Negative beliefs about yourself can cause many problems in your life. They make you prone to developing anxiety and depression, they keep you from taking on new challenges, and they harm your relationships. They may keep you mired in depression, anxiety, or addiction if you believe there’s no way you can get better. Even if you somehow muster the strength to get help, you may give up easily if you don’t have some belief that recovery is possible. If negative beliefs are holding you back, here are some ways to change those beliefs.
Become aware of limiting beliefs.
This may be the hardest part of changing negative beliefs. Often, our negative assumptions about ourselves become deeply buried and we’re not even aware of them. One way to dig them up is to pay attention to the times you feel especially anxious, scared, sad, or angry. What thought or experience led to that feeling? Does that always happen? When did it start? What are you afraid will happen? Think back to other times you’ve felt that way and look for patterns. It may help to write about it. Uncovering negative beliefs is incredibly challenging and most people will need the help of a skilled therapist to do it effectively.
Recognize the belief is just a belief.
Once you identify a negative belief, it usually doesn’t work to confront it head on. If your belief is “I’m totally worthless,” you can’t just replace it with “I’m incredibly valuable.” Your mind will reject it and you might even feel worse. Start by rephrasing it to, “I feel totally worthless.” That’s an objectively true statement that weakens the power of the negative belief. This essentially recategorizes your adamant belief as something more subjective and up for debate.
Question negative beliefs.
Once you no longer see your negative belief as an iron fact, but rather as just one of many ideas in your head, you can begin to probe its validity. One way is to think of contrary evidence. If you believe you are totally worthless, you might think, for example, that your sister loves you, or that you helped a friend out of a jam recently. They don’t have to be big things, just enough to weaken your negative belief.
Give it time.
This process won’t immediately banish all your negative beliefs, but it’s a start. It takes time to change beliefs you’ve assumed were true for years or decades. It may help to write in a journal every day. Notice when you got angry or depressed and what thoughts contributed to those feelings. Then acknowledge those feelings and find contrary evidence. Also write down any evidence that weakens negative beliefs. Write down a few things you can be proud of or that you’re grateful for. This helps to reinforce more positive beliefs about yourself.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or mental illness, we can help. Recovery Ways is a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have the resources to effectively treat a dual diagnosis. Our mission is to provide the most cost-effective, accessible substance abuse treatment to as many people as possible. Request information online or call us today at 1-888-986-7848.