core beliefs

What to Do with Your Core Beliefs

How to deal with your Core Beliefs Last week I wrote about how to identify your core belief, the belief that is responsible for over 90% of your decisions.  

After I posted the blog, I had a meeting with a CEO of a mid-sized business where we discussed core beliefs.  He asked me what questions he should be asking himself in order to discover his core beliefs.  

The questions are:

  • What were the longings and desires you had growing up in your home?
  • What were the underlying messages of the traumas you faced, the times when you were rocked?
  • How did you change as a result of those traumas?
  • What beliefs did your family share?  (For example, "You have to be perfect in order to be loved.")

Now, let me be clear: you are probably going to have to think through these questions for a long while in order to identify your core beliefs.   As I wrote in the last post, look for underlying themes in your answers to the questions above.  You may have some initial hunches and guesses, but they are probably not the complete core belief.

You will know that you have found the core belief  because:

  1. You will see that 90% of your decisions are filtered through it.
  2. You will sense that you understand yourself much better than you did.
  3. You will want to replace it with a healthier belief (Core beliefs can be twisted or have a twist component to them.  For example, a core belief could be, “I must be perfect to be loved,” or, “If I appear vulnerable, I will be pounced on.”)

Once you have identified the core belief, you might notice a significant change right away.  Then, you may see that even though it has helped you in some ways, the cost was too high.  So you will want to modify it.  

It could be that the core belief is so unhelpful that you will have to dismantle the belief and replace it with a new one.

For example, if the core belief driving your business decisions is, “I must be perfect to be loved,” you can dismantle the belief by:

  • List all the ways in which that belief is not true.

Make a huge list of reasons why this belief is not true, and also list the ways in which you have seen it is not true.  For example:

  • When I did XYZ facilitation and it bombed, I did not lose my job, or worse, I was not shunned by my colleagues. Instead, my boss showed me love by helping me improve my facilitation skills.
  • myself have loved things that are not perfect, like my dog.
  • I’ve seen lots of parents’ hearts go out to their children when they are struggling and even failing, because they love them.
  • (Keep pushing for a super long list. The more evidence you can put on this list, the more easily you will you will dispel the false belief that you must qualify for love by being perfect.)
  • Think through the details as to how, in this case, love is given.

The more you think through how love was given, you will see a pattern.  Love never comes to the perfect.  It always comes to those who are flawed.

  • Think through what you will gain if this belief no longer dominates your life.

Now make a huge list of the benefits that come from dispelling the belief.

If I no longer believed that “I have to be perfect in order to be loved” I would:

  • Feel the pressure lift off of me.
  • Identify myself by how others view me.
  • Not make business decisions based on what would get me love, as if I could “buy” love, but instead, base them on what is best for the occasion.
  • Operate in a confident manner at work.
  • (Keep pushing for a super long list... The more evidence you can put on this listthe more easily you will you will dispel the false belief that you must qualify for love by being perfect.)

Other beliefs get dispelled in similar ways. 

I want to emphasize that dispelling something that is so core to your being will take time.  But you are no stranger to work, and the benefits will be huge.  You will see yourself repent of many sins that have trapped you.

When you replace your core belief, you will see yourself accomplishing more in less time, with less effort. 

Chew On This:

  • How will you prioritize discovering your core belief?

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.

*This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.

Identifying Your Core Beliefs

IDENTIFYING YOUR CORE BELIEFS Have you ever seen a co-worker implode?  That is, really blow up their life?

How about the opposite?  Have you ever seen a co-worker push through difficulties and succeed in unexpected ways?

If you knew what led either to happen, you would know what drives them, and ultimately, you would discover what is at their very core.

How about yourself?  Do you know what led to your biggest failures and your biggest successes in the workplace and in life?

Although beliefs can be found at different levels, deep ones are called core beliefs.  There are very few of those--maybe just one or two--but they are responsible for most of the decisions you make.  You are just not aware of them because they are buried deep in the heart. Discovering our core beliefs can help us understand why we feel and behave the way that we do. It can also help us see our staff in a different light, recognizing that their behaviors are rooted in a deeper core belief that impacts the way they feel and behave, too.

How do you discover your core belief?  

You have to dive into a couple of areas:

  • Family-of-origin

If we got together the people you were raised with and asked a few questions, you will discover that there are belief themes that run through the family - even if each family member is very different.

How do you discover these?  Ask yourself what your family is about.  What matters most to them?  If they are threatened, do they jump into a state of alarm?  Let’s say a family seems to care a lot about what people think of them.  And let’s say we see some inordinately strong behaviors when their image is threatened. The next thing you want to ask yourself is, “What does their image represent to them?”  That’s where the belief is.  So it could be that they believe that if they look good to others then they will have:

  •     Security
  •     Love
  •     Acceptance
  •     Value
  •     Enjoyment
  •     Significance
  • Traumas/Milestones

The more emotionally intense a situation is, the more it impacts our beliefs.  When we go through an emotional trauma, we are so overwhelmed by the emotions running through our bodies that our brain can’t process it quickly enough.  While our brain may numb us out, or even in some cases knock us out, or form memory blocks, our heart seems to scream, “I will never face that pain again!”

The heart then sets up new “protective” beliefs to prevent us from getting into a scenario where we can face that kind of hurt again.  You can spot these protective beliefs because they often seem like an over-reaction.

For example, say a staff member is struggling with taking initiative on a project. If he has had experiences in the past where he has been rejected, shot down, or criticized for his assertiveness, his defense mechanism may be to passively accept others' suggestions. His “protective” belief looks like, “If I agree with others’ opinions, I will be accepted” and “If I take initiative, my team members will reject me.”

Belief changes are not always negative. I have seen others develop new beliefs when they push hard to accomplish a goal, and succeed. The “confidence” that results can be traced to a new belief that came through the experience of pushing themselves.

Once you have listed all the beliefs that you sense derive from your family, and the traumas/milestones in your experience,  then see if there is a belief that binds them all (cue the Lord of the Rings).  That could be the core belief.

Ultimately, recognizing our own core beliefs helps us better understand the way we operate in our workplace. As we explore the root of our core beliefs, we can identify areas where we primarily operate out of maladaptive beliefs. Is our need for approval rooted in a belief that we are never good enough? Is our superior attitude towards coworkers rooted in a belief that without power, we are worthless?

Not only does processing our beliefs help us better understand ourselves, it helps us better understand our staff, too. Recognizing that the behaviors we see are rooted in core beliefs that we cannot see helps us approach staff with grace and understanding. In the next blog, we will talk about how to deal with these core beliefs.

Chew On This:

  • If you wrote out your story and included your family of origin and traumas/milestones that you experienced, what would be the belief themes that come up for you?
  • How does becoming aware of your beliefs affect the way you view yourself and others in the workplace?

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams. *This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.