Negative Core Beliefs - and how they control the selves and your life



Latest news - The notes here go back to around 2000. They are still valid but we now have a much more up to date website devoted just to Core belief work and Core belief balancing. There you will find all these pages (updated) plus many more new articles, new worksheets and more explanations and new pages are being added every week. Go to


Your belief system gives you a framework that helps you interpret and understand the experiences you face in life. A belief is something you accept as true, without question. That means you can expect that every day it will seem just as true as it was the day before. Your beliefs are deeply embedded in you, so you and particularly your team of protective inner selves, live your life around them, without thinking about them, questioning them or even being aware of them.

As part of your overall belief system you may, as a small child, have developed unbalanced or negative beliefs about yourself, that actually helped you ‘fit in’ to your family environment by making sense of things that happened to you, things that would otherwise be very hard for you to live with. For example if, a small child is constantly ignored or neglected, one of his or her beliefs might be ‘I am not worthwhile’.

If this belief helped that child fit into a negative and unbalanced family situation then it was what they needed to believe, even if it was not true. Without false beliefs like these, the child may well have been neglected even more. However, once the child takes on the false negative belief they find they adapt and in ner selves are created to help them become more acceptable and so appear to ‘fit in’ better in their family. This reinforces the belief and makes it seem even more ‘true’. The more the selves react to proect us from that belief the more true it will seem.

The beliefs that helped you survive and fit into your childhood will have been unique for you and different from mine (unless the toughest things you and I had to cope with were very similar). If in childhood I was told I would always fail, a core belief might be ‘I can’t’. This helps me because it gives me a framework around which to survive, a ‘map of the world’ that helps me cope with life and plan my future. Now I know what to expect in life and I can start learning how best to ’fit into’ my unbalanced family system.

So our core beliefs as they took root in our first few years became a kind of summary of the most basic convictions we make up about our self-worth, the kind of person we are, what will become of us as a result, our place in the family and the world and how we can expect others to treat us all our life.

Core beliefs like these are supported by the primary inner self system. This means they grow stronger rather than weaker. One of the ways they often grow is by helping make sense of our worst childhood experiences in the only way a small child can, by telling us that what went wrong was essentially our fault. Even though this assumption was based on false information or false understandings set up in early childhood, it becomes more firmly established as you grow up. Today it may still shape and guide much of our life and the way we react to those around us. It also provides us with an unusual ‘gift’ in the way it motivates us to change our natural personality and adapt to become more like the person others want us to be.

These beliefs about yourself, which you hold on to so strongly also reflect your deepest vulnerability and pain and help to keep these locked within you.

Core beliefs resonate through your whole life

Your strongest inner selves, the polarised one-above ones, were created to help you live with your core beliefs but unfortunately while they were helping you live with a negative core belief these same selves in conjunction with your supporting beliefs were also making it seem as if that belief really must have been true.

Your locked in automatic repetitive behaviour patterns set up by your polarised selves certainly helped you cope with the pain of your unbalanced beliefs but they also created a binding situation. Learning to live with and constantly find better ways to cope with these false beliefs gave you no opportunity to discover ways to question them or to change them.

Instead what you and I learned for most of our life (so far) was simply how to "channel all our energy and resources towards dealing with these negative beliefs." (Nikki Nemerouf)

"Money, time, relationships, professional skills, family, everything has been reorganised so that it can be better used to distance me from my pain, my vulnerability and my fear of my negative beliefs getting any worse than they already are. In so doing I also distance myself from the love that I am so desperately seeking". (Nikki Nemerouf)

Your senses are so tied up, bound and distorted by the false belief that you literally cannot see the positive reality in front of you. You may even fight it when someone else tries to show you that these beliefs have a positive side, until you begin the process called balancing and transformation, as explained at the end of this section.

Almost every unbalanced or negative belief seems to be connected in some way with your deepest thoughts or feelings about being:

• not good enough (incompetent)

• not good enough (unlovable)

• unwanted, different

• defective, imperfect, bad

• powerless, one-below

• in danger, not safe

• don’t know, wrong

Within that broad belief pattern, however, are many different variations.

Whatever your unbalanced beliefs are, they help to define your unique and individual core issues and these in turn control the way your inner selves react when those issues are triggered. It's often been said that whatever your most negative core belief about yourself might be, that's the one your selves will tend most to "dance around".

There are hundreds of core issues and core beliefs, so you can expect that yours may be quite different from those held by the person next to you. Let’s look at four people who at first appear to have very similar issues and see how differently they react.

If ‘A’ has a not good enough belief ‘It’s always my fault’ then whenever ‘A’ thinks she has made a mistake she will react by doing too many favours for other people to ‘make up’ for it.

On the other hand, ‘B’ has a not good enough belief ‘I can’t get it right’. For B this may mean failing to make decisions out of fear of making a wrong one or doing nothing as the only sure way of avoiding rocking the boat.

Meanwhile ‘C’ has a not good enough belief ‘I am wrong’. He or she might become a ‘one-above’ school teacher or police officer so that they can spend their days correcting others who are wrong while avoiding looking at his or her own issues.

Finally there is ‘D’ whose not good enough belief is ‘I am a mistake’. Whichever way ‘D’ tries to deal with that false belief, will be connected to D’s deep seated feelings of shame. One way for the selves to block D’s shameful feelings is for them to help ‘D’ become very analytical or perhaps develop a strong ‘knower’ self that can argue convincingly to help prove that ‘D’ is never ‘mistaken’ about anything.

A second possibility is that ‘D’ turns to drugs or alcohol to hide the shame of being a mistake. Of course that only helps ‘D’ feel more of a mistake as explained  in Section 5 on addictive cycles.

The good news is that of course these beliefs are not true. We just act as if they were. What to do about it?

See:  Classic VOICE DIALOGUE helps You balance Your Belief System and regain Control of your life

See also How and why your inner selves react when a core belief is triggered

Examples of typical negative core beliefs

Copyright John Nutting 1996 - - 2013  and      GROWING AWARENESS   All rights reserved World Wide   LAST UPDATE  Wednesday, 04 September 2013 18:49

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