What do therapists mean when they talk to you about having a healthy belief system and how can you get one? What are counselors referring to when they discuss core beliefs and how they might be negatively impacting your behaviors and attitudes? A healthy belief system begins long before you are able to remember. Believe it or not, your healthy belief system begins forming as early as when you enter this world at birth. Long before you have the ability to form rational thoughts about yourself, speak about how you are feelings, or can express yourself, you are forming opinions about yourself based on the environment around you. Even the smallest of gestures are categorized inside your mind to place value and worth on your existence. These gestures that contribute to your healthy beliefs can begin at birth with something as simple as an answer to a cry, or a response from your mother to your hunger or discomfort. When your needs are consistently met in compassionate, and loving ways, you begin to feel a sense of worth, and value; your healthy beliefs about yourself are forming.
As you get older, the responses to your needs become more complex, but still provide your with feedback about your sense of identity and self worth. These complex gestures from your parents or caregivers might include an approving “Congratulations!” for a good report card, or a high five for a soccer goal that was scored. All the while, you are storing this information into your “value bank” and as the bank continues to fill up, you are developing your core belief system and your sense of who you are, what you are worth, and what you will need to do to maintain this.
Think of a value bank as your measure of self-worth. Your value bank is what defines your identity, your core sense of being…it is your quantifiable worth, your personal sense of value. Your value bank is the account from which you draw your sense of worth and value, and the account from which you write checks from to the people and experiences in your life. Those checks can often be high in value, which produce good returns with loving, supportive relationships and enjoyable life experiences. Sometimes those checks can be low and produce limiting returns which can still be rewarding, but often leave a person feeling unfulfilled or satisfied within their personal or professional lives. Still, other times, a person’s value bank only offers them the ability to write checks that just keep bouncing, with a return of on-going negative interactions and experiences, and limited awareness, no matter how hard they try to figure out what’s going wrong.
Healthy beliefs about oneself are directly related to a person’s sense of worth and value. A sense of worth is rooted in a the very core of who you are and it perpetuates an internal dialogue that follows. If you have a strong sense of value and self-worth, your inner talk will usually be positive, encouraging, and thus will attract this in life experiences. A healthy belief system develops when you feel loved, wanted, important, are secure in your surroundings, and when you can trust in the consistent positive feedback you get from your care-givers. From all of that, you develop beliefs about your value. This might begin in the earliest of developmental years as a simple formed healthy belief such as “I am worth being cared for.” This healthy belief can begin to be shaped and interpreted by a basic gesture of a parent providing nourishment, safe surroundings, or a comforting touch to you on a consistent basis. This healthy belief of “I am worth being cared for” gets added to your value bank in healthy ways. As you get older, the beliefs continue to develop and might include “I deserve to feel proud of myself,” “I deserve respect, kindness, and to be made a priority.”
Your belief system is what motivates you to create action in your life to accomplish the goals you want for yourself. Your belief system is what subconsciously motivates you to attract healthy or unhealthy relationships. Your belief system plays a role in your ability to achieve academic or professional success and it contributes to how you gain, or fall short, of experiencing a satisfying and rewarding life. These are all reasons why it is so important to develop a healthy belief system, to become aware of the unhealthy beliefs so you can change them, and to seek counseling if you are struggling with a true sense of your worth.
Unhealthy beliefs often actually co-exist quite nicely with healthy beliefs. They can be non-invasive and usually cause minimal conflict within yourself or your experiences. Unhealthy beliefs are worth becoming aware of because they are usually based on a false perception of your value. As you begin to develop, your value comes from your interactions with your immediate world around you. This unhealthy belief system deducts from your sense of self-worth and leaves emptiness in your value bank. In addition to that, it plays a role and is just as responsible as your healthy beliefs for motivating your actions and behaviors, and shaping experiences in your life. Where do unhealthy beliefs come from? Let’s say, for example, your parents were overly anxious about making sure you were safe. Perhaps they didn’t allow you to ever play unsupervised or they instructed you to never speak to strangers even in safe settings. This well-intended gesture could easily form a belief that might look like “I am not safe in this world.”
As you develop, there could be other unhealthy beliefs that formed from environment influences such as inconsistent support at home, an unstable living environment, or overly demanding expectations for success, just to name a few. These experiences can lead to unhealthy beliefs that might sound like, “No one will ever love me,” “I’m not good enough,” or “I can’t trust anyone.” When these type of beliefs remain intact or outnumber a healthy belief system, the value bank becomes empty, and dysfunction in your life will occur. You might not be able to form healthy connections or relationships. You might find yourself never reaching your true potential at work. You may even feel like you can’t understand why if you have everything you want, you still feel unhappy.
Counselors are skilled at helping you uncover your unhealthy beliefs and helping you create healthy beliefs about yourself. Counseling helps individuals discover healthy belief systems, improve inner dialogue to support those healthy belief systems, and truly begin to challenge the thoughts that have been holding you back from achieving your goals.
Awareness is the first key to developing a healthy belief system. Counseling offers individuals an ability to peel back layers and develop new interpretations about their surroundings based on reality and facts, rather than misconceptions from childhood. Your value and your sense of self-worth are critical to your ability to experience successful relationships, professional success, true happiness, and fulfilling life experiences. Healthy beliefs about yourself result in healthy inner dialogue and a sense of worth and value. A healthy belief system allows you to continue to maintain a full value bank and as you write those checks to the people and experiences in your life, they will continue to provide you with high returns.