Negative Core Beliefs: The Key to Escaping Our Mental Prison



"You are your own worst critic" ...many of us find this statement to be painfully true! I have heard many of my psychotherapy clients describe their daily thought patterns as a "mental prison" because they find themselves constantly barraged by hyper-critical messages in their own minds!

Many worry if this manner of thinking is abnormal, and while it is painful and potentially harmful for us to allow this kind of negative self-talk, it is a normal part of our human experience. These thought patterns are called "negative core beliefs" (NCB) and getting to know these messages is the first step toward mental and emotional freedom.

Negative Core Beliefs, along with Self-Protecting Behaviors (SPB), are two of the main concepts that help us understand our behaviors and make impactful changes in our daily lives. NCB's are something every person develops as a means to understand how we fit into the world. They are usually formed during childhood to help us frame our experiences and make decisions in our adult lives. Some examples of NCB's are: "not good enough", "unworthy", "unloveable", and "unimportant", just to name a few. To learn more about the development of NCB's, download and listen to my audio explanation.

Self-Protecting Behaviors are equally important; they develop as a response to our NCB's in an effort to keep ourselves safe, or to be less “not-okay” in the world. Some examples of SPB's are: withdrawing when upset, becoming angry, over-working, and laughing to mask other emotions. If you would like to map out your NCB's and associated SPB's, download this handy worksheet. As we grow and learn how to survive our daily life experiences, some of our SPB's develop into Life Patterns, which do not serve us as adults if they are too rigid or extreme. To learn more about this concept, see these explanatory videos (Part 1 below) and Part 2.


As adults, we have the opportunity to examine these beliefs and behaviors and we can update them with what we now know about ourselves and reality.

Although taking a closer look at how we think, feel, and behave is a step toward healthy living, it can also be a painful process. Don't do this alone! Contact a trustworthy friend or family member, join a local or online support group, and/or seek individual or group counseling to help you sort-it-out. You are worth the patience, love, and compassion it takes to heal!

For more information on the above topic, other psychological information, or to get connected to therapeutic services, visit my website at





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