Emotional Wellbeing


Self Improvement

Mandy Kloppers

How to question your beliefs

We all have an inner critic that puts us down and fills us with self doubt. The first step in dealing with this is identifying what the negative thoughts are that you are listening to. Many of us have negative thoughts swirling around constantly and many of these thoughts are below our conscious radar. In other words, we don’t often realize that we are brainwashing ourselves with nonsense thinking that is exactly that – just thoughts.
It’s very important to figure out how much negativity you are feeding yourself because it affects the quality of our lives far more than many of us realize.

Your core beliefs can impact every aspect of your life, from self-image to career aspirations to your sense of what’s right and wrong. And though you may sometimes be aware of your core beliefs, they often come through in your behaviors in an unconscious way.

Once you identify a self-defeating belief (for example: I will never be successful), you can question it to see if it is true for you, don’t automatically accept thoughts as fact..

Here are some examples of potentially positive core beliefs:

  • “People are essentially kind.”
  • “If I work hard, I will be successful.”
  • “I deserve to be loved.”
  • “Every setback is a learning opportunity.”

On the other hand, here are some examples of core beliefs that may cause you distress:

  • “I don’t fit in.”
  • “The world is a dangerous place.”
  • “Nobody likes me.”
  • “People are essentially selfish.”
  • “If I love someone, they will leave me.”
Difference between core beliefs and cognitive distortions

Cognitive distortions are linked to some of your core beliefs, but they’re not quite the same thing.

A core belief is a fixed thought or idea that affects how you see the world. It can be positive, negative, or neutral.

A cognitive distortion, on the other hand, is an exaggerated thought pattern that develops over time and isn’t based on any actual evidence. It typically makes you see situations as being more negative than they really are.

Some examples of cognitive distortions include:

  • Catastrophizing: assuming the worst case scenario in every situation
  • Overgeneralization: applying the outcome of one situation to all situations
  • Personalization: thinking you’re fully responsible for everything that happens around you

Challenging and fixing cognitive distortions is one of the goals of CBT.


Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you break out from false beliefs that limit you in life:

1) Write down the belief. Ask yourself, “Is that true?” Can you think of examples in your life that contradict that belief?
2) Why do I believe that? What seems true about this belief? How does it help me to believe this negative idea of myself?
3) What might happen if I did not believe that belief? Let your imagination go with this one. Write freely.
4) If that belief disappeared, would that be okay? The answer to this one may surprise you. It often leads to the discovery of some fear you may need to work through.

For example: If I am successful then I may lose my friends…

When you change a belief, the private version you have of reality will change too. You will seek different experiences and be attracted to different people. The world is full of possibilities, don’t allow your thinking to stop you from exploring what might very well be yours for the taking.

Mandy X