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core beliefs and how to change them

Emotional Intelligence Coaching: What Are The Core Beliefs?

Welcome to the first part of the article series crafted by My Personal English Coach (MPEC), where we delve into the five key elements of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is a cornerstone of personal development and effective communication—crucial skills for thriving in both personal and professional spheres. In this series, we aim to explore each element in depth, starting with self-awareness.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is the bedrock of emotional intelligence; it’s about understanding our own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and the subtle influences that shape our thoughts and actions. By enhancing self-awareness, we can achieve greater clarity in our objectives, foster more meaningful relationships, and navigate the complexities of emotional landscapes with finesse.

The Journey Towards a Higher Level of Self Awareness

We cannot begin to develop our Emotional Intelligence without first pausing to analyse our most intimate thoughts: our core beliefs.

These foundational perspectives are so integrated into our psyche that we rarely question their origin.

They are like the software running in the background of our minds, dictating our responses to the countless challenges and opportunities of life.

Emotional Intelligence has 5 fundamental components. Our goal in this series of articles is to analyse each component in detail, helping you to deepen the results of your Soft Skills Training, Coaching, and Growth Paths that you are following with your coaches.

Core Beliefs: The Pillars of Self

Self-awareness coaching is an enlightening journey that starts by uncovering the tapestry of our inner thoughts: our core beliefs. These foundational perspectives are so integral to our psyche that we seldom question their origin. They are like the software running in the background of our minds, dictating our responses to life’s myriad challenges and opportunities.

At the heart of our mental framework lie core beliefs, or as some in the field of psychology might call them, schemas. These beliefs form a set of unshakeable convictions about our identity, the people around us, and the broader environment in which we exist. They are the silent sentinels that stand guard over our personal truths, often invisible to us but undeniably shaping the contours of our mental landscape.

Aaron Beck, a pioneering figure in cognitive psychology, first introduced the concept of schemas in the late 20th century, within the therapeutic approach known as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). These core beliefs are not surface-level thoughts that flit through our mind on a daily basis; rather, they are deep-rooted assertions that we regard as absolute truths. They are the lens through which we filter our experiences and the framework through which we integrate new information into our worldview.

When do they form?

Formed in the early throes of life, shaped and moulded by our upbringing and experiences, these core beliefs are buried so deep within our consciousness that altering them can be a formidable challenge.

Their function is foundational: to help us make sense of our formative experiences.

However, as we evolve, these beliefs can sometimes outlive their usefulness, becoming counterproductive or even damaging.

It’s imperative to understand and critically examine these beliefs because they profoundly influence how we see ourselves — whether we perceive ourselves as worthy, safe, competent, powerful, and loved.

When these core beliefs are negative, they can be destructive, undermining self-acceptance and self-esteem, and can skew our perception of the world and the events in our lives.

These deeply ingrained beliefs manifest in various ways, often emerging as absolutist statements like “I am…,” “People are…,” or “The world is…”. They spawn a cascade of supporting beliefs that reinforce these core views, creating a self-perpetuating cycle of thought that can be either positive or negative. For instance, the core belief “I am not good enough” can give rise to a supporting belief such as “People would not appreciate me if they knew the real me”. This might lead to a surface thought like “They don’t want me at the party,” resulting in avoidance behaviours that reinforce feelings of sadness, anxiety, and isolation.

Understanding the distinction between these deeply held beliefs and our fleeting daily thoughts is crucial. It allows us to navigate life with greater clarity and purpose. When our core beliefs are constructive, they act as a tailwind, propelling us forward without the need for constant scrutiny or revision. But when they are restrictive or negative, transforming them is essential for our emotional well-being and personal growth, as they are the roots from which our self-esteem blossoms.

What Will We Address Next?

In the subsequent sections of this article, we will explore the nuances that differentiate core beliefs from limiting beliefs.

We will examine the profound impact that these beliefs can have on adult learners mastering the English language.

We will look in particular at how positive core beliefs can facilitate language acquisition and enhance communication skills in a global context.

Why do we believe our beliefs ARE the essence of who WE ARE?

The neuroscience behind why we often feel that we are our core beliefs is as fascinating as it is complex. At its core, this phenomenon can be attributed to the intricate workings of our brain’s neural pathways, which are reinforced each time a related thought or action is undertaken.

When we repeatedly think in a certain way, the neural connections associated with those thoughts become stronger, a process known as synaptic plasticity. This is often summarised by the phrase ‘neurons that fire together, wire together‘. These reinforced pathways then influence our automatic responses to situations, effectively becoming our default mode of thinking.

As these pathways solidify over time, our core beliefs become so entrenched that they feel like an integral part of our very being. Moreover, our core beliefs are tied to our sense of identity, which is primarily housed in the prefrontal cortex—the area of the brain responsible for complex cognitive behaviour, personality expression, decision making, and moderating social behaviour.

This is also where we process congruence, or how aligned something is with our sense of self. When a belief resonates with this sense of self, it is more likely to be integrated into our core belief system.

Furthermore, the limbic system, which includes structures such as the amygdala and hippocampus, plays a key role in emotional regulation and the formation of memories. Core beliefs are often linked to significant emotional experiences and memories, giving them an emotional charge that can make them seem an inextricable part of who we are.

When these emotionally charged beliefs are triggered, they can elicit strong emotional responses, making them feel even more like a reflection of our self-identity. In addition, confirmation bias, a term coined by psychologist Peter Wason, is a cognitive bias that prompts us to seek and favour information that confirms our pre-existing beliefs and values. This tendency ensures that once a core belief is embedded in our neural architecture, we are more likely to notice and remember information that supports this belief, further entrenching it in our psyche.

The combination of these neurological processes explains why we often equate our core beliefs with our identity. They are not just thoughts; they are the mental and emotional constructs that have been reinforced throughout our lives, shaping our self-perception and how we interact with the world. Understanding this neural foundation can be empowering, as it also means that with deliberate effort and consistent practice, we can rewire our brains to adopt new, more adaptive core beliefs, transforming our outlook on life and our sense of self.

Core Beliefs vs Limiting Beliefs: What is the Difference?

Core beliefs and limiting beliefs are intertwined concepts, yet they differ in significant ways. Core beliefs are our most fundamental perceptions of ourselves and our environment. They are the axioms of our inner dialogue, the presuppositions that underpin our understanding of the world. These beliefs can be both positive and negative, with the potential to either foster growth or hinder it.

Limiting beliefs, on the other hand, are a subset of core beliefs. These are the negative convictions that constrain us, the inner scripts that tell us we can’t achieve, we’re not good enough, or the world is against us. While all limiting beliefs are core beliefs, not all core beliefs are limiting. The key to self-improvement often lies in distinguishing between the two, retaining the core beliefs that serve us and transforming the limiting beliefs that hold us back.

Looking for some practice? A self – coaching exercise

Video Answer To Self Awareness FAQ

  1. What Are Core Beliefs?
  2. How do they form?
  3. Are they both positive and negative?
  4. Why are they so powerful?

How Can Core Beliefs Influence My Language Learning—For English Learners

When it comes to language learning, particularly for adults striving to master English, core beliefs play a pivotal role. A positive core belief such as ‘I am capable of learning and using a new language successfully’ can fuel motivation, enhance resilience, and encourage the embrace of new opportunities for practice and learning. Conversely, a limiting belief such as ‘I am too old to learn English’ can stifle progress, leading to a self-fulfilling prophecy where the belief itself hampers the acquisition of the new language.

To become a successful language learner, it’s crucial to cultivate a growth mindset, where core beliefs align with the notion of continuous improvement and the understanding that proficiency comes through practice and persistence. By consciously addressing and reshaping limiting beliefs, adult learners can open themselves up to a world of linguistic possibilities, breaking down barriers to fluency and embracing their bilingual identity with confidence and vigour.

In sum, self-awareness coaching not only aids in identifying and altering limiting beliefs but also fosters an environment where positive core beliefs can flourish, significantly impacting both personal development and language acquisition for adult English students.

Bibliography and Scientific Base of Our Approach

Self-Awareness and Core/Limiting Beliefs Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Introduced by Aaron Beck, this theory suggests that our thoughts (including core and limiting beliefs) directly influence our feelings and behaviors.

Neuroplasticity: Studies, such as those presented by Doidge (2007) in his book “The Brain That Changes Itself,” highlight how our experiences and thoughts can alter the structure and functioning of the brain.

Schema Therapy: Developed by Jeffrey Young, this extension of CBT aims to identify and restructure deeply ingrained thought patterns or ‘schemas’, which are often at the root of limiting beliefs.

Emotional Intelligence Mayer and Salovey’s Model (1990): They define emotional intelligence through four main abilities: perceiving emotions, using them to facilitate thinking, understanding emotions, and regulating emotions.

Emotional Intelligence: This book by Daniel Goleman (1995) popularized the concept of emotional intelligence to the general public, emphasizing its impact on leadership, success, and personal well-being.

Adult Language Learning Critical Period Hypothesis: Studies like those by Lenneberg (1967) suggest that there is a temporal window for optimal language learning, but subsequent research indicates that adults can still effectively learn a second language through appropriate strategies and motivations.

Bandura’s Social Learning Theory (1977): Emphasizes the importance of modeling, imitation, and observation in learning, including the acquisition of new languages.

Affective Factors in Language Learning: The study by Gardner and Lambert (1972) on motivational orientation highlights how attitudes and motivations significantly influence language learning in adults.

These concepts and studies provide a solid scientific foundation that supports the importance of self-awareness, core versus limiting beliefs, emotional intelligence, and language learning strategies. Understanding and applying these theories can effectively guide self-improvement and the development of communicative competences.

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