Beliefs in psychology: recognize, understand, change

Reading time 13 minutes
Beliefs in psychology: recognize, understand, change

Every person has internalized beliefs that influence their attitude towards themselves and others, their behavior and their decisions. Another term for these are inner beliefs. In other words, they are assumptions that you wholeheartedly believe to be true. A belief can be positive or negative in nature.

What are beliefs anyway?

We have already mentioned it in the introduction: A belief refers to a deeply rooted inner conviction. They are mostly generalizations about the following topics:

  • Limitations: "I can't do this. It's impossible."
  • Causes, "I never learned it any other way."
  • Judgments, "If I get a B in school, then I failed."

These issues affect the following areas of life:

  • Our environment: "If colleague XY is there, I can work better / worse."
  • Behaviors, "You're (not) supposed to do that."
  • Identity: "I am lovable."
  • Skills: "I can learn anything I want."
  • Spirituality: "Fate is kind to me."

Positive beliefs make you feel confident and strong. Negative beliefs limit the self. It would be easy to look at the issue in this blanket way. However, this would be too short-sighted. Both positive and negative beliefs have their justification and purpose.

Negative beliefs often fulfil a subconscious protective function in order to Disappointments to avoid. Here it is important to check the negative beliefs for their reality content: Is it really something that is not good for you? Is the warning voice of your subconscious justified? Or are you blocked in your self-realization by diffuse fears?

No change without changed beliefs

If you are struggling with any aspect of your unhappy in your life and want to make a change. you should first of all examine your beliefs. Reflection and realization are the beginning of any desired change. If you start a new project, but are already internally convinced of your failure, it will probably happen.

Beliefs are like self-fulfilling prophecies. In order to maintain your worldview, your subconscious mind will always interpret all events to fit your beliefs. When you think you can't do something, you are usually right.

However, it works just as well the other way around. If you are convinced that you can successfully accomplish a certain task, the chances are very good. Important: The positive beliefs should be realistic and fit to you and your life situation! We will talk about concrete examples later.

Childhood as a training camp: how beliefs are formed

A baby has not yet internalized any beliefs. These only develop in the course of life. Over the years, every person collects various experiences that shape their self-image and their image of the environment. Beliefs are therefore an essence of your life experiences so far.

The very first beliefs are given to us in the parental home. A child who experiences love and care perceives itself as lovable and important. Later, the social environment plays a decisive role. Children who are teased at school - whether because of their academic performance or their appearance - often have to struggle with psychological wounds into adulthood.

Those who are always told at a young age that they are not okay internalize this. Since the subconscious wants to see the imprinted beliefs confirmed, these people often fail at work and in private life. The conviction of being less worthy than others is deeply engraved in the consciousness through ever new negative experiences.

Childhood is therefore a crucial training camp for the development of our beliefs. From the first years of life, we gather experiences that shape our self-image and our perception of the world. The first beliefs are often laid in the parental home, where love, care or lack thereof create deep-seated convictions about our worth and possibilities. Later, the social environment, including experiences at school or with peers, further influences our beliefs. Children who experience bullying, criticism or rejection can develop negative beliefs about themselves that persist into adulthood. Such early internalized beliefs can lay the foundation for recurring patterns of thought and action that unconsciously control us and influence our decisions, relationships and self-esteem.

Where do beliefs come from

Beliefs dissolve

Dissolving beliefs means identifying limiting beliefs and replacing them with positive affirmations. The process involves self-reflection to recognize the roots of negative beliefs and the conscious decision to change them. Techniques such as mindfulness, visualization and working with a coach can help to develop new, empowering beliefs that promote personal growth and success.

Beliefs are not set in stone. Sometimes they change in the course of life. You may discover, without your active intervention, that your beliefs were wrong by having multiple experiences to the contrary. This usually happens in the interpersonal sphere. Namely, when the environment changes.

Dissolve your belief system: Example

Your first life partner always gave you the impression of superiority. He or she made fun of your school-leaving qualifications, your lack of English skills and your profession. You left all the important decisions to him or her, because you supposedly didn't understand anything about it. At some point you felt small and worthless, although you were self-confident in your youth.

Eventually, a breakup occurs and you meet a new partner who values you and encourages you, Making decisions. He or she asks you for advice and thus shows you that your views matter. After a while of doubting, you will realize that you have always been smart and confident, but let yourself be suppressed in the previous partnership.

Important: The above example does not mean that you can only change your beliefs if other people confirm them. Even without external confirmation, you always have the possibility to change your inner attitude towards yourself.

The example is only to show that life sometimes refutes your negative beliefs by itself. Of course, only if you are willing to let go of the past! This is especially important within the Partnership plays a special role.

Examples of negative beliefs

To effect change, you should first expose your negative beliefs. This is easier said than done. Often negative beliefs develop a dangerous momentum of their own, so that you eventually consider them normal. The following examples from different areas of life should help you to recognize the most common negative beliefs.

Habitat Self-worth

  • "I am worth less than others."
  • "Others have more and can do more than I can."
  • "I'm a failure."
  • "I am not good enough."
  • "I screwed up my life."
  • "I am defined by my accomplishments and my appearance."

sphere of life Finances

  • "Money helps me be happy."
  • "All rich people are frauds."
  • "With money, I can make my inner emptiness compensate."
  • "My fellow man just wants my money."
  • "To afford anything, you have to work hard."

Area of life love

  • "No one can love me."
  • "Nobody lasts long with me."
  • "I don't deserve to be loved."
  • "All my partnerships are doomed to failure."
  • "I make other people miserable."
  • "I always get rejected."

Life area social environment

  • "Other people constrict me."
  • "I can't trust anyone."
  • "Other people mean me harm."
  • "When I let others get to me, I make myself vulnerable."
  • "Interpersonal contact only causes conflict."

Health area of life

  • "I'm terminally ill."
  • "No one can help me."
  • "I'm too old to be active anymore."
  • "My body is against me."
  • "When I am healthy, I lose the care and attention of those around me."

Life area weight loss

  • "I have to give up everything I like."
  • "Being overweight is in my genes."
  • "I don't have enough stamina."
  • "My body is programmed to gain weight."

Life area restrictions

  • "I'm repulsive."
  • "I'm abnormal."
  • "I'm locked in my body."
  • "My limitation prevents me from living a successful and happy life."

And did you perhaps recognize yourself in one or the other belief system? This is already the first step. All of the above examples are unproductive and force you to remain in lethargy and self-pity. You should do something about that.

In the following we would like to give you some inspiration on how to positively transform the negative beliefs in positive beliefs you can rephrase.

Examples of positive beliefs

The following examples are the counterparts to the beliefs listed above. Try saying them out loud and listening to yourself. How does it feel?

Life area self-worth

  • "I'm good the way I am."
  • "I feel gratitude for everything I have."
  • "I'm a valuable person."
  • "My opinion carries weight."
  • "I deserve to be treated with respect and appreciation."

sphere of life Finances

  • "I've earned my wealth."
  • "I attract the money like a magnet."
  • "I own money, but my money does not own me."
  • "I'm successful."

Area of life love

  • "I deserve love."
  • "I am surrounded by love."
  • "I let love and harmony into my life."
  • "I am grateful to have found the man/woman of my dreams."
  • "I will find my dream man/woman."

Life area social environment

  • "I can integrate well."
  • "I meet people with an open mind."
  • "I am worthy of acceptance and acceptance."
  • "Social relationships enrich my life."
  • "I respect other people for who they are."

Health area of life

  • "I feel healthy and vital."
  • "My body wants to be healthy."
  • "With each breath I take in fresh life energy."
  • "I can actively influence my health through my lifestyle."

Life area weight loss

  • "I have it in my hands to reduce my excess weight."
  • "I'm doing something good for my body and my health."
  • "I treat my body with appreciation."
  • "Healthy eating and exercise are fun for me."
  • "My weight is leveling off at a healthy level."

Life area restrictions

  • "I am unique and special."
  • "I can live the life I want despite my limitations."
  • "I accept me as I am."

How can you actively change your beliefs?

Actively changing beliefs does not work half-heartedly. Since these are deeply rooted patterns of thought and behavior, perseverance is required. But it is worth it! You have it in your hand to change your Life self-determined and not let it be dictated to you by supposed limitations. Our expert also knows this Victoria Schretzmayer.

Now we would like to show you step by step how to dissolve the beliefs that stand in the way of your personal happiness in life.

1. recognize your beliefs

In order to be able to change something, you first have to name the disturbing factor concretely. Otherwise you are literally fighting against windmills. If you have read through the above examples in detail, you will certainly have recognized yourself in one or the other belief system.

Practice: It's best to write down all the negative beliefs that apply to you on a piece of paper. This way you have made tangible the areas you need to work on. Keep the sheet. Later on, you can cross out the negative beliefs and replace them with positive beliefs. But we are not quite there yet ...

2. find the origin of your beliefs

In the second step, you start researching the causes. If you know where your negative beliefs come from, you can better check them for their reality and, above all, for their topicality. A teacher at school told you that you were unathletic? Since then you have avoided any sporting challenge so as not to embarrass yourself?

Stop! Today you are an adult. Ask yourself how much importance you want to place on the insensitive comment of someone who hasn't played a role in your life for years. Do you really want to allow the hurt of yesteryear to limit you in your actions decades later? The answer is certainly no.

Beliefs that manifested in childhood are often long outdated. What prevents you from trying something today that you failed at yesterday? Realize that if you keep avoiding certain things because of your negative beliefs, you are denying yourself the chance for personal growth.

Tip: Fact-check your negative assumptions. The following questions can support you on your way:

  • Why do I (still) believe this assumption to be true?
  • What evidence / counter-evidence is there in the present?
  • What good does it do me to think this belief is the truth?
  • What do I want to feel instead?

3. transform your negative beliefs

You still have that piece of paper handy where you wrote down your negative beliefs? Wonderful. Then let's get to work on transforming those negative beliefs into positive ones. The most important thing about positive beliefs is that they sound authentic to you. Otherwise, they miss their mark.

Let's say you're suffering from visible hair loss, which is causing you a lot of psychological distress. Writing down a belief such as "I have beautiful, thick hair" feels like mockery at worst. It would make more sense to formulate the following beliefs:

  • "I'm attractive even with less hair."
  • "My self-worth is independent of my appearance."

Cross out the negative belief (e.g. "I am ugly") and write the positive wording above it. Preferably in a bright colour.

Tip: Often it is more effective not to rewrite the beliefs too radically. The latter can easily overwhelm you. Your psyche needs time to change to "positive". This technique is a branch of neurolinguistic programming (NLP for short). Increase step by step:

  • Exit sentence: I can't do this.
  • Transition: I can't do this yet.
  • Positive conviction: I can do this.

4. work with affirmations

Affirmations are self-affirming phrases that you say to yourself over and over again, either out loud or in your mind. Through constant repetition, the sentences imprint themselves as truth. This will permanently change your behavior and your feelings to the positive. In simple terms, an affirmation is the precursor to a positive belief.

Example: Do you suffer from shyness and would like to come out of your shell more? Then the following affirmations could help you:

  • I'm getting braver by the day.
  • I believe more every day in my ability to be communicative.

If you like, you can write down your personal affirmations on post-its and stick them in sight (e.g. on the edge of your computer screen). This way you will always be reminded.

5. create a vision board

A vision board, also known as a dream board or goal collage, helps you visualize your dreamed future. It is a collage of your own design on which you record your wishes and goals. You can choose to combine all your future dreams on a single vision board or create a separate collage for each area of your life. This is up to you.

It is important that you don't just tinker away, but proceed in a structured way: First of all, you need a sufficiently large piece of coloured cardboard or cardboard. Divide the future vision board into ten areas of life. It is best to use a pencil and ruler for this:

  • Profession and finances
  • Leisure and creativity
  • Family
  • Friendship
  • Love and partnership
  • Social activities (voluntary work etc.)
  • Holiday
  • Sport and health
  • Spirituality
  • House and apartment

Then divide the goals you want to achieve in the different areas of your life into time spans. What do you want to have achieved in one year, five years and ten years? Formulate your goals as clearly and realistically as possible.

Now you get to be creative: Look for visuals and encouraging sayings to bring your collage to life. It's been scientifically proven that images speak to us more emotionally than words. So be sure to find images that reflect your dreams as accurately as possible. Hang the finished vision board in plain sight, for example in your bedroom, living room or study.

6. keep the affirmations present

In the fourth step we have dedicated ourselves to the topic of positive affirmations. However, these are only effective if you keep them present. Often it is not enough to write them down on a piece of paper and read them through.

If you feel that the negative thoughts prevail, then say your affirmation to yourself loudly and clearly. To strengthen the effect, it is best to stand in front of a mirror and look yourself in the eye.

Another important factor is regularity. For example, how about incorporating your positive affirmations into a daily morning mantra meditation? It takes up to 30 days to internalize new habits. From there, it can help to set a fixed time for your affirmation training.

7. dissolve negative beliefs with professional coaching

Sometimes it takes a little outside support to dissolve entrenched beliefs. In this case, a professional Coaching help. The coach supports you in recognizing, questioning and reformulating obstructive beliefs. Various methods can be used, such as the "lying eight".

You can find more valuable tips on how to dissolve negative beliefs in the following lecture:

Transform negative beliefs

You now know what a great influence positive as well as negative beliefs can have on your entire life. But always be aware that ultimately only you decide what you believe in. It is possible to transform negative beliefs. Admittedly, this requires courage and perseverance on your part. However, it is worth taking the necessary steps.

As support on your way we recommend our coach training. Find out what really drives you, what your true goals are, and which Fears as well as beliefs blocking you. This kind of self-knowledge is elementary to let go of negative beliefs and replace them with positive ones. Only if you know where your goal lies, you can create the right conditions.



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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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