefs are the result of meaning making. What we took in from external stakeholders such as people, events and environments influenced the outcome of our meaning.
Emotions and Core Beliefs
So, where does one’s emotion fit in? Have you ever found yourself having difficulty executing logical problem-solving solutions? If yes, you might be experiencing an unaddressed emotion block that is holding you back from achieving your goals.
Emotion is not a stand-alone entity or category of phenomena but, rather, a complex domain of human experience, meaning it is a cocktail concoction consisting of various ingredients, and with an element of action tendency. Emotion moves us. And yes, there is a crucial player in it too, your thoughts and beliefs!
Without emotions, our experiences are shallow and meaningless. Emotions are the colours to a pictorial canvas. They give richness and depth to our life stories. However, without our thoughts or cognition, we can’t make sense of our emotions. Progressively to translate emotions’ action tendencies into meaning, decisions, and expression.
Origins of Core Beliefs
Having said that, core belief is derived from our meaning making about ourselves. What makes our beliefs so strong and rooted? It is the emotional elements that pulled them firmly into the ground. For instance, if we do not have strong emotions about our thoughts, they are just thoughts among the thousands of fleeting dialogues/films we have in our head daily. Nothing much to it, these thoughts aren’t going to make us do anything. On the other hand, thoughts with strong emotional ties drive us to act, to express ourselves.
Making Sense of Emotions
Think of emotion as your dance partner. Without a partner you can’t do the tango. Your tango partner teaches you, guides you, and sometimes stepped on your foot. Yet, the aim isn’t to change your partner or avoid the missteps but to understand your partner better, making sure that every step you take is asynchrony towards a life of balance and fulfillment.
So, let us start with a more relatable understanding, let’s look at a case study of Julie.
She is a working young adult and in an intimate loving relationship. From the outside, Julie looks like someone who has everything in life; a career, a loving partner, and surrounded by supportive friends. She has great personality too; she is kind and always ready to lend a helping hand to others.
However, everyday Julie wakes up with strong intense emotion of fear and worry (emotion). She fears she would lose all that she has and will be left alone and despaired. So, she worked very hard (behaviour), she tries to please her partner, her colleagues, and her friends (actions), sometimes even to the extent of exhaustion. She hardly has time to unwind. Julie’s perception in life was shaped by her early years of her parents’ separation, and she attributed it to her not being good enough (core belief/meaning) hence they separated. Therefore, she became a people pleaser (behaviour) to people she cherished in the expense of her needs. She is in the brink of a burnt out.
I would like to breakdown the most fundamental part of human experience for you to examine and make sense of. Subsequently, you can be aware and in tuned to yourself for greater agency to change if needed or a meaningful take away on how human experience looks like.
Most of us, and myself included aren’t taught to recognize our emotions from young. There aren’t any modules from school and intentional teaching from our parents to guide us. Also, we are taught to use a lot of cognition and logic thinking. So, it might be difficult to retrain ourselves from an emotion angle to recognize emotions and its effect in our daily lives.
Let us look at Julie’s life experience with the emotion lenses from the inception to expression. It all started with:
1. External stimuli or triggers - something that is impactful to our lives. In Julie’s case, it was the separation of her parents when she was 7 years old. She was being taken care of by her mom and hardly see her dad. Her life which was once happy and safe became tumultuous and unstable.
2. Core emotion – She was fearful and worry of losing the pillars of her life (mom and dad).
3. Meaning – She rationalized her dad’s going away was due to her not being a good daughter (at this age, young people are vulnerable to attributing things to themselves)
4. Decision – She unconsciously made a decision to be good so her mom wouldn’t leave her.
5. Behaviour – She became a very obedient child.
6. Actions - Making sure she did everything her mom wanted her to do correctly and by that, she had gotten favourable feedback and was liked and adored by her mom. She extended these actions to everyone in her life and became a people pleaser.
So, how do emotions impacted Julie's life? How is she experiencing her life in relation to people she care ?
Our unaddressed emotions shape tomorrow's reality.
Think about it! Every joy, every tear, every forgotten giggle or silent grumble has shaped you into the person you are today. By giving yourself space to feel, process, and understand these emotions (therapy or not!), we can embark on a journey of self-discovery and growth. It's like there's a whole inner world of emotions we sometimes push aside or forget about. But what if those feelings, even the not-so-pleasant ones, hold the key to unlocking a deeper understanding of who you are? ️ It's like giving your inner self a big hug and saying, "Hey, you matter!"
And guess what? Even if you're feeling alright now, there's always room to grow, right? Imagine feeling even more in tune with yourself, understanding why you tick the way you do, and maybe even unlocking some hidden strengths. That sounds pretty awesome, doesn't it?
If you ever needed support to help you process your experience. We can be reached at https://wa.me/60136933051