Years ago I did an exercise where I had two pieces of paper and on each one I drew three circles—a small core, then a bigger circle around that, then a bigger circle around that. One page was titled “Positive Core Beliefs,” the other titled “Negative Core Beliefs.” In the most centered circle, the Core, I wrote “I am…” then wrote the positive or negative beliefs I had about myself (example of positive: I am creative; example of negative: I am not worth the time). The next circle out from the core was for Emotions. In this circle, I wrote the emotions I felt when I was living in those negative or positive core beliefs (example of positive: fulfilled; example of negative: depressed). And finally, the outermost circle was for Behaviors. When I am experiencing these positive or negative emotions, what am I doing? How am I behaving?
I wrote out these core beliefs about three years ago, and they’re still the same. Maybe that means I haven’t worked through the junk, or maybe they are just ingrained in me and will be something I have to work through my entire life. Probably a mix of both. But I think the thing to focus on is:
What core am I living out of?
Make those charts (or make lists of Core Beliefs → Emotions → Behaviors, or whatever version of this activity resonates with you). Put the paper with your Positive Core Beliefs somewhere you can see it every day (pin it on your wall, tape it to your mirror, put it by your bed, etc.). Aim to live in these positive beliefs + emotions + behaviors a majority of the time. If you fall into negative beliefs, that’s totally fine. Be mindful, be aware, and come back to those positive core beliefs. Take it minute by minute, hour by hour, whatever you need to do. Aim to make those stretches of time in the positive beliefs longer, and the times in the negative beliefs shorter and less frequent.
This can be hard because at least for me, those negative beliefs are very real. They all have a basis and my mind can easily be triggered and fall into that place. But that’s where the next exercise comes in:
Grab a new piece of paper, a pen or pencil, and reference your Negative Core Beliefs paper. On the new piece of paper, write statements that directly oppose each negative core belief. One by one. Let’s work off of that example I said earlier: “I am not worth the time”. So for this, I could write something like “I am worth the time.” Do this for each negative belief.
Seems simple enough, right? And maybe even so simple that you think, how could this make any difference in my life?
Now take that piece of paper, find a mirror, look at yourself, and say those counter-statements to yourself. “I am worth the time.” Say it 10 times. 20 times. 100 times. In my experience, it becomes a very powerful phrase.
So, to summarize: Reference your Positive Core Beliefs daily, and actively work to change your Negative Core Beliefs into Positive Core Beliefs by stating your counter-statements daily.
One of my favorite books about this is called You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. I wrote about it here. This book is all about affirmations—which sounds so simple, but she goes into so much detail, with so many ideas and exercises to do. I highly recommend it. I think I borrowed it from my library, then got it in audiobook to listen to on a road trip, then came home from that road trip and immediately ordered the book from Amazon. It’s so good. There are many exercises in there that I have yet to practice, but I will begin to be more diligent about this, and look forward to sharing what I learn with you.
We can heal our lives, friends. I have faith in that.
*By the time this is published, I will have done an Instagram Live on this topic on Saturday morning at 9am MST. I hope both help explain this idea! Let me know if you have any questions and I can do a follow up!
*Photo by the amazing Alicia Fish.