The first step in increasing your positivity is to figure out what your core beliefs are. This is a useful exercise for teenagers and for any adult on the threshold of a new chapter in their life. It is amazing how people will live according to beliefs that they don’t even know that they have. As I say over and again… beliefs are not facts, and the most important thing to do after identifying your beliefs is embrace reality. Ask yourself how you know that is true. And here is one especially helpful hint: If a belief contains an absolute word like never or always that is often times a red flag that you are dealing with a thinking error.
For those of us who have been exposed to narcissistic abuse this is a very important exercise because often times we don’t have any idea what we believe about anything because we are taught to disregard our own perceptions and adopt those that keep the narcissists world from unraveling. Narcissists do not ever embrace reality. There are in a constant campaign to hide from reality where they are just another vulnerable, flawed human being like the rest of us. Children of narcissistic or sociopathic parents are usually riddled with insecurities so you will first need to get that condemning always critical voice off repeat in your head. Here are a few simple tricks I’ve learned along the way.
We can discover our core beliefs by using the ‘So what?’ method. When you come across a situation, you ask yourself ‘So what, if this is true, what does this mean about me?’ and then you’ll discover a thought, you repeat the question and repeat this process until you find your core belief. Here’s an example:
I’m never going to finish writing my book. So what?
No one cares. So what?
It’s too competitive. I’m not good enough. So what?
I’m too old/young. So what?
I don’t know the right people, don’t have the right education. So what?
I will be a failure. So what?
I’ll be unloved. – Here we have your core belief about yourself.
When you come across a similar situation, you’ll automatically be thinking and feeling negatively because you have a fixed belief in your head that it is going to end in you being unloved. The book will make people mad. If you reveal yourself people won’t like you. You’ll be misunderstood all over again. This quickly turns into what I call snowballing thoughts. These are thinking errors that start small and just become bigger and bigger. Here’s an example of snowballing thoughts:
In this situation, the truth is that someone glanced at you and looked a way but that one thought suddenly becomes ‘Everyone hates me’ which is far stronger and more negative. The difference between snowballing thoughts and core beliefs is that core beliefs are ingrained in to our thought patterns.
To overcome snowballing thoughts and core beliefs, you need to keep a diary of evidence. If you think you’re stupid, collect all your other exam results and compare yourself to other people in the class. Just because one or two other people beat you doesn’t mean you are stupid. If you don’t do well in every subject, that just means you are better at some subjects than others. If you think you are a bad person, write down all the nice things people say about you and see that that’s not true. Be honest when you collect this evidence, don’t use your thoughts and feelings, use the facts and hard truths. For example, ‘She’s laughing at me’ and ‘She hates me’ are things you couldn’t possibly know because you can’t read her mind but you can see that she looked at you or in your direction. You can also ask another person for advice and support. Once you’ve collected the evidence, you need to believe the evidence and begin to think more positively about yourself. Here’s some examples of collecting evidence:
‘They all hate me’
A girl across the room looked at me for a couple of seconds, she was looking around the room and looked at other people too. She said something and then laughed with her friends. I don’t know her or her friends. They haven’t looked at me since that quick glance. Although some people might not like me, I don’t know many people and I haven’t done anything to make someone hate me.
I got 70% in my Science exam. I got above 85% for all my other exams. In my last Science exam, I got 97%. The average score in the class was 64% and only 5 people got above 70%. The exam was hard, I didn’t revise much and could have revised more. I got grades A and B last year and am predicted an A this year. Teachers are leaving positive notes in my book such as ‘Good work’ and ‘Well done’. My friends come to me for help with their work