“Negativity is cannibalistic. The more you feed it, the bigger and stronger it grows.” — Bobby Darnell
Your personal belief system can work for you or against you.
When it’s working against you, your mood is subject to whatever is going on around you.
You feel a sense of entitlement, or love is a requirement for your self-esteem.
You take things personally or try to control the world around you.
You’re a perfectionist and nothing is ever good enough.
This post is about how to recognize when your world view isn’t working, or worse, working against you, and what to do about it.
When Your Personal Belief System is Working for You
An amazing things happens when your personal belief system is working for you …
When your personal belief system is working for you, your self-worth is not based on your achievement.
You don’t seek others for approval.
You’re able to find happiness inside yourself. You don’t feel entitled to everything. Love is not a requirement for your happiness or self-worth. You don’t need other people to agree with you.
You let yourself make mistakes and you don’t always have to try your best or be the best at everything. You can roll with life’s punches and your mind is a fortress that serves and protects you.
In the book Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy Revised and Updated, Dr. David Burns shares the patterns of self-defeating attitudes and the patterns behind a healthy and supportive personal belief system.
What a Self-Defeating Belief System Looks Like
Silent assumptions are how you define your personal worth. They’re the base of your self-esteem. They represent your value system and your personal philosophy. Dr. Burns provides some examples of silent assumptions that lead to a self-defeating belief system:
- “If someone criticizes me, I feel miserable because this automatically means there is something wrong with me.”
- “To be a truly fulfilled human being, I must be loved.”
- “If I am alone, I am bound to be lonely and miserable.”
- “My worth as a human being is proportional to what I’ve achieved.”
- “If I don’t perform (or feel or act) perfectly, I have failed.”
According to Dr. Burns, if you learn to expose and challenge your own self-defeating belief system, you lay the foundation for a personal philosophy that is valid and self-enhancing. You will be on the road to joy and emotional enlightenment.
Categories of Attitudes
Dr. Burns provides a summary of key attitudes:
- Achievement – your need for achievement.
- Approval – your tendency to measure your self-esteem based on how people react to you and what they think of you.
- Autonomy – your ability to find happiness within yourself.
- Entitlement – your sense of “entitlement.”
- Love – your tendency to base your worth on whether or not you are loved.
- Omnipotence – your tendency to see yourself as the center of your personal universe and to hold yourself responsible for much of what goes on around you.
- Perfectionism – your tendency to perfectionism.
Negative Patterns (Self-Defeating Attitudes / Vulnerabilities)
Dr. Burns provides examples of beliefs, results and signs of self-defeating attitudes:
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Dr. Burns provides examples of beliefs, results and signs of positive, healthy attitudes:
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For more insights and actions, check out the book Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy Revised and Updated.
Key Take Aways
Here are my key take aways:
- Know the key attitudes that affect your self-esteem. These include your attitudes around achievement, approval, autonomy, entitlement, love, omnipotence, and perfectionism.
- Beware of silent assumptions. Silent assumptions are your unchallenged assumptions that shape your attitudes and beliefs around your self-worth.
- Expose and challenge your own self-defeating belief system. Check whether your beliefs are serving you. The more you increase your awareness of your belief system, the more you can evaluate and reshape it to serve you.
- Adopt healthy patterns over unhealthy patterns. Some patterns are more counterproductive than others.
Remember that attitudes are a spectrum and a sliding scale. The key is to shift from negative or counter-productive patterns to ones that better serve you.