– Situation: you planned a meeting with one of your friends and in the last moment that person called to cancel it because something came up;
– Internal monologue: “What? I cleared up my schedule so we can meet and this is how she treats me? We barely talk lately and I was really looking forward for this meeting. She probably doesn’t care about me enough. If she cared enough, she would have been able to find a way. So many years of friendship wasted! I’m not going to talk to her even again!”;
– Emotions: anger, sadness, disappointment, a sense of loss.
[…] There is this “Nobody cares about me” core belief that the person has and it acts as a filter. When some parts of the situation matched the filter, they passed through while others were ignored (the rescheduling part and the multiple apologizes). Another core belief might be in standby (“I have to be liked by everybody.”). Now the internal monologue happens and the emotions are triggered by it. There are negative emotions because there is a conflict between two core beliefs. The amygdala is activated to process those emotions so it takes over our brain and since the situation is a threat to the second core belief (the “rejection” is a sign that somebody doesn’t like this person), the fight or flight mode is activated and this person’s body is getting prepared for combat or for running. Of course, this is just a theory.
Once the hijacking took place, it’s very hard to do something about it so we need to do something at the beginning of this hijacking. In his book The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights (2014), Daniel Goleman recommends we should tell ourselves that we’re overreacting when we’re noticing those feelings taking over. This is used to stop the related thoughts to come. Mel Robbins proposes a similar strategy. Even though her 5 second rule is mainly created as a strategy to make ourselves move our asses towards doing the things we need to do, we can use it to stop the negative thought-flow. I usually go further and I’m trying to find alternative scenarios for the behavior someone has. Here is a conversation I have with myself whenever I encounter similar situations. This usually happens within my head or out loud if I’m alone (I wear headphones most of the time in public in case some words try to escape my mouth. At least, people would think I’m talking to someone else, not to myself). The conversation is between A.T. (automatic thought) and C.T. (counter thought).
A.T.: What? I cleared up my schedule so we can meet and this is how she treats me? We barely talk lately and I was really looking forward for this meeting. She probably doesn’t care about me enough. If she cared enough, she would have been able to find a way. So many years of friendship wasted! I’m not going to talk to her even again!
C.T.: Ok, hold on for a second. Don’t get so grilled up like a chicken breast. Maybe there are other explanations. What else can it be besides this?
A.T.: I don’t know. This is obviously the case. I know it!
C.T.: What proof do you have?
A.T.: You’re such a stupid inner voice, you know that? We used to be great friends and since we haven’t seen each other in a while, this was the perfect moment. The fact that she cancelled the meeting is a clear sign. She didn’t even tell me the reason. She only said that she has something to do.
C.T.: She didn’t cancel the meeting, she tried to reschedule it. Isn’t this a sign that she cares?
A.T.: Maybe, but why did she say nothing about the reason she is cancelling this meeting?
C.T.: She didn’t cancel. She rescheduled. Maybe she didn’t say anything about the reason because she has some problems she is ashamed with.
A.T.: We used to tell each other everything. This is a clear sign that she doesn’t care about me anymore. She is not considering me as a friend since she avoids telling me the reason.
C.T.: Maybe it’s a sign that she doesn’t want you to worry because she cares about you. Or maybe it’s a sign that despite the fact she has big problems, she still wants for you two to meet up and that’s why she tried to reschedule. She wants to be in her best condition so she could enjoy your meeting.
A.T.: I don’t think so. You have no proof for this.
C.T.: Neither do you. It’s as valid as your theory. Actually, these are only theories. She knows the actual truth.
A.T.: Your theory is wrong and mine is right. I feel it.
C.T.: So you’re a mind reader, right? Were there any moments before when you felt you were right and it was proven that you were wrong?
A.T.: Yes, but this is different.
C.T.: Yes, it is different, but this isn’t a proof for you to be right.
A.T.: Neither for you.
C.T.: True. We only have hypothesis and we don’t have enough info to decide which is wrong and which is right. There might be things involved we are not even aware of. Let’s reschedule the meeting and gather more info.
*Passage from my book -> Fighting the Inside Dragons* (You can find it here on Kindle and Paperback)
How do you differentiate between the thoughts created by your own core beliefs and the thoughts created by outside information?
23 thoughts on “A Core Belief in action”
I recently participated in a group therapy session like this, where we named our automatic thoughts, or inner dialogue, in order to address it and converse with it. I called mine The Bully because it regularly puts me down and convinces me that nobody really takes me seriously. Then they taught us how to respond to our inner dialogues, which I guess is the same as your counter thoughts. Sounds like much the same thing as is in your book.
Yes, that’s exactly what it is! How helpful is that for you?
Very helpful so far. I haven’t had a major depressive incident due to my self esteem issues since August.
Awesome! Keep it up! 🙂
Its indeed true. Our inner voice should be pure, without any past influences and we should make our mind to think every possible situation not just what is most obvious
The thing is that most of the time is not pure and we take it for granted. We get influenced by it and sometimes we get put down unable to move because of that inner voice. That’s harmful…
I love this! It applies to most of us, in many situations! Thank you!😊
Thank you for reading! 🙂
Hey, this is good stuff. I love the way you wrote out the whole dialogue. 🙂
I love that you love it! Writing the whole thing (book) was a hell of a ride for me 🙂
Or just say; Fuck you
I do that. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always work…
Very rarely do I allow the negative Monkey Mind to run My Show. Personally I think the most beneficial thing we can do for Our Self…is to thank the negative internal dialogue for showing up…it shows us where it is least beneficial to go, and give us the ability to choose to redirect our thinking to more positive avenues of awareness.
That could be a strategy. Do you think that ignoring the negative talk is a good long term strategy?
LOL! OH… there is no ignoring it….Looking at it face on and thanking it for showing up and showing you where it is counterproductive and/or painful to go is a rather powerful thing. I talk with my negative talk…..I allow it to rant….and then I gently guide it back to a place where I am more able to use it as a map as I move and interact with my Life. Hope all is Well and you are Well!
That’s great! 😀