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How do I change my core belief of self loathing?(7 Posts)
I have had numerous years of psychotherapy so rationally I "know" what my issues are, what is going on, why I have them.
I have been having some therapy that has had to end prematurely and there will be a gap until I am seen again (NHS). My fab therapist has honestly told me that he thinks I will need long term therapy where I can trust the person enough to dip into the deep pain/trauma I feel to make progress. I have huge attachment issues as well as rejection going on. Obviously depression etc go hand in hand with all of that...
So the point we reached was:
I am clinging to my beliefs of self loathing, not being good enough. I am very much extreme LC with my family so it is not being perpetuated by them it's me sentencing myself daily.
Rationally I can list far more evidence to support this negative opinion than that I'm an ok person/good enough parent/colleague/wife.
Has anyone managed to change their inner belief, if so how????
Mindfulness helps me get space from my core beliefs. I think I am unlovable but I know that is just a belief that I don't have to get involved in. I can just watch it with curiosity, almost amusement.
This is a bit long because it is my pet subject! Massive 'Advice' alert for the following.
An approach you could look at which I find really great is Acceptance & Commitment Therapy or 'ACT' which could provide a nice filler before the next set of therapy. It will fit in with any therapy or beliefs, so won't interfere with any other work you are already doing on yourself. There is nothing 'woo' about it.
Here's a snapshot of some of the way it works. When I say 'you' here I mean 'a person' anyone like you or me, not to put pressure on you to do something to take my advice in any way.
Instead of looking at the content of your core belief, instead look at the strength of your attachment to that core belief.
Notice that you can notice when you are having these thoughts, and then, notice what you do next.
How does having these thoughts affect my behaviour, and where I want to go in life.
It could be as simple as starting with noticing this sort of thing: Time for a cup of coffee, I put kettle on, oh I must buy a new kettle this one is leaking, I'll go and look up the Argos catalogue on the laptop, oh that's a nice sideboard, I wish we could afford that, look at the state of my house, why can't he clear out that spare room, he does nothing I ask him, he never listens to me anyway and doesn't give a shit about my feelings, I suddenly feel so alone, I can't even keep this house tidy and am a useless parent, why did I end up in this situation?'.
And it started with wanting a cup of coffee!! Suddenly I am in a black mood and it seems like my husband is to blame and then myself ultimately and notice how my tone towards myself changed. I didn't notice the train of thought, and I didn't notice that I ended up sitting on the laptop for an hour, and that actually takes me further from the sort of person I want to be than closer to it. I only noticed the 'messages' my brain fed me.
So instead of having to change our beliefs, we can start to notice that these beliefs are not 'us'. They don't define us.
And slowly you can start to kind of notice the nature of the 'glue' that binds you to these beliefs, rather than have to actually refute or prove what your beliefs are. This glue gets very strong when we are emotionally compromised and gets weaker (or we are less driven by our thoughts) when everything is going ok.
The underlying nature of a person is not what their beliefs are. It is just our minds think we need the beliefs to guide us.
Our minds love a pattern and they love something to cling to. So when we are stressed, anxious etc our minds really want something strong to guide us - and if you think about it, these negative thoughts are pretty 'strong' and maybe our minds think they are a pretty good log to cling to when we are tossed about by our emotions.
Whereas you can take a different approach to be guided by your values as a person. Such as, what sort of person do I want to be, and how do I want to treat people and how do I want to treat myself. Values is another element of ACT. ACT helps us to build our values so that we can use these as the stars to guide our lives rather than wait for the right belief or thought to come along, or wait for the yucky feelings to go away.
The first step is noticing thoughts - and to notice that you are having the thought rather than just go straight in and believe and act on that thought.
You simply say to yourself - I am noticing I am having the thought that I am a failure. This simple exercise just creates a little space between you and the thought, and in time, in this space you can choose what to do.
So before someone might have the thought: I am a failure and always have been. Then the person believes that thought and goes and gets into bed. They think they are in bed because they are a failure - to use a crude example. And it seemed like we had no choice but to get into bed.
No - they had a thought, they believed the thought, and then the behaved in a way that the thought told them to.
This method, you can have the thought. Then because you noticed yourself having it, you can say, oh there are those thoughts about me being a failure. Now, I have a choice to act here - will my next action take me in the direction I want my life to go, or will it take me away from that?
ACT also teaches very practical and accessible mindfulness exercises - not meditation. And of course it's not just about managing thoughts, ACT is also about learning to have the feelings, in the service of a valued life.
There is a little video link below about the noticing of thoughts: and two book recommendations which explain it better than me.
A more simpler book called 'The Happiness Trap' by Russ Harris, and then a more hefty self-help workbook called 'Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life' by Steven Hayes, both should be in bookshops. I was having counselling when I read the Get Out of Your Mind book and it really helped me get more out of the counselling.
Sorry it is so long!
Thanks sadie9 that does sort of help, will certainly get the books.
What I struggle with would be something like this:
"I am not good at anything" - I can't think of anything I am good at, only the looooooooooooong list of things I'm not good at.
"No-one loves me" - well my dc love me because they are programmed to, all DC love there parents no matter how awful they are. So no-one loves me for who I am.
"I don't have anything to look forward to" - I cannot think of anything I want to do, there are many things I have tried but I don't "enjoy" them.
That's really interesting sadie, thanks for the post.
OP - that sounds really hard. Do your beliefs derive from your childhood experiences, do you think?
Oh yes completely. Continual criticism. Huge attachment issues - I suspect my Mum was probably depressed/didn't cope after I was born - my older brother has always loathed/resented me so something clearly wasn't ok at that time.
I've also had 3 very traumatic (to me) episodes in my life so in some ways allowing myself to feel anything is very overwhelming. I actually find compliments as equally painful as criticism.
There is no quick fix!
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