Core Beliefs

By Michelle Morand

The entire concept of a relationship with yourself hinges on what you believe about your own worth and acceptability. If you are still buying in to the old story you learned as a child/young adult that you are: (a) undeserving of love; (b) unacceptable as you are; or (c) unsafe in the world, you will have a difficult time trying anything new which goes against that deeply-ingrained story. Thus, while you may truly desire to change your relationship with food and to feel better about yourself, the underlying belief that you carry will continuously undermine your efforts and ultimately bring you to a place of paralysis and procrastination. This only reinforces the old belief and leads you to feel more stuck and hopeless. You may question why you are bothering to try to change when you have never been successful and always return to the same old behaviour. You may also feel as though you should give up. This is not uncommon, but it is important for you to see it as the old all-or-nothing thinking that it is.

I believe that you won’t stay in this defeated and doomed place for long, because something in you wants more. You want a life that is yours to live; one that inspires and fulfills you. And this desire motivates you to try again. Unfortunately, what you have been trying and re-trying is not likely to work. The restriction of the Diet Mentality and the “motivation through criticism” of the Drill Sgt.(that critical voice in your head) only serve to reinforce your old defeating beliefs. The simple act of tuning out to your body and listening to what someone or something outside of you says you should do is a gesture of disrespect and a true indignity to yourself.

As a child and/or young adult, you may have had to focus more outside yourself than within in order to survive in your family of origin or in other certain circles. You may have had to tune out to your authentic needs and feelings in order to remain in an uncomfortable situation, without being aware of how uncomfortable you were. As an adult, you are capable of creating relationships which support you to be the best that you can be. But as long as you are buying in to the old story about your worth and deservedness, you will continue to create relationships and life situations which mirror this old harmful perspective of yourself.

Let’s take a good solid look at that old story of yours and what you are still telling yourself about your role in the situation. First, let’s explore the old core beliefs that are influencing you on a daily basis.

1. What does your Drill Sgt. say about you when you are being self-critical?

2. What names does the Drill Sgt. call you when you are angry and frustrated?

3. What were the words people in your life used to describe you when they were angry or disappointed in you?

4. What messages about yourself did you receive from your parents, other family members, and/or peers (these can be verbal and non-verbal)?

Consider the above information. If you could capture the essence of your doubts about yourself in a single sentence: I am _______________________,

what would it be? You may actually come up with a few sentences. Some common and very debilitating old beliefs which you may be carrying are: I am ugly; I am fat; I am stupid; I am worthless; I am undeserving; I am not good enough; I am not enough; I am unacceptable; I am unlovable; I am a burden.

Food Obsession and Your Beliefs Towards Changing

Allow yourself to be completely honest right now about what you truly believe at your core. Those old beliefs are only a child’s confused interpretation of the events going on around them. They were not true then, and they aren’t true now, regardless of how much evidence you could show me to the contrary. We will prove this together in a few minutes. Now think about your earliest recollection when you thought and felt this way about yourself. What was going on? Who was it that gave you this message verbally or non-verbally? What do you now know, as an adult, about the situation which you couldn’t have known, imagined, or understood as a child? What was going on for them? Have you since witnessed this person behaving similarly toward someone else, perhaps even toward themselves? If you find yourself feeling resistant to this exercise and to really looking at those old situations from a new perspective, take the time to ask yourself, “What do I think will happen if I allow myself to let that old story go? What benefit do I get from holding on to my old interpretation?” Sometimes we resist seeing things in a new or different light, despite much supporting evidence, because we fear that we must say that those events didn’t impact or harm us if we let go of our story. Trust me, this is not so. You were clearly impacted by those events or you wouldn’t have had to implement the coping strategies of food, co-dependency, anxiety and making it about you. No one here is disputing that you were impacted. What I’m saying is that, instead of being impacted once for each incident, which is traumatic enough, the old core beliefs which you carry only serve to re-injure you daily. You don’t deserve this and it doesn’t benefit you in any way. It is my intention to support you to stop.

This is an excerpt from the chapter on Core Beliefs in the new book: Food Is Not the Problem: Deal With What Is. To order the book, please go to:

Posted in: Relationship with Self

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  1. Christian February 14, 2007

    This concept that we hold core beliefs about ourselves that undermine us rang very true for me. Somewhere inside me I have these feelings of unworthiness that hold me back.

    In my case these stories are not around body image but instead sound something like…. “he is such a bright kid, if only he would learn to apply himself…. he is so easily distracted…. he has no self discipline… he only does well at things he finds easy….” I tell myself that I need to work harder but deep inside I know I will never succeed because I will always be that undisciplined mind…. In my dealings with the outside world I never feel like I really know what I am doing, I never feel like I can stand up as the expert in my field because I never feel that I worked hard enough or really earned what I have…. I don’t deserve it …. I am just faking it… This is perhaps the most compelling issue I wrestle with every day of my adult life. I suddenly see so clearly where these messages come from! I have been hearing them since kindergarten!!

    Reading your article brought two things to mind for me.

    First: thank you…. You inspired me to look more closely at these issues and where they come from. In a sudden flash I saw how simple this incorrect picture I have of myself is. You also helped me see that IF (always the if!) I can learn to let go of these stories I can transform some of the major issues I wrestle with each day in my life.

    Secondly. It shows me just how much these are universal truths -regardless of the outside picture of our family of origin we all have these same experiences in one from or another and the depth of the damage is not necessarily reflective of the true depth of the struggles we went through. In some cases these issues come out in our relationships with food -for me they manifest themselves in other areas of my life but your teachings ring just as true for me. The bottom line for all of us is that these beliefs serve to hold us back from ever living a full and complete life….

    I just wanted to say thank you and share that your perspective and your work is very powerful for me. I am sure it can be for others.


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