The Colditz of Core Beliefs

I have been seeing a psychologist.  Not before time.  And oh how I wish I had had the wisdom to heed my heart and see someone ten or twenty years ago.  Because my eyes have been opened, I have been listened to, I have been heard, and I have not been deemed or damned mad.  Instead my thoughts and rotational ramblings have been outed for the very normal products of a being whose programming was awry.

I have known for some time that we are all run (just like our computers) by an Operating System which is invisible to all but the most discerning but which dictates our every action, reaction and response.  I knew that our formative years and situations and surroundings dictated the programming.  I didn’t know that these are called Core Beliefs.  I didn’t know that many of mine are common in people with low self-esteem, even normal (yay!) and that seeking them out, shedding light on them and naming and shaming them for the ridiculously skewed scars they are, allows me to be free of them.  Or at least see them for what they are, get some perspective and refuse to buy into them or believe them any more.

I was in prison and I have been freed.  And like the nightingale I want to sing songs of joy that I am no longer locked in a cage of core beliefs like: I am a bad mother, I am a bad person, nobody likes me, I am unlovable, I am not good enough, I am a failure, life is not fair, I am ugly, I am unworthy, I am different, I am bound to be alone.

Phew!  That’s pretty scary.  Just imagine, for most of my 46 years I have been operating under that programming.  That is really sad.  Because it’s not true.  I can see that now.

‘Low self esteem is having a generally negative overall opinion of oneself, judging or evaluating oneself negatively, and placing a general negative value on oneself as a person.’

‘People with low self esteem usually have deep-seated, basic, negative beliefs about themselves and the kind of person they are.  These beliefs are often taken as facts or truths about their identity, rather than being recognised as opinions they hold about themselves’

The crazy thing about Core Beliefs is that once initiated (and even a chance remark or throwaway line at a vulnerable or traumatic time can spark a rewiring of the circuitry) ‘they are maintained by the tendency to focus on information that supports the belief and ignoring evidence that contradicts it’.  It’s like life through rose tinted glasses in reverse.  Like a house of mirrors, each image uglier than the last, and all distorted, warped and bent out of shape.

I was raised in a house where nothing we ever did (or is still!) good enough, where criticism was the currency of conversation and there I learned to criticise myself.  I guess I was a sensitive soul and I have taken words spoken in anger, jest and jealousy like spears into my heart where they have wounded, festered and finally exploded out in a shower of truth under the laser like beam of professional psychotherapy.

I have beaten myself up over the last 40 odd years – submitting myself to a program of torture, finding ever more creative and cruel ways to hurt and punish myself and make life in my own mind a misery.  Abuse of food, drugs, alcohol, punishing my body, my friends, my colleagues with alternately undisciplined or overly controlling behaviour, mood swings etc.  Living listening to the mean old voices in the mind rather than seeing any sense in day to day reality.

The doors of the prison are swung open with the light streaming in and I see that I am loved and loveable, I am a good person, I am trying to be a good mother, I am kind, I am attractive, I have a good heart . . .  I’m normal, with both strengths and weaknesses.

I have been trapped for so long in the torturous turnings of my warped wiring that to let go of the fear and negativity in my brain is like a longed for holiday.  I want to sing, dance, play, write and love.  I am so glad and grateful to be free at last.  I can’t wait to see what life without them looks like, feels like.  I’m like a baby taking those first toddling steps.  I’m sure I will stumble and fall and bang back into those old core walls but I’m on my way into a future free of them.  I can make and shape my own core beliefs from here on in.  Chuck out the old OS and download a new one.

I’ve challenged my core beliefs – what are yours?

Posted in Depression | Tagged , | 2 Comments

2 Responses to The Colditz of Core Beliefs

  1. John says:

    Wow, what an elightenment.
    Since my marriage i have tried to do allthat my once beloved partner wanted. Basically pandered to her every wish.
    Now that our little nestlings have flown and are making lives for themselves, I have decided that I will do the things that I have always wanted to. I am now ugly, inconsiderate, heartless, intemporate and not worthwhile sharing the marital bed with.
    I cant afford a divorce as I would loose all that is dear to me. So I have to keep living with my betrothed and do my own thing with all the sarcasm, undisguised hostility that is directed at me.If I so much as raise my voice I am accused of domestic violence which is something I deplore.
    Who is your shrink? It seems as though I could do with a session to restore my self esteem.

    • sophie says:

      Dear John (my first dear John letter!)
      I highly recommend two things to you: first, that you visit your GP and explain that your marriage is in tatters and you are feeling depressed and desperate. Your GP will refer you to a Psychotherapist for 6 sessions which Medicare will pay almost all of and you will have an opportunity to rediscover yourself in a safe and sacred listening space. Secondly, that you investigate something called NVC (non violent communication) which I have just completed a workshop in which has dramatically affected the way in which I view my own communication, empathic listening and value I place on others needs. You would love it and either avenue will open windows in your heart, mind and soul. I wish for clarity, understanding, compassion and love for you. You deserve it!

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