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4 Types Of Self-Care You May Be Neglecting

4 Types Of Self-Care You May Be Neglecting

In a fast-paced world where others are depending on us, it’s easy to neglect our own needs. However, it’s important to remember that you can’t show up as your best self if your needs haven’t been taken care of. By neglecting self-care, we are not only doing ourselves a disservice, we’re also less able to serve the people in our lives or perform well at work.

By now, you’re probably well aware that self-care is more than just your skincare routine or a trip to the salon. Self-care has been described as “taking care of yourself so that you can be healthy, you can be well, you can do your job, you can help and care for others.” Real self-care isn’t about escaping the stresses of life. Rather, it’s about doing the things that are necessary to create a life you don’t need to escape from. This often requires doing things you may not want to do, to reduce future stresses and to make life easier in the long run. It may require difficult or uncomfortable tasks, habits, or conversations.

Are you taking a holistic approach to your self-care? Here are four aspects of self-care that are commonly overlooked or neglected.

Financial Self-Care

In a recent survey, almost 75% of Americans ranked finances as the most significant source of anxiety in their lives. For millennials and Gen Z’ers, there is an even greater likelihood of financial stress, given the harsh economic climate they were forced to come of age in. Millennials are more likely to be in debt, and less likely to have savings than Baby Boomers did in their 20’s and 30’s.

Financial self-care means doing the things that are necessary to reduce your likelihood of experiencing anxiety related to your money. This can include setting a budget, tracking your finances, reviewing your statements, and setting financial goals. Establishing an emergency fund can help ease anxiety because you’ll know that you can handle anything that may unexpectedly arise. By taking the time to keep your finances in order, you’re less likely to be stressed out by them. Financial stability brings a sense of ease and comfort.

Practical Self-Care

Practical self-care consists of the tasks that will help your life to run more smoothly. When these things are in place, you’re better able to show up as your best self for the people in your life. Practical self-care can look different for everyone, depending on their needs and lifestyle. Someone who has a tendency to skip meals during busy workdays may benefit from meal prepping and packing a lunch bag to take to work. Those who struggle to make decisions in the mornings may benefit from selecting their outfit the night before, to reduce the possibility of stress tomorrow. Consider the situations in your life that tend to cause the most stress and put practical measures in place to make things easier for yourself.

Other examples of practical self-care include taking care of laundry, cleaning, and other household tasks, getting your car serviced, and optimizing your electronic devices.

Spiritual Self-Care

Spiritual self-care includes those activities that nurture your spirit and help you to find meaning in the world. For some people, this includes practicing a religion, but there are many other examples of spiritual self-care. Practicing meditation, yoga, or spending time in nature can help to bring a sense of oneness with the world around you. Take the time to unplug from technology and read inspiring books or articles. Other examples of spiritual self-care include practicing gratitude, creating a vision board, dedicating time for self-reflection and journaling.

Professional Self-Care

Work is a big part of our lives and can affect our overall wellbeing. Finding fulfillment in your work and reducing work-related stressors are important for your mental and emotional health. Day-to-day examples of professional self-care include using tools and resources to improve your efficiency and productivity. Evaluate your workload to ensure you aren’t taking on more than you can handle. Take breaks throughout the workday to avoid getting burned out. Maintaining good relations with your coworkers also leads to a more fulfilling work life.

More “big picture” examples of professional self-care include taking professional courses, attending seminars or pursuing new qualifications or skills. Assess your long-term career goals and determine whether you are on the path to attaining those goals. By doing what’s necessary to get to a place of fulfillment in your work, you’ll reduce your stress and be better able to spend time with loved ones or pursue personal goals.

Self-Care and Balance

Stress can affect both your mental and physical health. In addition to increased depression, anxiety and substance abuse, stress can also lead to high blood pressure, insomnia, stomachaches and can even affect the menstrual cycle and immune system. When we’re stressed, we tend to be more irritable or quick to anger, which can impact our relationships. By neglecting certain aspects of self-care, we are likely to experience stress-related to those same areas of life. For example, when we neglect financial self-care, we are more likely to be stressed out by bills and missed payments.

By creating more balance in your life, you will notice a reduction in your stress. Prioritizing self-care allows you to balance the various facets of your life, for a feeling of holistic wellbeing. Although it may sound easy, it can be quite challenging to establish consistent self-care habits in your life. By working with a therapist, you’ll have expert guidance and support, which can hold you accountable as you seek to prioritize self-care and reduce stress. The therapists at Flourish Psychology can guide you in developing the skills needed to reduce stress in the moment and long-term.

Contact us to schedule your first session.

This Is How We’re Coping with Uncertainty in 2022

This Is How We’re Coping with Uncertainty in 2022

In 2022, coping with uncertainty can feel impossible. The future has never been certain, but for those of us living through a global pandemic, it’s even more uncertain than ever. Even though we’ve just started a brand new year, COVID-19 is far from being over. Over 58 million Americans have tested positive for the virus, and numbers continue to rise as the Omicron variant sweeps through the country. 

Besides causing uncertainty with regard to our health and the health of our loved ones, COVID-19 has impacted us in so many ways. We may be facing uncertainty regarding living situations, relationships, jobs, and finances. Scientists still aren’t quite sure how much longer we’ll be tackling the virus and most of us have accepted that there’s no “going back to normal” after this. 

This kind of uncertainty can have a detrimental effect on our mental health.  Anxiety is often triggered by uncertainty because we naturally have a deep desire for a sense of control over our lives. Uncertainty causes us to feel out of control, which can cause paranoia, panic, and stress. 

How NOT to Cope with Uncertainty

Before we dive into our strategies for dealing with uncertainty, let’s touch on some of the unhealthy ways. If left unchecked, our efforts to cope with anxiety can be harmful to us or those around us. For example, obsessing or ruminating is a common response to uncertainty. You may find yourself fixating on the subject of your anxiety, constantly seeking updates or spending lots of time researching the issue. You may even find yourself micromanaging the people around you as a means of coping with your feelings of uncertainty. 

Procrastination is another common method of coping with uncertainty. Being unable to predict the outcome of your actions can cause you to delay those actions altogether. You may avoid an important conversation because you aren’t sure what the other person will say. You may avoid looking at your bank statements because you feel a sense of uncertainty regarding the management of your finances. We covered strategies for reducing procrastination in a previous blog post. 

Coping with Uncertainty by Developing a Routine

During times of uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to develop solid routines. Our daily routines are, for the most part, within our control and we should make them as supportive as possible. Your daily routines provide you with a sense of structure and stability in an otherwise unpredictable world.

Consider developing a morning routine to begin your days on a positive note. Try not to pack too many things into your routine and be sure to give yourself some flexibility. Your routine should help to support you, not control you. A simple morning routine can include a few minutes of stretching, making a cup of tea or coffee and making your bed. 

Find Ways to Stay Grounded

Being grounded means having a sense of stability in your life. We all have those moments where we don’t even know what day it is and everything feels out of control. Being grounded means that (despite whatever challenges you’re facing), you’re able to be at peace in the present moment. There are many simple exercises you can do throughout your days to feel more grounded. A five-minute breathing exercise brings a sense of calm and control when emotions are running high. Take a mindful walk and observe your surroundings. 

What does it take for you to feel grounded? For some, it’s having a clean and tidy environment. For others, it’s ensuring their bills are paid on time. These more practical tasks are beneficial for your mental health because you’ll be able to remain present without worrying about overdue or overlooked obligations. 

Make Self-Care a Priority 

During times of uncertainty, it can be easy for self-care to fall to the wayside. We may find ourselves not keeping up with things like therapy or doctor’s appointments, forgetting to take medication, and not sleeping enough. Other examples of neglecting self-care include forgetting to eat or consuming foods with little nutritional value, neglecting hygiene or overworking ourselves to the point of burnout. 

Be deliberate about self-care. If it helps, set reminders on your phone to remind you to perform acts of self-care such as having a meal, staying hydrated or attending to your hygiene. Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule, eating nutritious foods and moving your body daily are essential. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

If you’re having difficulties coping with uncertainty, it helps to talk to a trusted friend or loved one. It’s always good to have someone to rely on during difficult times. Feeling supported can bring a greater sense of control over a situation, while a lack of support leaves you feeling alone and overwhelmed. Your friend may be able to offer another perspective, solutions or emotional support. 

Seeking help from a therapist is an excellent way to cope with the uncertainty of these times. Since the start of the pandemic, the demand for mental health services has steadily increased. The clinicians at Flourish Psychology do more than just provide a safe space for expressing your fears. Therapists are trained and qualified in various treatment methods for reducing or eliminating anxiety and other mental health conditions. 

By working with a therapist, you’ll also learn important skills for managing your emotions. By mastering cognitive and dialectical behavioral skills, you’ll be better equipped to handle challenges as they arise in your daily life. Despite the uncertainty around you, you’ll be able to cultivate a feeling of calm, control and stability. Contact us to schedule your first session. 

Mental Health Resolutions to Make for 2022

Mental Health Resolutions to Make for 2022

The start of a new year brings the feeling of a blank slate and endless possibilities. As 2021 comes to a close, many of us are reflecting on the challenges and triumphs faced throughout the last twelve months. During the last week of the year, you’re likely giving lots of thought to your plans, goals and resolutions for 2022. While the most common resolutions tend to be in the realms of fitness, finances and career advancement, might we suggest turning your attention to your mental health?

If the last two years are anything to go by, it’s more important than ever to prioritize self-care, healthy boundaries and emotional wellbeing. Here are a few simple ways that you can improve your mental health in 2022 and beyond. 

Develop an Attitude of Gratitude 

You may have heard this one several times before, but it still bears repeating. Expressing gratitude is one of the simplest and most effective ways that you can instantly lift your mood and feel a sense of contentment. When you’re in a state of gratitude, you’re less likely to dwell on negative emotions such as resentment or regret. Over the long term, gratitude has been linked to decreased stress levels and improved psychological health.

How can you practice gratitude in your daily life? It can be as simple as writing a list of three things you’re grateful for each morning soon after you wake up. This can be done in the notes app on your phone or in a  dedicated gratitude journal or notebook. Throughout the day, look out for small things to be grateful for and make a mental note of them when they happen. If you found a parking spot in a crowded lot, take a few seconds to appreciate your luck before you exit your car. Gratitude also helps to enhance our relationships. Be sure to let your loved ones know how thankful you are for their support and presence in your life. 

Begin a Mindfulness Meditation Practice

Meditation has been a huge wellness trend for the last few years. This ancient practice goes back to at least 1500 BCE, but is still incredibly beneficial for our fast-paced modern lives. As meditation continues to grow in popularity, it’s also become incredibly accessible. These days, there’s no shortage of apps, videos and online courses to support you on your meditation journey. 

Mindfulness meditation is a special type of meditation that trains you to slow down and detach from racing or negative thoughts. With regular practice, mindfulness has been shown to decrease stress, foster a more positive mindset and even improve your quality of sleep. To practice this kind of meditation, get comfortable in a quiet space where you’re not likely to be disturbed. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Notice how the breath interacts with the body – the rise and fall of the belly, and the feeling of air entering and leaving your nostrils. If it helps, you can keep focused by counting your breaths. It’s normal to get distracted; just bring your attention back to your breathing. Try doing this for fifteen minutes each day to experience the full benefits of this practice.

Sounds intimidating? Even five minutes of quiet time each day can have surprising benefits. You can also try practicing mindfulness all throughout the day as you engage with the world around you. Instead of absentmindedly scrolling on your phone while you eat lunch, try taking the time to eat mindfully. Slow down, pay attention and really enjoy the taste, smell and texture of your food. When taking a walk, make the effort to be truly aware of your surroundings, including the little things like the breeze on your face and the crunching sound of leaves under your feet. Living in the present moment means you’re spending less time ruminating on the past or worrying about the future. 

Don’t Neglect Your Physical Health 

Even though this is a list of mental health resolutions, your physical health has such a huge role to play. The three key areas to prioritize are sleep, nutrition and movement. By improving these aspects of your physical health, you’ll also notice improvements in your overall emotional wellbeing. 

In 2022, make the effort to develop a consistent bedtime routine to foster healthier sleep hygiene. Go to bed at around the same time each night and ensure your bedroom is quiet, dark and set to a comfortable temperature. Commit to reducing nighttime device usage in favour of more calming activities such as reading, journaling or gentle stretching. Lack of sleep or poor sleep hygiene has been linked to worsening symptoms of depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. By getting proper sleep, you’re laying a solid foundation for improving your mental health. 

Exercise is another well-researched contributor to good mental health. Moving your body not only releases feel-good hormones like endorphins, but can also fill you with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Consider new and enjoyable ways that you can move your body in 2022. If you’re tired of the old gym routine, why not switch things up by trying out a new sport or taking up a dance class? The key is to find an activity that you genuinely enjoy, so that daily exercise feels like a natural part of your day. 

What about nutrition and your mental health? Just like all your other organs, your brain is affected by the food you eat. Diets high in refined sugar and processed foods have been known to cause a worsening of symptoms for many mental illnesses, including depression. On the other hand, healthy foods like salmon, avocados and whole grains are known to support brain function and can even help reduce dementia in older adults. 

Monitor Your Social Media Usage

We’ve written about the connection between social media and mental health in a previous blog post. While we may not yet have information on the long-term effects of constant social media use, we do have quite a bit of research on the shorter-term impacts. Many recent studies have explored the psychological impact of increased exposure to social media platforms and how this can contribute to depression, anxiety, self-harm and disordered eating. 

Although platforms like Instagram and TikTok can provide hours of entertainment and allow us to keep in  touch with friends and family, they can also encourage a few unhealthy habits. Comparing yourself to the highlight reels of your favorite influencers can lead to low self-esteem and FOMO, while endless scrolling makes it easy to fall into the procrastination trap. As 2022 approaches, do a digital detox by unfollowing accounts that make you feel unhappy or inadequate. Adjust your settings to eliminate anxiety-inducing notifications and disconnect from the 24-hour news cycle. Consider replacing social media scrolling time with other apps such as 

Set and Enforce Boundaries

Boundaries are a necessary component for maintaining fulfilling relationships and safeguarding your mental health. Simply put, a boundary is a limit or a rule that defines how other people are able to access and interact with you. It’s up to you to determine your boundaries and they may differ from relationship to relationship. For example, you may be uncomfortable with friends showing up unannounced to your home, while your romantic partner has a spare key to let themselves in as they wish. You deserve to feel comfortable and respected within all your relationships. Consider all your connections (work, familial, platonic, romantic, etc.) and determine whether any adjustments need to be made in terms of boundaries.

In addition to these healthy habits, working with a therapist is one of the biggest and most impactful steps you can take towards improving your mental health. Therapy can also equip you with the tools needed to improve your self-esteem, foster healthier relationships and achieve your career goals. At Flourish Psychology, our clinicians are trained in number of treatment modalities to address your specific concerns. Contact us today to get in touch with our intake coordinator or to schedule your first session.  

How to Handle the Holidays With an Eating Disorder

How to Handle the Holidays With an Eating Disorder

Holidays are celebrated as a time for gathering with loved ones, sharing meals and creating memories. But this time of year can be especially difficult for those dealing with an eating disorder or body image issues. Food is a central element of holiday celebrations and there’s often a lot of it on display. You may be expected to consume certain types of food or a large amount of food. Holidays may also force you to interact with relatives who have a negative impact on your mental health and body image, whether with their words, actions, or their very presence. Sometimes, the anxiety associated with going home for the holidays can even trigger a worsening of symptoms.

Large family gatherings present many challenges for those with an eating disorder. Maybe your relatives don’t know about it and you’re anxious about it being found out. Maybe you’re triggered by just the sight of a large display of food or constant conversations about food. Then there are the relatives who make comments about your body or your food. 

Here are a few coping strategies to consider as you navigate the festive season. 

Setting Boundaries with Relatives

Family gatherings can be especially stressful when our relatives cause us to feel uncomfortable. The holidays are often a time when friends and family provide unsolicited and unhelpful comments about your body or your eating habits. You may be forced to deal with remarks on weight loss or gain, and questions about the quantity or frequency of your meals. Sometimes, these comments are well-meaning and may be coming from someone who doesn’t understand how triggering they can be. Regardless of their intentions, the effect of these comments can still be detrimental. 

Anticipate these comments ahead of time and come up with a game plan for responding to them. For example, you can decide that you will say “I’m not hungry. Please stop trying to force me to eat that” and physically distance yourself from anyone who causes you to feel uncomfortable. If your family is aware of your eating disorder, is it possible to have a conversation with them before the big gathering?

Here are some phrases that can help you to politely, but assertively set boundaries during these scenarios:

  • I won’t continue this conversation if you keep making those comments.
  • No, thank you. 
  • I don’t want that.
  • I’m not comfortable discussing this topic.
  • You’re making me uncomfortable, so I’m going to leave.
  • Thanks for your concern, but I can take care of myself. 
  • Let’s talk about something else. 
  • I don’t like being called that name.
  • I didn’t find that funny. Please don’t say that again.

Rely on Your Support Systems

Who do you usually rely on for emotional support? Are you able to access them at this time? Sometimes during the holidays, we’re separated from our usual environments or social groups, as we head elsewhere to spend time with family. If a friend is your usual support system, but you’ll be apart for the holidays, be sure to let them know what’s happening. Inform them ahead of time of the difficulties you’re anticipating during this season, and that you’ll need their support. Texts, calls and video chat can all be incredibly useful tools for connecting with your support system. Knowing that they’re on standby can bring a feeling of comfort as you navigate this challenging time. 

Don’t Neglect Self-Care

Holidays bring huge changes to our daily routines and environment. With all these changes, it can be difficult to stick to your own routine and self-care may fall to the wayside. But during emotionally challenging times, we need more self-care than ever. If you have been prescribed medication, be sure to continue taking them as directed. Keep up with your hygiene habits and, if you’re menstruating, ensure you have everything you need to make yourself comfortable (such as a heating pad or pain medication). During stressful times, it’s especially important that you get enough sleep, water and nutrition. If you have a special hobby that brings you peace, are you able to engage in this hobby during the holidays? 

Financial self-care is important during the holidays, since this is often a season of spending. Check in with your finances to ensure you’re sticking to your budget, to avoid any undue stress come January. 

Remember to Recharge

This can be an extremely overwhelming time. How will you recharge your body and mind? It can be as simple as taking a ten-minute walk to clear your head before heading back into the gathering. Maybe you have a playlist that puts you in a better mood or you enjoy watching videos of cute animals online. Have these things at the ready for when you need a moment to catch your breath. Writing in a journal is an effective way of reducing stress and recharging. Spend a few minutes to check in with yourself by writing about how you’re feeling. Meditation, breathing exercises, coloring and taking a short break from technology are all simple ways of finding peace during chaotic moments. Bring along a good book, magazine or video game for a quick escape.

Flourish Psychology offers treatment for anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and other disordered eating and body image issues. By working with a therapist, you can equip yourself with the tools and resources needed to handle your day-to-day challenges. You will notice increased levels of self-esteem and a decrease in feelings of fear and stress. We want to help improve your relationship with your body, food and exercise.  

Contact us today to schedule your first session. 

How To Cope With Family Estrangement During The Holidays

How To Cope With Family Estrangement During The Holidays

Estrangement describes a situation when someone makes deliberate efforts to distance themselves from or cut ties with a family member. Sometimes, people choose to be estranged from their entire family of origin, and other times, the estrangement is limited to a certain person or group of persons. If you are currently estranged from family members (or considering it), you’re not alone. Research suggests that over a quarter of adults experience estrangement, whether initiated by them or by other family members. That’s over 70 million Americans. 

This is not the same as losing touch with family. Estrangement is a voluntary and deliberate decision. Sometimes, a sudden major event may trigger a decision to cut ties. More often, it is a process of gradually distancing yourself more and more over time as the relationship becomes increasingly strained. Many report that “the last straw” often happened after years of back and forth, or following several attempts at salvaging the relationship.

With the holiday season in full swing (and with the world opening back up), many people are looking forward to spending time with family, creating memories, and continuing traditions. But for those with difficult or strained familial relationships, this time of year can be extremely triggering and a great source of anxiety and pain. Depending on the circumstances of the estrangement, the holidays can bring about feelings of guilt, shame, loneliness, anger, or sadness. Estrangement is an incredibly difficult and complicated life experience. Be sure to practice self-care all year long and especially during triggering holidays or events. 

Common Causes of Estrangement

Estrangement is an intentional and voluntary decision There are countless factors that may lead someone to decide to cut ties with family members. For some people who were mistreated by family members in childhood, there is an immediate decision to cut ties upon reaching adulthood or a state of independence. Parental maltreatment is one of the most common reasons for estrangement. This can include physical, emotional, financial, or sexual abuse, or a failure to respect boundaries. In other instances, people may slowly come to a realization that their parent or family member is detrimental to their wellbeing and decide to distance themselves. It’s also common to come to a realization that the family member will never be able to meet your needs or to fulfill the role that you need them to play in your life. 

Many members of the LGBTQ community have cut ties with their families of origin in favor of chosen families. Others have been estranged due to disownment by homophobic or transphobic relatives. People may choose to cut ties due to a difference in value systems, or a family member’s refusal to accept aspects of a person’s identity or their lifestyle choices. Regardless of the factors influencing your decision to reduce contact with family members, your feelings are valid and it’s incredibly brave of you to make such a difficult decision for your wellbeing. 

Impact of Estrangement on Mental Health

Estrangement is often a painful and difficult experience that can affect your mental health in many ways. You may feel a lot of anxiety surrounding your decision and this anxiety may be triggered by certain events, such as holidays. You may feel guilty or regretful about your decision, which can cause chronic stress over time. Many people carry the heavy emotional weight that comes with estrangement without realizing the impact it may be having on them. 

Estrangement activates the grief response in many people, even if they were the ones to sever ties. Though you may believe that you made the right decision, you may still be mourning the loss of the relationship. This loss can be just as psychologically devastating as losing a romantic partner or experiencing the death of a loved one. For those on the receiving end of estrangement, there may be strong feelings of guilt, rejection, and loneliness. 

Coping with Family Estrangement During the Holidays

If you’re dealing with this issue, the holiday season can be an especially difficult or traumatizing time. This time of year can bring back emotions that may previously have been dormant, or bring up feelings of loneliness and isolation. It’s especially important to practice self-care and self-compassion if you’re feeling triggered. Remind yourself that it’s okay to feel your feelings. You are entitled to your anger and sadness. If you’re feeling regret, guilt, or loneliness, remind yourself that these are normal and expected emotions to have at a time like this. Try not to judge yourself (such as saying “I should be over this by now” or “It’s so pathetic that I’m crying about this) or to avoid your emotions. Feel them. Sit with them. Remember that they won’t stick around forever. Now is a good time to try journaling about what you’re feeling, or verbalizing your feelings aloud to yourself. If it helps, you can even try writing (but not sending) a letter to your estranged family member. By not bottling up your emotions, you’re better able to manage them and even learn from them.

Ahead of time, identify healthy and reliable coping mechanisms that you can use when you’re feeling triggered. Examples include going for a quick walk to clear your head or calling a trusted friend to talk. Make a playlist of songs that will provide comfort or improve your mood. Taking a shower is a relaxing distraction for many people during times of intense emotions. You can also try engaging in a creative hobby such as coloring, doodling to creating digital art. Other healthy coping mechanisms include taking care of tasks such as cleaning or gardening. Consider purposeful, relaxing, or entertaining activities that you can engage in during difficult moments. 

How can you seek out connection and companionship this holiday season? Can you create new memories with friends, partners, or your chosen family? When your familial relationships are strained, it’s important to develop fulfilling and meaningful relationships outside of your family. Many members of the queer community have embraced a chosen family, as seen in media like Paris is Burning and Pose. Non-LGBTQ people may also develop chosen families due to difficult relationships with members of their families of origin. Consider the people in your life who can provide you with support and solidarity.

Estrangement can be incredibly traumatic and difficult to deal with on your own. Working with a therapist is an empowering and effective way to process the difficult emotions that arise due to estrangement. If there is a desire for reconciliation, a relationship therapist can be an invaluable third party helping to bridge the gap. If there is no desire for reconciliation, working alone with a therapist can help you to find the closure you seek. 

The therapists at Flourish Psychology are qualified and trained in a variety of treatment modalities that can help you process this difficult situation. Schedule your first session to begin your journey towards healing. 

How to Uncover Unhelpful Core Beliefs

How to Uncover Unhelpful Core Beliefs

Core beliefs are the fundamental and foundational ideas that you hold about yourself, others and the world around you. They can best be described as the filter through which you see and interpret the information that you receive from others and from the outside world. These beliefs are deeply embedded and have a significant impact on your daily thought processes and decision making. They are always in the back of your mind and manifest in many different ways throughout our lives. These beliefs have a tremendous impact on everything from self-esteem to relationships and even your finances. They help to shape your perception of reality and are often the driving force behind your automatic or intrusive thoughts. 

Here’s an example. Your boss sends an email requesting an urgent meeting tomorrow morning. The email comes out of the blue and you aren’t sure what it may be about. If your automatic thought is that you’re going to be fired, you may have a core belief that you are not good at your job or a belief that good things are always taken away from you. Someone with different core beliefs may have a more neutral attitude towards the meeting. Another person may believe that the meeting is signaling a promotion or salary increase. 

Most of our core beliefs are inherited from our families of origin. As children, the adults around us show and tell us (both directly and indirectly) the things that we should believe and accept as true. We emulate our caregivers and deeply internalize the things that we are told and shown. As we age, these beliefs become even more entrenched and we may even subconsciously seek out situations and experiences that corroborate our beliefs. In this way, the beliefs are reinforced as our experiences seem to confirm their validity. 

The good news is that you have the power to alter your core beliefs and the way you see yourself and the world around you. 

How Core Beliefs Shape Our Worldview 

Your worldview is a system of beliefs about reality and society. Like your core beliefs, your worldview is initially formed in childhood through your interactions with the adults around you. As you age and go through life, your experiences continue to shape your worldview. This system of beliefs is heavily influenced by your core beliefs and you ultimately come to accept these beliefs are the definitive truth about society and the world you live in. 

Beliefs About Ourselves

Your core beliefs about yourself are often rooted in childhood experiences. The adults in your life told you things about yourself and you accept these things as truths. These beliefs are also heavily influenced by the way that you are treated by others as you make your way through life. Both helpful and unhelpful core beliefs about yourself are formed gradually over time. With effort, you can alter or improve your core beliefs about yourself. Unhelpful beliefs include “I will never find love” and “I am a lazy person.” Helpful beliefs about yourself include “I make good decisions” and “I am worthy of good things.” Your core beliefs about yourself help to form the “rules” that you set for yourself as to what you can and cannot do. For example, you may subconsciously believe that you are not “allowed” to express anger or sadness. This rule may be tied to a core belief that your emotions are burdens to other people. You may have formed this core belief based on how people have reacted to your emotions in the past. 

Beliefs About Others 

Our experience with other people helps to form our core beliefs about people in general. For example, someone who has repeatedly experienced infidelity in relationships may form the view that “everybody cheats” even though this it not an objective truth. Because of this belief, they may approach relationships with cynicism or may avoid romantic relationships altogether. This can have the counterproductive effect of chasing away a good, faithful partner. It can also cause a self-fulfilling prophecy, where they begin cheating too, since “everybody does it.”

Core beliefs about other people can easily turn into stereotyping. For example, it’s a common core belief that wealthy people are inherently evil or selfish. This core belief does not take into consideration that wealth and morality often have little to do with each other. Many wealthy people are generous and use their money to positively impact the lives of others. Unchecked core beliefs about others can lead to self-sabotage. For example, if you believe that wealthy people are evil, you may subconsciously deny yourself of prosperity to avoid becoming “one of them.”

Core Beliefs About The World

How do you see the world around you? Is it a “dog eat dog” world or do you believe that most people are inherently good and kind? Your core beliefs about the world impact how you make your way through life and how you interact with the world. Those who believe in “every man for himself” will approach life differently from those who subscribe to the belief that “I am my brother’s keeper.”

Uncovering Your Unhelpful Core Beliefs

How much thought have you given to your core beliefs and how they may be impacting your daily life? Most of these beliefs sit unrecognized in the very back of our minds, yet they play such a significant role in our lives. By uncovering your core beliefs, you will be able to identify any unhelpful ideologies that can be replaced with healthier, more progressive beliefs. 

One way to uncover your unhelpful core beliefs on your own is to notice your automatic thoughts. The next time you have an immediate negative thought about yourself, take a moment to notice and examine it. For example, if you make a mistake at work and your first thought is “I can’t get anything right,” ask yourself where this thought came from. Do you have evidence for and against the thought? Can you think of anyone from your past who caused you to feel that way? By noticing and questioning your negative automatic thoughts, you can gain valuable insight on your core beliefs. 

Working with a therapist is an excellent way to uncover your core beliefs and identify their origins. Through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and other forms of therapy, you can develop core beliefs that are healthy, helpful and positive. 

Contact us today to schedule your first session.