4 Steps to Changing Negative Core Beliefs


One of the central facets of negative-thinking patterns and negative core beliefs comes not from the negative thought alone, but from our willingness to agree with it. For example, I am amazed at how often my clients consistently believe they’re not good enough. These are people who are often successful in their career, amazing attentive parents, and still do not think they are “good enough.” They’ve adopted this belief hook, line, and sinker. Without even questioning it.

Common Negative Core Beliefs

Other common negative core beliefs that often plague people are “I’m not smart,” “I’m inadequate,” “I’m permanently damaged,” “I’m unlovable,” and “I’m not beautiful” to name a few. By the way, none of us are exempt. I recently worked out and transformed the negative belief “I cannot succeed,” which was causing me a boat load of anxiety and angst. Now I feel excited about my new adventure, almost a new level of confidence. I have no crystal ball; I still may not succeed, but at least I didn’t let my fears stop me at “I cannot succeed.”

Not that any of this is easy. Sometimes it can take months or even years to make a change. I believe that is because we don’t know how to change.
I want to change that. I want everyone to know how to change this. It’s doable, it can be transformational, and it enhance your life. Trust me…I’ve done it a few times. On myself, as well as my clients.

In helping my clients transform their negative core beliefs, there are 4 basic steps to changing this habitual pattern once and for all:

  • Awareness: You must become aware of the negative belief. Become aware of how often it comes up for you. You cannot change anything until you first become aware of it. Think about what you would rather believe about yourself. In this example, the likely preferred belief would be “I am good enough.”
  • Make a Choice: You must then decide if you want to continue believing the negative belief or authentically believe the more rational positive core belief. This is your choice. Most people don’t want to continue thinking poorly of themselves; however, they usually don’t know they can change it and/or how to change it. The thinking pattern has now become a habit and feels very true. It’s important to note that negative core beliefs are false, we just believe they are true and sometimes they “feel” true…only because we carry these false beliefs around for several years and they become a part of, what I call, our first language. The new belief feels like a foreign language because it is. We are not used to saying and thinking highly of ourselves.
  • Evidence to Support the Truth: Gather all the evidence you can to support the new belief. For example, “I am good enough because I make great dinners for my children; I take care of my children as best I can; My work ethic is impeccable; I work very hard to provide for my family, etc.” Continue to add to this list each day. Keep in mind it’s okay to “toot your horn.” This is not about arrogance. This is about authentically valuing yourself.
  • Effort: There is research that shows it is much easier to adopt a negative thinking pattern or belief and much more difficult to change a negative thought to a more positive thought. Therefore, it takes effort and time on your part to get to the point of genuinely believing the new more positive belief. When you decide to value yourself as good enough you begin to naturally transform your habitual self-defeating negative core belief into the more authentic core-belief “I am good enough.”

Your Effort Will Pay Off

With time and effort, you will remove the power the negative core belief once had on you. It will become a thing of the past.
Try this exercise whenever you feel a negative core belief influencing the direction of your life. In your inner monologue, speak up for yourself and strongly disagree! You will be surprised how such a simple acknowledgement of fact can go along a way in our daily work of caring for ourselves.

Get Help If You Get Stuck

If you find yourself struggling with making the change, get help. It’s ok to get help in an area where you feel stuck. Find a trusted Coach or Therapist and discuss with them how they will help you change those negative core beliefs that are wreaking havoc in your life. I promise you, you do not have to live with them!
As I like to point out to my clients, the most important relationship you have is the one you have with yourself. What do you want to believe about yourself? If you put forth the effort in making this change, you will genuinely begin to feel better about who you are.

  • I love that you mention doing this work yourself. I always catch myself wishing I’d just get past all my negative core beliefs so I can finally be “happy”, but I have to remind myself that we never stop growing or learning. I’ll always need to spend time getting my mind focused on the right things. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Not as long as I know how to handle it. 🙂

    • Thank you Mel B for your nice comment! Yes, remember these beliefs are not necessarily true. We carry them around for so long, they feel true; however, they are not. Practicing them is definitely helpful. Best wishes to you!

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