The Art of Belief Inversion
Episode #6 of the course How to become happier: A guide to reprogramming your thinking by John Robin
Welcome to the sixth day of our course on becoming happier.
Yesterday, we learned how to discern the faulty core beliefs beneath each of our five core needs. Today, we’re going to move from the negative to the positive as we learn a new, more powerful art of inversion.
Your Core Affirmations
Our ability to hone and discern our thoughts develops as we become adults.
The reason for this, according to neuroscience, lies in the development of the brain’s prefrontal cortex. It is the last part to fully mature, often by our mid to late 20s. At this stage, one becomes a fully actuated individual, capable of tapping into the full strength of higher willpower.
The prefrontal cortex endows us with the power to rise above faulty core beliefs. Instead of being trapped within our prison of thoughts, we can see past them. And we can, in fact, learn to see our way out of them.
This way out is similar to how we have thus far learned to turn our negative thoughts around. Except, in this case, we will do this with faulty core beliefs.
When we invert faulty core beliefs, we create new beliefs.
We call these new beliefs our core affirmations. And this leads to step 7 of our process:
Step 7: Invert your five faulty core beliefs to create your five core affirmations.
Let’s return to our list from yesterday to see how this works. Your faulty core beliefs were: “I’m no good”, “Something bad can happen anytime”, “I’m ugly”, “I can’t trust anyone”, “I always fuck up”.
Because beliefs are thoughts, this means we can apply the same technique we learned in thought inversion.
Recall this from lesson 1:
Catch a negative thought when it happens, then try to think of its opposite.
If we treat each of our faulty core beliefs as negative thoughts, then some opposites might be:
• I am valuable.
• I am safe.
• I am attractive.
• I am a good judge of character.
• I am confident.
The best core affirmations are statements of being (“I am …”). They are also in positive form. “I don’t feel ugly” means the same as “I am attractive” but it’s a negative statement. Hone your core affirmations until they are in positive form, and they are a statement about yourself having the quality lacking in your faulty core belief.
This might take some brainstorming. Be willing to fill up a page or two, and cross out candidates that don’t work.
Another way to approach this is to think about the structure of each affirmation as “I am …” statements that make you the kind of person who has each of your lacking core needs:
• I am [the kind of person who feels valued].
• I am [the kind of person who feels safe].
• I am [the kind of person who feels attractive].
• I am [the kind of person who feels trust].
• I am [the kind of person who feels confident].
This template is helpful for some of the faulty core beliefs that are hard to flip around.
For example, “I can’t trust anyone” is easier to invert if you think about a statement that effectively says, “I am the kind of person who feels trust” and then think about what that means.
If you just say, “I am trusting” that doesn’t address the problem because you don’t want to turn yourself into a doormat and deepen reasons not to trust people.
Instead, equip yourself with the quality that makes you feel like you can trust other people, such as being able to judge character. Being a good judge of character is excellent because this gets you thinking about both sides: being able to know when you actually can’t trust someone and being able to trust yourself when you believe someone is worthy of your trust.
What will also help is if you keep your list of faulty core beliefs handy. Understanding your lacking core need is also helpful if you consider the early life event that led you to create that faulty core belief.
If your belief that you can’t trust anyone came from being betrayed, then “I am a good judge of character” targets more specifically your fear that you can’t decide if others can be trusted. If it came instead from growing up in a war zone, then your lack of trust is much deeper, extending to the whole world and life itself. In that case, “I am secure in the world” would be a more adequate affirmation.
Inverting beliefs is much harder than inverting regular negative thoughts. For this reason, we will spend the rest of the course exploring how to reinforce them.
And tomorrow, we will dig into this by exploring just what happiness is.
Use today’s lesson to figure out your five core affirmations. You’ll need them for where tomorrow’s lesson is taking us!
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