Depression and Core Beliefs
This is the fourth in a series of blogs about depression. We have already looked at the links between depression and sleep, and how over thinking and having a negative bias are linked to depression. This blog looks at depression and core beliefs. Next week’s blog will look at a useful tool we can use to challenge our core beliefs.
What are core beliefs?
Core beliefs are deep beliefs about ourselves, other people, and the world around us that we have come to rely on very deeply. We develop these deep beliefs from what has happened to us and from what we’ve been told to believe.
For example, if you witness violence in your home growing up, your core belief may be “caring people always hurt each other or that the world is a frightening place where you should trust no-one.”
On the other hand, your past experiences may have led you to the core beliefs that you are safe, that you are in control of what happens to you, that other people are essentially good and can be trusted.
Once we’ve formed these beliefs, we usually stop thinking much about them. They become a natural part of who we are and how we function. We tend to act on them automatically, unconsciously.
How do I work out what my own core beliefs are?
- Think about recent situations that have presented problems for you
Try to sort out your reactions from the facts of the situation and see if you can spot the belief through which you see the situation. When it becomes visible, you can begin to evaluate its accuracy and usefulness.
- Pay Attention to Thoughts and Feelings
Suppose you experience a rush of thoughts such as “I don’t feel safe leaving my house.” It might help you to stop and notice clearly that the emotion behind this is fear and the core belief is “I’m not safe.” This core belief may feel like fact but it may not be accurate. Facts include things that are seen, heard, said, or done; they are observable.
- Evaluate How the Belief Helps and Hinders You
Most beliefs have both advantages and disadvantages. If you believe you are safe only inside your house, you will mostly stay inside your house, but at what cost? If you stay in your house, it may be harder to get other essential needs met, such as for connecting with other people, even being able to go out to work or to shop. You may become depressed if you never go out. If your core beliefs tend to hinder rather than help you, there are almost certainly other, better choices if only you can learn to see them. It is well worth giving this a try, even if only as a mental exercise. It can be very easy to misread or misinterpret events in your life, to miss seeing all the facts, especially those that don’t quite fit the belief. When there are two interpretations that fit the facts equally well, you can choose the one that has the most advantages for you. We can’t always choose to change the facts of our lives, but we do have some choice when it comes to how to interpret those facts.
Need some advice and support?
If you are feeling depressed at the moment and would like to talk about it in complete confidence, call Alison Winfield, Mindfully Well Counselling Cork on 087 9934541.
Book a counselling session today!