Breaking Free from Unhealthy, False Beliefs

Finding yourself is really the process of returning to yourself. It’s a process of unlearning, an excavation, the process of remembering who you really were before this world got its hands on you.”  

The following four steps for breaking free from unhealthy, self-destructive beliefs was first suggested by Jeffrey M. Schwatrz, in his book The Mind and the Brain.

1. Step 1: Relabel the thought as a self-limiting belief, not a truth. Beliefs are not the same as truths. People believe all sorts of things. Some of these are true, some are partial truths, and some of our beliefs are completely false.

So, what are you trying to achieve when you relabel a self-limiting belief? Essentially, you’re trying to divest the old belief of its closed-mindedness and certainty. Of course, our old entrenched beliefs will not change overnight … but at least it’s a starting point.

For example, you could reframe an old familiar, negative belief in the following way:

Instead of saying: “I am worthless and deserve to be rejected

Try saying: “I’m having the thought that I am worthless and deserve to be rejected.”

The second leaves you feeling a lot less stuck!

2. Step 2: Reattribute the source of the belief to neural circuits in the brain. What you’re doing here is reminding yourself that your brain is sending you preprogrammed messages. So, it’s not reality that’s the source of the belief. It’s a thought that you keep having, again and again. Hence, the belief has its origins back in the past, and isn’t related to the present time.

3. Step 3: Refocus and find something else to do. Something to distract you from your negative thought patterns, so you don’t get trapped in their grip and power. This should be relaxing, or be something you enjoy – like going for a walk, or playing the guitar.

Why is this helpful?

In a way, in doing this you are buying yourself time, and teaching your brain that it doesn’t have to listen … for it can choose to do something that’s enjoyable instead.

4. Step 4: Re-evaluate the impact the belief has had on you. Ask yourself: “What has this belief ever done for me? How has it affected my relationships and life?”

For example, you might tell yourself that “I deserve to be loved” – whilst the louder, dominating, underlying belief is: “My feelings, wants and wishes don’t matter nearly as much as other peoples’ feelings, wants and wishes matter.”

When you ask what this negative belief has done for you, you might find yourself saying something like the following:

It has made me resentful. I have felt that I’ve been used. It has stopped me going for what I want in life. It’s affected my choices, my relationships, and health.”  

Once our eyes are opened, and we can see the truth, we can start to work on changing old entrenched, false beliefs. And doing this can help us find our true self once again.


12 thoughts on “Breaking Free from Unhealthy, False Beliefs

      • Today was a better day. It’s been twenty years, but the triggers are still there. The effects of betrayal trauma are like rivers that go underground, only to pop up a hundred kilometers away. I used kilometers, instead of miles, because this is a Canadian blog.🇨🇦


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