Challenging Core Beliefs & Creating Alternatives (Week 3)

Challenging Core Beliefs


As you’re describing a feeling or event, ask yourself: “And what does that say about me…?”  Keep asking it until you get to the belief.


Ask yourself next : “What are the advantages to you of holding onto this core belief?”


Creating Alternative Core Beliefs


Try to come up with a more useful, balanced Core Belief you’d prefer.  To get there, ask yourself:


“How would I like it to be?”

“If I weren’t _________, how would I like to be?”

“If (others) weren’t __________, how would I like them to be?”

“If (the world) wasn’t __________, how would I like it to be?”

Dig further with questions like:


“I want to see myself as ___________”


Your new belief doesn’t have to be ridiculously positive.  Make it believable.  You don’t have to completely deny the old belief either, just sort of loosen it.  When you find your Alternative Core Belief:


1) Rate how much you currently believe the old negative core belief (on a scale from 0 to 100).  Do the same for the new belief.


2) Work on strengthening the new belief rather than dismantling the old.  Tell yourself it’s “just a thought.”


3) Keep a Positive Data Log that contains evidence supporting the new belief (e.g. showing up on time for an appointment).


4) Re-rate how much you believe the old and new beliefs.  You can check it on a weekly basis and look for changes in the ratings.


5) Tell someone you trust about this process.  It decreases shame.


Don’t expect immediate change.  Just become more open to the possibility that a softer, more balanced view helps you feel emotionally better.  Be patient as you change.


Questions that help with this process.  When a triggering event happens, ask yourself:


“Am I being unduly negative about what actually happened?”

“Are there any other ways of looking at this?”

“Do I have any evidence to support these thoughts?”

“How would I advise someone else who had to deal with this?”

“What do I actually know to be a fact?”


Then make an evaluation or look at your options once you have this perspective.


For co-counselors, follow the affect:

Ask: What does this (internal/external) event say about you? Other people? the world? These answers interact with each other to help explain your affect, behavior, motivations.  others might interpret the same event in a different manner, for example:


Person A:                        Person B:

Self: I’m inadequate                    I’m adequate

Other: Others are critical                Others are protective

Behavior: avoidant                    dependency on others, only willing

Strategies: withdrawal from challenge            to enter into new situations w/others
Ask more questions to determine which of the many beliefs are most strongly held and central to the problem of focus. Person receiving counseling should put this in his/her own words and give examples.

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