My Core Beliefs

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been working on CBT while reading the self-help book ‘Mind Over Mood’. Despite the book’s rather annoying/ flippant title, and the fact that it’s kind of a ‘CBT for dummies’ kind of book, I have found it somewhat helpful. I’ve done CBT using that book before but it seemed to trigger a lot of memories/ flashbacks of school bullying, which I found very distressing at times, so I stopped doing it. It can also be very frustrating and quite hard work sometimes. The authors seem to assume that your thought processes in a distressing situation should be a simple straight line, but mine is more like nuclear fission, so it can be difficult to keep track of all the different thoughts and to challenge them all.

Today, I was working on the part of the book that deals with negative core beliefs (i.e. beliefs that you have about yourself, other people, or the world, that you believe to be 100% true due to your experiences). This involved analysing all the ‘thought records’ I’ve completed over the last 2 months in order to find the common themes, and therefore core beliefs, that they had in common. The book then asks you to list your core beliefs as absolute statements (“I am…”, “Other people are…”, “The world is…”). These are mine:


  • unlikeable
  • …unlovable
  • …pathetic
  • …unacceptable
  • …a loser
  • …an outcast
  • …incapable of belonging
  • …incapable of making friends
  • …incapable of getting a boyfriend
  • …unattractive/ ugly
  • …undesirable
  • …a horrible/ bad person
  • …weak
  • …no good/ not good enough
  • …useless
  • …socially clueless
  • …stupid
  • …boring
  • …incompetent
  • …an idiot
  • …a waste of space
  • …a failure
  • …immature (in the social/ life experience sense)
  • …worthless
  • …clueless
  • …faulty
  • …beyond help
  • …socially incompetent
  • …inferior


  • …judgemental
  • …cruel
  • …hurtful
  • …intolerant
  • …not to be trusted
  • …against me
  • …horrible
  • …frightening
  • …sadistic
  • …unkind
  • …better than me
  • …critical


  • …against me

The core beliefs in bold are the ones that appeared by far the most frequently. Please note that my core beliefs about other people don’t apply to all people. I don’t really believe that the majority of individuals that I’m close to or that I like are sadistic, but I believe that people in general are sadistic, thanks to years of bullying. I hope no one who reads this blog is offended by my core beliefs about other people. Even though logic tells me that not everyone is cruel or sadistic, I still have trouble believing that the majority of people wouldn’t behave in that way towards me if they knew how weird and awkward I am.

It’s all very well knowing what my core beliefs are but I just hope I can find some way to challenge and diminish them. If anything, I suppose the above list is testament to how much bullying as a child/ teenager can mess you up.

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7 Responses to My Core Beliefs

  1. The Blonette says:

    Word. Bullying has such a huge effect…..and often the person who bullied you will approach you years later and say it was ‘just a bit of fun!’, just a bit of fun that made my life 2x as hard 😦

    • Gemma says:

      I’m really sorry to hear that that happened to you. Some people really can be horrible and seem to lack empathy. I feel that this quote by Michel Foucault is particularly relevant to bullying: “People know what they do; frequently they know why they do what they do; but what they don’t know is what what they do does”.

  2. Nice blog. While your negative core beliefs pertaining to yourself and other people are most likely untrue, surely the belief that the world is unfair and unkind is generally true? I actually find the belief that the world is inherently unfair quite comforting: we’re not born equal, so it’s just an immutable property of the world that I’m more prone to be anxious/depressed/suicidal and others are not. On the flip side, it’s also an unfair world that allows me to be born in a Westernised country, free of physical afflictions, with relative affluence, whereas loads of people do not have these luxuries.

    • Gemma says:

      Thank you. Yes, I do believe that the world is very unfair – millions are dying of starvation because they can’t afford to feed themselves or their families, while others live in mansions with 5 cars and more money than they know what to do with. I also believe that the world IS generally unkind, and that I AM generally socially incompetent and socially clueless. Just because something is a negative core belief does not mean it can’t be true. I’m not really sure why I included the “unfair” and “unkind” beliefs on this post; I may delete them because, as yourself and an online friend have pointed out, there’s nothing I can do to change those things. I was struggling to come up with any more beliefs under the “The world is…” category, other than other negative things that I generally do believe to be true, such as “…depressing”, “…pointless”, and so on. Even though the socially clueless/ incompetent core beliefs are true, I will leave them on this list because I will hopefully become less socially incompetent with more social experience, and I plan on making an action plan and doing more exposure therapy to slowly build up my social competency and confidence.

      I like what you said about there being a positive in the negative of the world being unfair. I never really thought about it in that way before – I often (thanks to what other people have told me over the years) believe that I am this way because I’m a bad person and don’t try hard enough.

  3. Nick says:

    I can definitely relate to most of your core beliefs.. Bullying really affected my view of the world as well and it can be really hard to change that. Have you found that book useful so far? I was thinking of going back and trying the Overcoming Social Anxiety one again but it’s quite hard to motivate myself sometimes.

    This is just my personal take on it, but I think one of the things that has solidified my core beliefs is the fact that I withdrew from life so much after I was bullied (though it wasn’t really bullying in the traditional sense) so never really had many experiences to counter how those people made me feel.

    • Gemma says:

      I have found the book somewhat helpful so far, though trying to work through CBT can be quite frustrating sometimes. I think it’s also something that has to be worked on pretty much every day (especially if you want to address/ challenge negative core beliefs). I’ve just began working on changing my core beliefs so I’ll try and be disciplined with it and see how it goes. I have the ‘Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness’ one by Gillian Butler as well, and two other CBT books (which I haven’t read yet but will hopefully get around to reading at some point). I’m glad to hear that you’re thinking of trying self-help again. I really hope it can help you. It’ll probably take a long time and a lot of work to change your core beliefs (you’ve probably had your negative core beliefs for longer than I have), and it might be very frustrating at times, but hopefully you will gradually improve. I can understand not being able to find the motivation at times; It can be very, very tough when you suffer from depression as well as social anxiety. I’ve found it helpful that the book I’m currently working on addresses both anxiety and depression.

      I think that makes a lot of sense. I’m not as socially isolated as you are but I think not having any friends (except online friends) for the past 5 years, and having only minimal social interaction with people my own age, has significantly contributed to my core beliefs. I think if I had a small group of genuine friends (who would accept me for who I am) that I could regularly meet up with, my self-esteem would probably significantly improve. I often feel that I’m still in exactly the same mindset that I was in back in high school, thinking that everyone is a potential bully. I just hope that a mixture of CBT, exposure therapy, and time can help to reduce those feelings.

  4. Pingback: Sorry! – Part 2 | Diary of a social phobic

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