Identify core beliefs

12 Worksheets to Challenge Negative Beliefs

What are core beliefs, and why do they matter?

Core beliefs are our most deeply held assumptions about ourselves, the world, and others.

They are firmly embedded in our thinking and significantly shape our reality and behaviors.

In fact, nothing matters more than our core beliefs. They are the root causes of many of our problems, including our automatic negative thoughts.

Yet, core beliefs are precisely that: beliefs. Based on childhood assessments, they are often untrue. They are also self-perpetuating. Like magnets, they attract evidence that makes them stronger, and they repel anything that might challenge them. But it is possible to change them.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Meaning and Valued Living Exercises for free. These creative, science-based exercises will help you learn more about your values, motivations, and goals and will give you the tools to inspire a sense of meaning in the lives of your clients, students, or employees.

This Article Contains:

  • Common Examples of Core Beliefs
  • Top 2 Core Beliefs Worksheets
  • 4 Ways to Identify Core Beliefs
  • Dealing With Negative Beliefs: 4 Sheets
  • Comprehensive List of Core Beliefs
  • Meaning and Valued Living Tools
  • A Take-Home Message
  • References

Common Examples of Core Beliefs

Core beliefs were first theorized in the context of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). They are also known as schemas, which shape how we process and interpret new information (Beck, 1979; Beck, Freeman, & Davis, 2015; Beck, 2005; Beck, 2011).

Aaron Beck (1979) outlined three interrelated levels of cognition:

  • Core beliefs
  • Dysfunctional assumptions
  • Negative automatic thoughts

We can think of our automatic negative thoughts as the situational expressions of our dysfunctional assumptions and negative core beliefs.

Core beliefs are formed early in life and shaped by our upbringing and experiences. Because they are so deep seated and embedded, they are very difficult to change. Their original function is to help us make sense of our formative experiences, but they can become unproductive or even harmful later in life (Osmo et al., 2018).

Harmful common core beliefs usually come in the form of absolutist “I am …,” “People are …,” and “The world is …” statements.

  • We may think that we are bad, evil, losers, not good enough, incompetent, ugly, stupid, rotten at our core, unworthy, undeserving, abnormal, boring, existentially flawed, or unlovable.
  • We may believe that people are bad, not to be trusted, exploitative, or manipulative.
  • Finally, we may deem the world a dangerous place – unsafe or hostile enemy territory that has only bad things in store for us.

Judith Beck (2005, 2011) proposes three main categories of negative core beliefs about the self:

  • Helplessness
  • Unlovability
  • Worthlessness

The beliefs that fall into the helplessness category are related to personal incompetence, vulnerability, and inferiority. Unlovability-related core beliefs include the fear that we are not likable and incapable of intimacy, while worthlessness-themed core beliefs include the belief that we are insignificant and a burden to others.

If we have negative views of others, we may think of them as untrustworthy, as wishing to hurt us, or as demeaning, uncaring, or manipulative. All of these beliefs may make us very anxious to avoid rejection and overly keen to seek validation from others (Osmo et al., 2018).

If our core beliefs are positive and helpful, we need to take no further action. If they are not, we must seek to transform them because core beliefs that are limiting are the root causes of low self-esteem. They shape how we treat ourselves, others, and even how others may treat us. They set the rules by which we live and the tone of our self-talk.

When our experiences do not align with our core beliefs, our minds – always set on avoiding cognitive dissonance – will twist them until they do.

Top 2 Core Beliefs Worksheets

A good starting point for exploring your clients’ core beliefs is this Core Beliefs CBT Formulation. It follows standard CBT methods and steps, asking us to analyze a situation, a thought, and a resulting feeling, and then to identify the underlying themes behind our recurring thoughts and feelings.

If we can detect patterns in our recurring negative thoughts, they may lead us to the core beliefs that are producing them. As a third step, we are invited to outline core strategies for dealing with these beliefs. The final part of this process involves some existential detective work to determine which significant childhood events may have shaped our core beliefs.

This Core Beliefs Worksheet is another useful starting point for core belief work with clients. A simple and accessible awareness-raising tool, the worksheet prompts us to complete three statements: “I am …,” “Other people are …,” and “The world is …

Clients are invited to explore when they first became aware of these beliefs, which experiences contributed to shaping them, and who in their family may hold similar opinions. Next, clients are asked to reflect on whether these beliefs still serve them. If the answer is no, we can begin to help them formulate and cultivate alternative views.

4 Ways to Identify Core Beliefs

Our negative core beliefs drive our dysfunctional immediate beliefs in the forms of attitudes and rules.

If we believe we are unlovable, for example, this could translate into rules such as “I must be thin, because only then would I become lovable.”

Or we may think we have to be rich, or always agreeable, or overly helpful, or constantly self-deprecating, or that we must never say no to anyone to be worthy of other people’s love.

  1. Because our automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) are the spawns of our core beliefs, we can use them as guides to trace our underlying core beliefs. The best way to identify negative core beliefs is, therefore, to look at our recurring ANTs and try to detect patterns and themes. We can begin by looking for patterns in our experiences and also in our interpretations of these experiences.
  2. Vertical Arrow/Downward Arrow/Vertical Descent techniques use Socratic questioning to help uncover clients’ intermediate-level and core beliefs. Their purpose is to uncover the deeper origins of surface cognitions. The idea is to follow thoughts down to the underlying assumptions that produce them, like peeling away the layers of an onion.
  3. The Core Beliefs Worksheet 2 hones in on negative core beliefs about ourselves. These beliefs tend to revolve around the themes of helplessness, unlovability, and worthlessness. It lists the most common beliefs in each category and asks clients to identify the ones that apply to them.
  4. Finally, we can also have a closer look at our rules (or common beliefs). The Cataloging Your Inner Rules worksheet is a handy tool. It encourages us to identify and challenge harmful rules, and to think about alternative rules going forward.

Dealing With Negative Beliefs: 4 Sheets

There are various strategies for dealing with negative beliefs.

The first is merely becoming more aware of our negative cognitions.

The second is understanding where they came from. When did we first think about ourselves, the world, or others in a particular way? Which experiences contributed to shaping these beliefs? Who in our family may hold similar opinions?

The third step entails challenging these beliefs. This includes a deliberate attempt at cognitive restructuring, identifying the cognitive distortions that are at work in our ANTs, and patiently amassing evidence that contradicts our beliefs until we can accept that they no longer serve us and let them go (Burns, 1980).

ANTs have been graced with much empirical and clinical attention, significantly more so than negative core beliefs, despite their crucial importance (David, Lynn, & Ellis, 2010). But given that ANTs can be the guides that lead us to our negative core beliefs, it is a great idea to use them as a starting point for identifying and then dealing with our more deep-seated negative beliefs.

This article on Challenging Automatic Thoughts is a rich resource for worksheets on ANTs.

The following four worksheets are particularly helpful tools for challenging negative beliefs:

  1. The Unhelpful Thinking Styles worksheet encourages us to become more aware of our negative thoughts and unproductive beliefs and to identify common patterns of bias in our cognitions, especially those that are common in people suffering from depression. It includes a helpful list of classic cognitive distortions.
  2. Disputing Irrational Beliefs is also very valid in our context. It hones in on how our beliefs and thoughts influence our feelings and behaviors, inviting us to question whether our view of reality is working for or against us.
  3. The Disputing Irrational Beliefs Handout invites clients to develop a more rational approach to thinking. They are invited to think of one self-defeating irrational belief that they would like to dispute and defuse, then spend 10-15 minutes challenging by answering the questions.
  4. The Downward Arrow Core Belief Technique, finally, can help you or your clients apply the Socratic questioning method to identify problematic core beliefs, as discussed earlier. It is designed to help the user unearth deeply-held and harmful beliefs by working backward from situations that bring up negative emotions.

Comprehensive List of Core Beliefs

This Table of Common Core Beliefs presents a reasonably comprehensive list of negative core beliefs. It is particularly useful because it presents these as specific rather than abstract beliefs and can also be used as a checklist.

Examples include:

  • I need to ‘earn’ happiness.
  • I need to control my environment to manage my feelings.
  • The world is a dangerous place.
  • Even my best efforts are not good enough.
  • Once someone knows me, they’ll lose interest.

It is a great accompaniment to our Negative Thoughts Checklist if you or a client are looking to tackle recurring negative thoughts.

Meaning and Valued Living Tools

A different approach to the mainly CBT-based methods discussed above involves interventions that focus on positive counterpoints to negative core beliefs.

As Viktor Frankl wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning (2004, p. 84):

“He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.”

At the heart of Frankl’s (2004, p. 104) logotherapy approach lies the idea that we need to break with our “typical self-centeredness” and reorient ourselves toward the meaning of our lives. A focus on meaning that is located outside ourselves – be that in the form of creativity, service, or relationships – will help us to overcome our psychological struggles more powerfully than problem-focused methods.

The true meaning of life, Frankl writes, is to be discovered in the world rather than within our own psyches.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), too, focuses less on changing our negative cognitions and beliefs but recommends instead that we accept them and then try to let them go (Hayes, Strosahl, & Wilson, 1999). Here is a resource filled with ACT worksheets and exercises.

Russ Harris, the author of The Happiness Trap (2007), argues that we have far less control over our thoughts and feelings than we like to think. He challenges CBT’s assertion that we must reason ourselves out of unwanted states of mind.

Willpower, he argues, is a limited resource. It is, therefore, better to manage our condition than to expend all our energy on trying to avoid or change bad thoughts. Instead, we should simply observe and accept them and then try to let them go.

Harris (2007) suggests that our counterproductive control strategies are our core problem. Our attempts to curb negative thinking or change unproductive core beliefs take up vast amounts of time and energy and are usually ineffective in the long run. He proposes we completely stop trying to control our thoughts and beliefs, refrain from labeling them as good or bad, and aim for a value-led and action-driven approach to life.

What would such an approach look like in practice? We may, for example, practice thinking “Thank you, mind” whenever it bombards us with unhelpful thoughts and not take the content of those thoughts too seriously.

We may want to remind ourselves that our thoughts are just words and opinions and that our beliefs are just that. They are nothing more than the noise of our endlessly chattering minds. You can access the complete worksheets from Harris’s The Happiness Trap (2007) on the book’s website.

The history, theory, and practice of value- and meaning-based interventions are explained in Dr. Hugo Albert’s hugely inspiring Meaning and Valued Living Masterclass. Various exercises in the Toolkit encourage us to hone value-based living and seek meaning that is located outside the self.

The Self-Eulogy exercise, for example, helps us to clarify our values and how we can use them as guides that shape our behaviors and decisions. Knowing our values helps us to live more fulfilling and more prosperous lives.

Imagining our own funeral service and what we would like people to say about us can be a powerfully clarifying exercise. It also demonstrates how much we are already living in accordance with our values, or which steps we might have to take to live more fully in line with them.

The Values Diagram seeks to create awareness of a possible gap between our behavior and our values. It uses visual tools to illustrate this discrepancy and is a very effective intervention that steers us to more value-driven behavior.

It asks us to divide a circle into slices that represent the time we spend on different elements and areas of our lives. In a second step, we are invited to create a circle that is sliced up in an ideal way, showing how and with whom we would actually like to spend our time.

If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others discover meaning, this collection contains 17 validated meaning tools for practitioners. Use them to help others choose directions for their lives in alignment with what is truly important to them.

A Take-Home Message

Nothing seems more urgent than working on our core beliefs if they prevent us from thriving in our lives. They are the root cause of most of our psychological problems, determining our self-image, cognitions, beliefs about the world and others, and personal rules. They make us see everything through a glass darkly. They also generate and shape our automatic negative thoughts.

To transform our core beliefs, we can try cognitive restructuring methods to train our minds to embrace more productive attitudes. We can venture into our pasts to unearth their origins and use patterns in our experiences and our interpretations as guides for uncovering their all-pervasive influence.

We can also try to manage them by using second-wave positive psychology approaches, such as ACT-based interventions. These approaches seek to shift our focus away from problematic cognitions to value, meaning, and positive action taking. Rather than trying to correct negative core beliefs, they ask us to accept them and to be mindful of the fact that they are mere opinions.

Like fake news, however, harmful core beliefs are very difficult to control and eradicate and have the power to cause much long-term damage. Whether we may wish to activate a constant inner fact-checker, tasked with assessing the integrity of our cognitions, or instead decide to acknowledge but then to let them go depends on our therapeutic preferences.

The former approach takes the content of our own core beliefs seriously and tries to provide rational counterarguments to disempower them. The latter does not grace their exact content with too much attention. The hope is that by recognizing and labeling our unhelpful core beliefs as the ‘fake news’ of our psyches, they will lose most of their power and influence.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Meaning and Valued Living Exercises for free.

  • Beck, A. T. (1979). Cognitive therapy and the emotional disorders. Meridian.
  • Beck, A. T., Freeman, A., & Davis, D. (2015). Cognitive therapy of personality disorders (3rd ed.). Guilford Press.
  • Beck, J. S. (2005). Cognitive therapy for challenging problems: What to do when the basics don’t work. Guilford Press.
  • Beck, J. S. (2011). Cognitive behavior therapy: Basics and beyond (2nd ed.). Guilford Press.
  • Burns, D. D. (1980). Feeling good: The new mood therapy. New American Library.
  • David, D., Lynn, S., & Ellis, A. (Eds.). (2010). Rational and irrational beliefs: Research, theory, and clinical practice. Oxford University Press.
  • Frankl, V. E. (2004) Man’s search for meaning: The classic tribute to hope from the Holocaust. Rider.
  • Hayes, S. C., Strosahl, K., & Wilson, K. G. (1999). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: An experiential approach to behavior change.  Guilford Press.
  • Harris, R. (2007). The happiness trap. Based on ACT: A revolutionary mindfulness-based program for overcoming stress, anxiety, and depression. Robinson.
  • Osmo, F., Duran, V., Wenzel, A., de Oliveira, I. R., Nepomuceno, S., Madeira, M., & Menezes, I. (2018). The negative core beliefs inventory: Development and psychometric properties. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy32(1), 67–84.

Definition, how to identify, and more

Core beliefs are deeply held beliefs that inform how people see themselves and the world. They have a large influence on people’s perceptions and decision making.

Core beliefs can be helpful, unhelpful, or neutral. Unhelpful or unrealistic core beliefs may negatively affect a person’s mental health and overall life satisfaction.

However, because core beliefs form such a large part of a person’s worldview, a person may find it difficult to identify them. It also takes time and effort to change core beliefs.

The notion of core beliefs is central to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Aaron Temkin Beck, whose cognitive theory informed CBT, argued that a person’s core beliefs help govern their interactions with the world, their response to stress, and their relationships.

Read on to learn more about core beliefs.

Core beliefs are strong beliefs a person holds consistently over time that inform their worldview and self-perception. These beliefs function as unstated rules for how the world works and a person’s role within it.

These beliefs tend to be rigid and inflexible, and they are not necessarily reasonable, accurate, or based on evidence. For example, a person might see themself as fundamentally unlikable even though they have friends.

Core beliefs also include a person’s views of others, such as the belief that humans are mostly good or mostly bad.

A person can have core beliefs that are inconsistent with one another. This can create cognitive dissonance, which is when a person’s actions do not fit with their beliefs or when they believe in two contradictory ideas.

Any deep belief that is fundamental to a person’s interactions with the world or their sense of self is a core belief. Core beliefs can be positive, negative, or neutral. Here are some examples:

  • Beliefs about goodness: a person’s belief that they are good or bad or that other people are mostly good or bad
  • Beliefs about likability: beliefs such as “I am unlovable” and “I am likable”
  • Beliefs about the world: beliefs such as “The world is a dangerous place” and “the world is fundamentally unfair”
  • Beliefs about competence: beliefs such as “I am intelligent and resourceful” and “I will succeed if I try hard”

Core beliefs develop in response to a person’s experiences. They begin developing in early childhood and continue developing over time.

As a child grows up, they try to make sense of what is happening around them or to them. In trying to find meaning or learn from this, they develop a set of beliefs.

However, because core beliefs start to develop so early, they are not always based on balanced or informed opinions. People can unknowingly absorb messages from family, friends, teachers, and the media, and those messages may influence their worldview in positive or negative ways.

Some strategies for identifying core beliefs include:

  • Noticing thoughts: Pay attention to automatic thoughts. These are the thoughts a person often does not notice. By becoming more aware of them, a person can start to note any consistent themes or patterns.
  • Keeping a diary: It can help to keep a diary for several weeks to record thoughts and feelings. Focus on times of intense emotion or stress, such as following a fight with a loved one, and write down what thoughts it sparked. After some time, review the diary to look for patterns. For example, a person might repeatedly have fears of being late.
  • Asking questions: Once a person notices a pattern in their thoughts, they can start to explore the core beliefs that underlie the thoughts. For example, a person who worries about being late might consider what happens if they are late, what it means about them, or why it matters. This could help them realize that they believe they must be perfect and that this matters because if they are not perfect, they are not likable.
  • Considering the evidence: Consider what beliefs a person has without evidence. If a person finds they cannot change a belief despite having strong evidence that contradicts it, it is probably a core belief. Thoughts that are the most difficult to change or challenge often link to core beliefs.

Many therapists offer core beliefs worksheets or inventories that people can use to review common core beliefs and assess which ones they hold.

Core beliefs play an important role in CBT. This type of psychotherapy focuses on helping a person identify the connection among their thoughts, feelings, and behavior.

CBT therapists encourage their clients to identify unhelpful automatic thoughts. Once a person understands the role of these thoughts in their emotional pain, they can work to adjust and replace these thoughts with ones that are more reasonable, balanced, and accurate.

Core beliefs can have a significant impact on any aspect of a person’s life. As such, anyone experiencing difficulty can speak with a therapist, whether they have a mental health condition or not.

For example, a person who believes they are unlovable may be less willing to date, and this may cause them to miss opportunities to meet a romantic partner. Similarly, a person who sees other people as untrustworthy may see negative intentions where none exist.

Core beliefs can also affect personality. For example, a 2022 study of young adults found that participants who displayed more greed were also more likely to hold negative core beliefs, such as that they were unlovable. This suggests that greed might be a misdirected attempt to find love or approval through material wealth.

A therapist may help a person work through these obstacles so they can feel fulfilled.

Core beliefs are strong, long-term beliefs a person has that help them understand how the world works and who they are. These beliefs begin forming in early childhood and influence a person’s personality, decision making, and mental health.

These beliefs act as rules for managing relationships and daily life. People use them to set expectations and react in stressful situations. However, they are not always balanced or accurate.

When core beliefs are unhelpful, they may lead to harmful behavior. This can undermine a person’s well-being. Therapy, such as CBT, may help a person identify and question their core beliefs and eventually replace those beliefs with more reasonable alternatives.

Human Beliefs - Human Psychology

Each of our strongest convictions can be overturned, or at any rate changed by further advances in knowledge.
Thomas Henry Huxley

Have you, dear readers, paid attention to how much our life depends on the beliefs that we consciously or unconsciously adhere to? After all, we very rarely look or at least try to look objectively at various events in our lives. In the vast majority of cases, we pass these events through the filter of our beliefs and thus distort them. And these distortions can negatively affect our perception of reality and our decision-making. At the same time, most of our beliefs came to us from somewhere and from someone. They were planted in us. And only a small part of them is based on our own life experience. But even so, we must understand that our experience reflects only a small part of what happens in life. Therefore, you should not always trust your beliefs, no matter what they are based on.

Thus, beliefs, like everything else, have their good and bad sides. We have to deal with both. And this means that the benefits of beliefs must either cover the harm they cause, or you need to be able to completely abandon those of your beliefs that do not meet our interests, or to review and rethink them. We will talk about how this can be done in this article.

Beliefs are

First, let's find out what exactly we are talking about when we talk about beliefs. Beliefs are a stable system of views of a person, which is based on his knowledge, life experience, faith, attitude towards anything, desires and ideas. In a deeper sense, a person's beliefs are his picture of the world, which he accepts and adheres to. By beliefs we can also understand a person's basic ideas about the world, about life, about other people and about himself. With the help of his beliefs, a person orients himself in this world and makes decisions. If his beliefs are for the most part true, adequate to reality, then his decisions will be mostly effective. If the beliefs are wrong, then a person will make many mistakes in life. But no matter how correct a person's beliefs are, they have one serious drawback - they are for the most part static, therefore they are beliefs, and not living thinking, which is always in search of something new. In this sense, thinking differs from beliefs - it is more effective in solving some problems and tasks, as it allows you to find a new approach to them. Life does not stand still, and the world is not fully known, so it is extremely naive to believe that you know and understand everything, adhering to certain beliefs.

On the other hand, one cannot do without beliefs based, among other things, on faith. We cannot constantly question everything and each time take a fresh approach to issues and cases already known to us. We do not have enough mental or time resources for this. Therefore, we need to rely on the knowledge and beliefs that we have in the form of beliefs that allow us to quickly orient ourselves in this or that situation and understand how we need to act in order to solve the task or problem we face. Thus, our beliefs are a map with which we can move from one point to another, making certain decisions. This map does not reflect reality as it really is. It presents us with only a simplified model of it, which is only as accurate as our beliefs are reasonable. And the reasonableness of our beliefs largely depends on how well we are aware of them. Think about what exactly your beliefs are based on? What [tested] knowledge, beliefs, experience, values, etc. underlie them? How often do you think about the quality of your beliefs? How well do they help you achieve your goals in life? There may be many such questions. With their help, you can understand how accurate your model of the world is and, therefore, useful to you. It is largely based on your moderately conscious beliefs.

Are our beliefs always conscious, deliberate, and useful to us? Of course no. Most of the beliefs that people hold are based on their blind faith in something. We believe in some things not because they are reasonable, adequate to reality and useful to us, but because we are simply used to them and we like them. Here's a simple example for you. We want, for example, to believe in life after death, which is arranged in a certain way [life in paradise], and we believe in this life. Because we want to believe in it, we like it, we are so comfortable. And at the same time, we also believe that we need to adhere to a certain behavior in order to find this life later, after death. Therefore, we believe [some of us] that there is right and wrong conduct, the rightness and wrongness of which does not depend on its effectiveness, but on its compliance with those requirements, meeting which we can gain life in paradise after we die. That is, it turns out that the goal in which we believe determines our behavior in the present. But at the same time, this behavior of ours in the present may not meet our current interests. So think about how such beliefs, which are expressed in a person's striving for obscure distant goals, to the detriment of closer and tangible goals, can be considered conscious and reasonable. Meanwhile, many people evaluate their behavior in this way. They compare it with the standard of behavior that they have in their head, on which, as they believe, the quality of both their current life and the possible subsequent life after death depends. In other words, they determine the correctness or incorrectness of their behavior not by the results that they get here and now thanks to it, but by what they believe in. I gave you just one example of beliefs that are rather questionable in their rationality, probably the most striking, given the number of people who perceive religion in a traditional way. In fact, there are many more such examples. After all, all people believe in something, know something, experienced something. And everything that they believe in, that they know, that they saw, heard, experienced, forms the basis of their beliefs, which will not necessarily be conscious, deliberate and useful. But on the other hand, they will be quite durable, because people really appreciate what they consider their own.

Some of our beliefs may be illogical, but at the same time very stable, thanks to public opinion. It is of great importance to many people. Suppose a person can hold the belief that lying is bad, sinful. And he may not be interested in a different point of view on this issue. Even if you point out to him that he himself often lies and that sometimes his lies are necessary, you can’t do without him in this life, he can still remain with his opinion. That is, his conviction regarding lies will remain unshakable. Why? Because this belief is an integral part of his picture of the world. His whole life is based, among other things, on this belief. Many of the decisions he once made and is taking now are based in one way or another on this conviction. Do you think it is easy for a person to give up all this, especially if he has lived with this belief for most of his life? Probably not. If he refuses it, then he will have to reconsider many of his other views on many other issues that are somehow connected with this belief of his. He and his experience will have to rethink and reconsider his views on many decisions that he made, based on his conviction. Can you imagine what kind of work it is? And what discomfort from understanding that you have been mistaken for so long, considering the truth that which is not it. And with all this a person needs to cope. For if, having changed his belief, he does not begin to put things in order in his head, he will simply lose his peace, he will be tormented by such thoughts that, both on a conscious and unconscious level, will begin to conflict with his new beliefs. Therefore, many people prefer to stay with their old beliefs so as not to leave their comfort zone and not do difficult mental work.

There is another point - our Ego. We somehow don’t really like to admit that we were mistaken in something, didn’t understand something, didn’t know something. It lowers our self-esteem, undermines our credibility in our own eyes, and feeds our uncertainty when making decisions in the future. This is especially difficult for people with a depressed psyche, because there is so much negativity inside them that needs to be balanced with good thoughts about oneself in order not to fall into depression. Therefore, it is very difficult to admit one's mistakes and delusions in such a state. And that is why many people resist everything that does not fit into their supposedly ideal picture of the world, in which they see themselves as very smart, good, correct, adequate and not making mistakes people.

Now imagine how difficult it is for the same psychologist to induce a person [client, patient] to think about his beliefs, understand how they are related to the problems he wants to solve and begin to make the necessary volitional efforts to change wrong beliefs for more constructive. Sometimes it's like trying to break through a concrete wall with your forehead. But psychologists manage to do this when they show perseverance and ingenuity. In such cases, working from a textbook is not always possible, you have to improvise a lot in order to find a way to the mind of the client.

So you see how much a person's beliefs mean to him. It's not just the things we know and believe in - it's an essential part of our personality and our lives.

The meaning of belief

The meaning of any belief is to make life easier for us. You and I can philosophize for a long time about any basic statement that exists in this world, we can turn everything upside down, question, distort, refute, prove the opposite, thanks to our thinking. But we have no time, and someone does not really want to do this. Therefore, a lot has to be taken on faith and agree with those truths that only look like the truth, but in fact they are not. This makes life easier and clearer. And this simplicity has its practical benefits. The fact is that in our world, sometimes you need to react very quickly to certain events, without really thinking about them. To do this, it is necessary to be able to correctly evaluate these events and select the most appropriate behavior pattern for them. This must be done quickly. This is where our beliefs help us, thanks to which we put everything in its place in a short time and make the necessary decisions. At the same time, we convince ourselves that we understand everything and control everything, because we know exactly what is happening and what to do about it. Sometimes, of course, we are wrong, but in most cases, our beliefs help us survive and achieve certain success, so we value them.

There is another meaning in our beliefs - it is psychological comfort. We feel much more confident and smarter when we think that we know, well, if not everything, then a lot, or at least what we need for a normal life. In reality, this is not so. For not only a single person, but in general all of humanity still does not know a lot about this world. But thinking that we know a lot, we believe that we can control a lot and can influence a lot. And thanks to this opinion, we are calm and even sometimes overly self-confident. Also, our psychological comfort is affected by the convenience for us of our beliefs. For example, if a person considers himself good, smart, talented, and so on, then he feels good about such an opinion about himself, right? Other people may see a completely different personality in him and have a completely different opinion about him. But he doesn't need to know about it. He lives in his fictional world, in which he likes what he sees several times every day in the mirror, both literally and figuratively. And another important point, thanks to which our beliefs help us feel comfortable, is connected with the laziness of the human mind. People don’t really like to think long and exhaustingly about something, to reason and think about something - for real, asking difficult questions and building complex structures out of them, and not just chasing other people’s thoughts around their heads or arguing about something with foam at the mouth. They do not like it because mental work is very hard work, much harder than physical work. And without special need, people do not want to do it. It is much easier to turn to your beliefs when assessing this or that event and making this or that decision. Beliefs do not require external and internal dialogue from a person, unless he is going to rethink them. They just exist and can be applied to different events and different people. You don't need to think about it, at least a lot.

This is the meaning of a person's beliefs. Due to our beliefs, our life is relatively simple and comfortable for us. Although beliefs are different and some of them poison people's lives. Therefore, you need to work with such harmful beliefs, on your own or with the help of a specialist, in order to replace them with more useful ones.

The essence of belief

Now let's touch on a more interesting issue and talk about the essence of belief. The essence is the most important and essential thing in anything. So, the essence of any belief is the desire of a person to live in an understandable and explainable world. This is the most important thing that our beliefs give us. Thanks to them, we have a stable model of the world in our head. Without belief, we would be forced to rediscover this world every time, studying its features as if we had just been born. At the same time, as I wrote above, beliefs make our life easier. And the simpler the belief itself, the easier it is to accept. People love to smear everything with black and white paints - seeing only good in some things, and only bad in others. And therefore they need such convictions that allow them to concrete their picture of the world with the help of eternal and indestructible truths. People don't need such philosophical points of view as knowing that you don't know anything. People want to know obvious things, the obviousness of which should not be questioned under any circumstances. In this sense, our beliefs make us see in the darkness of ignorance and give us confidence in our own abilities.

How are beliefs formed?

And now we will consider an even more interesting and important issue regarding human beliefs. This is a question of how they are formed, our beliefs. We must understand where it came to us and comes from what we consider our own. This is easy to understand, understanding the essence and meaning of the beliefs that I wrote about above. Therefore, knowing what beliefs are for and what is most important in them, we can see and understand the pattern of their formation.

Beliefs are formed due to the personal experience of a person, his knowledge, upbringing, some bright events in his life that made a strong impression on him and made him believe in something, as well as thanks to social stereotypes and authoritative personalities whom the person believed and believes. All these sources of belief have influenced and continue to influence each of us in one way or another. I don’t know if you believe that any, even the most brilliant person, brings into this world no more than ten percent of really something of his own, but it is quite obvious that much of what we know and what we believe has come to us from other people. And this means that any information from the outside world in one way or another forms our beliefs. There is no point in classifying it somehow, although I did just that above to show you where we get what then becomes our beliefs. The main thing, in my opinion, is different here. We need to understand how our beliefs affect our lives. To do this, you can make a reverse move - think, looking at your life, what led you to it. Our lives have shaped certain beliefs in us. And now they affect our life, making it what it is.

Each person has their own experience of gaining certain beliefs. Someone basically succumbed to public opinion and formed their beliefs on its basis. For some, the main source of his beliefs have become authoritative personalities, for example, parents, teachers, mentors and just people who are successful in something. And someone's beliefs were formed mainly due to the books that he read. Well, your life experience should not be discounted. He also teaches us a lot. For some, this experience underlies all his beliefs, when a person believes mainly in what he himself once saw, heard, touched, felt, and so on. Usually people are well convinced by something that makes a very strong impression on them. I mean something that evokes strong emotions and feelings. Logic and reason are much less likely to contribute to the formation of beliefs. In order for you to understand this better, let's now talk about the methods of persuasion.

Methods of persuasion

How to convince a person, people of something? There are many different methods to do this. I will tell you about some of them, which, in my opinion, are the most powerful and often used. First of all, it should be said that any methods of persuasion have one common basis - they are addressed to the needs and desires of people. It is easy to convince a person that in one way or another meets his interests, desires, needs. And this means that a person can be convinced of anything, because any ideas can be associated with his interests, desires and needs. A simple example is the flat earth. Why does a person need such a conviction, especially if he knows that it is round? If he lives in a society in which it is important to adhere to the point of view of the majority in order to at least survive, and at the maximum to enlist someone's support, then what difference does it make to him what the Earth really is? Let it be flat if others want it.

It's not about truth, it's about what it gives a person. Therefore, it is much easier for people to start believing in what is beneficial for them to believe or even vital to believe. For this reason, people always try to stick to beliefs that are beneficial and convenient for them, and not true ones.

Simplicity, certainty, clarity is another very important criterion for most persuasion methods. People do not want to carry in their heads too complex mental structures, theories, concepts. They do not need beliefs with variable truths, relative statements, all sorts of variations. It is easier for them to accept clear and precise statements that specifically talk about specific things. Such people are good, and such are bad, this is right, but this is not, this is true, and this is false. And that's it, no options. These are the beliefs that can sit in the mind of many people all their lives. Beliefs should be simple and easy, understandable and specific, and one might even say interesting, so that people can easily remember and adopt them.

The next important point in the methods of persuasion is, as I have already said, the colorfulness, the brightness of an event or some kind of statement. People are easily convinced of something if you make a strong emotional impression on them. People need emotions, feelings, energy in which to clothe the truths transmitted to them. It is not for nothing that the people believe more in the one who speaks the loudest, shouts, swears. Sometimes it makes sense even to mention such qualities as courage, audacity and assertiveness, and even impudence, thanks to which many speakers convinced people of their views. There must be strength in beliefs in order for most people to accept them, since strength in this world is a very weighty argument.

The next method of persuasion is based on the ability to lead a person to the right thoughts, attitudes, conclusions, without hurting his self-esteem, pride and ego. It is necessary in every possible way to help a person save face, convincing him of something, so that he does not consider himself stupider and weaker than you. This is, in my opinion, the most useful method of persuasion by which people can be taught something and helped them solve their problems. It is this approach that I use in my consultations, because I have long been convinced that no matter what useful advice a specialist gives to his clients, most often they do not follow them, including because of their unwillingness to follow other people's advice and recommendations, to the detriment of their own. own opinion and desires. This approach allows you to bypass many of the psychological defenses of a person and convey important thoughts to his consciousness. But he also has a drawback. It cannot be used if a person, a client, a student, a patient, does not want to think, reason, think. Or even worse, he doesn't know how to do it. Then no matter how much you push a person to useful thoughts, he still will not draw independent conclusions. Therefore, this method of persuasion is sometimes useless.

Logic is also often used to convince people of something, but it is not always well received. I can use iron logic, proving to the smoker the harmfulness of his habit. And he can agree with me in everything, but he still won’t quit smoking. Because my belief about the dangers of smoking will not become his belief, since he can understand everything with his head, but his body will push him to further harm his health. Logic helps to explain, chew, prove, but it is not able to help the mind of another person cope with his animal essence. In fact, all arguments addressed to the mind, in the process of persuading a person, will be as effective as that person is reasonable. If he perceives logic badly, if he is not used to thinking about his own or other people's thoughts, then it is pointless to convince him with the help of logic alone. Nevertheless, logic must always be present in the process of persuasion, even the most elementary one. The human brain is designed in such a way that it is always looking for a connection between various statements. Thinking, of course, can be upset, as it sometimes happens in religious sects, where a person can be instilled with such absurd, illogical, contrary to all common sense beliefs that he will simply forget how to think correctly. In these cases, pseudo-logic and some other methods of persuasion are used. But in most other cases, normal logic is needed. Moreover, the simpler it will be [will consist of fewer links], the better. If A, then B - this is the easiest scheme for people to understand and accept. But the more complex the logical construction, the more suspicion it causes. For everything complicated is often false. Most of us have experienced this in our lifetime.

Repetition of information is a relatively simple and highly effective method of persuasion. If you are constantly hammered into some thought, then sooner or later you will accept it, well, most likely accept it, because you will begin to consider it very important, since it is repeated so often. And if it is important, then it is true. In any case, it must be remembered. And having remembered something, we then consider this information as our own, and it becomes part of our beliefs. This is how primitive advertising works, which inspires people a hundred times a day that this particular washing powder is the best on the market, so you need to buy it. Many people say that advertising does not work for them. And look, and you will see that they are surrounded by advertised things everywhere. So, no matter what anyone says about this method of persuasion, it has always been and remains very effective.

Fear is a very effective method of persuasion. When people experience fear, they are ready to believe anything to get rid of it. They also remember well what is associated with a feeling of fear and try not to face those that cause it. For example, parents often use feelings of fear to convince their child not to do something they think they shouldn't do. Myths and legends that appeal to the feeling of fear of people are also quite stable - they are believed in, they are referred to, when explaining strange and terrible phenomena, they scare them. So this feeling, perhaps the strongest of all, is used in many persuasion techniques.

Myths and legends are what most people's beliefs are based on. Even many historical facts often turn out to be nothing more than myths. And these myths form the basis of the beliefs of a huge number of people who then make important life decisions based on these beliefs. So you can live your whole life blindly, without realizing that you were moving along a non-existent path to an unattainable goal. The essence of this method is to turn to the past, to myths and legends, convincing another person, other people of something. People willingly believe in something that has a very long history, which was believed by many generations before them. Well, the colorfulness and unusualness of the myth, the legend, as I wrote above, gives it additional weight.

These are the methods of persuasion I can present to your attention. In fact, there are many more. But these are enough to convince most people of almost anything.

The power of persuasion

Now let's talk about the power of persuasion. This power should not be underestimated. She is much more powerful than she looks. Most people are not driven by common sense, but by what they believe. And people can believe in everything, even in the most absurd things. As I said above, I am absolutely sure that almost anyone can be convinced of anything. Why do I think so? Because it is impossible to synchronize the objective reality with the reality that is in the human head. We all live in imaginary worlds that are only partially a reflection of the outside world. Therefore, in any case, a person will adhere to some beliefs, regardless of who turns out to be their author. For we all need some kind of model of the world in our head in order to navigate in the environment. So beliefs are strong primarily because we simply cannot do without them. But what these beliefs will be, is another question.

Again, people can believe whatever they want. Therefore, if someone convinces a person that black is white and white is black, then one should not be surprised that he will begin to consider this the truth. Never be surprised at the absurdity of someone's beliefs and do not go against a person if you see that he is not ready to give them up. Your picture of the world is true only for you, and other people can look at life differently and understand it in their own way. You need to be able to accept their views in order to find a common language with them. That is why I advise you to agree with people on various issues more often, if possible, and not to argue and not to convince them in order to be able to agree with them.

The strength of one or another belief is often embodied in the form of violence. In this form, this power is easiest to see and feel. As soon as some authoritative person inspires the masses with destructive ideas, people will begin to do evil to bring these crazy ideas to life. This has happened many times in history. Beliefs in such cases become social viruses that pass from one person to another and eventually infect the minds and hearts of most people. And interestingly, even if these beliefs are absurd, the very fact that most people believe in them helps to strengthen and spread them. It is easier for a person to join the majority, no matter what this majority believes, than to draw their own conclusions, and even more so, to try to convince this majority of something. Most often, strong destructive beliefs are picked up by weak people who want to use them to feel strong. In addition, violence against someone else is often a way to protect against this violence. A weak person understands, or feels, that as long as the majority to which he belongs hates someone else, nothing threatens him. Aggression and violence have always been a part of our society. But few people want to become their target.

A person's beliefs are his program of action. And the closer this program is to the natural essence of a person, the easier it is for him to follow it. And aggression and the desire to commit violence against other people, mostly weaker ones, is part of our nature. That is why many leaders, manipulating the masses, turned more to their animal aggressive nature than to reason and virtue. It is easier to make people hate someone than to love someone. And by hating someone, and even more so by causing harm to someone, people feel strong. Most people have always needed an enemy, because they do not want to be responsible for their own problems, failures, suffering, miscalculations, stupidities. It's easier to put the blame on someone else. And therefore, if they find this enemy, preferably in the person of someone whom they are able to punish, then people will willingly accept this idea. They will believe in evil, but they will consider themselves good, for every evil can be justified. That is what those manipulators do who control the crowd through its aggression. They find enemies, scapegoats for them and urge them to punish them. This is the strength and at the same time the danger of some beliefs - in the idea embodied in physical violence.

But there is another, positive force of belief - the force of non-violence, the force of love, the force of goodness. A person can be convinced of the need to do good deeds, help other people, work for the common good, lead a creative lifestyle. And although it is more difficult to convince a person of the need to be kind and good than evil and bad, we still see that our culture generally succeeds. Culture opposes reason and virtue to the natural aggressive essence of man. Thus, a person can be programmed for any life, having formed the appropriate beliefs in him. This also expresses their strength - they make a person who he is.

And yet what gives beliefs the greatest power is that they can be anything, regardless of objective reality. Beliefs can be good, that is, useful for a person and society, or they can be bad, bringing pain and suffering to people. However, their main quality is survivability. Like it or not, we cannot live without any beliefs. And the more durable the belief, the more stable it is, and the more people adhere to it, the stronger it is. At the same time, most of our beliefs are based on such statements, truths and facts that we ourselves are not able to verify. In fact, most of our beliefs are based on our belief in something. Even what we know from our own experience may have different explanations. The only question is which explanation we will accept, which one we will believe. And some explanation for everything that we see, hear, know, we still have to accept. And when we do this, when we decide on our beliefs, we will empower them, allowing them to rule our lives. Therefore, your current beliefs largely govern your life and your behavior. And if for some reason you don’t really like your life, then it makes sense to think about these beliefs and, if possible and necessary, reconsider them.

Persuasion - Humanitarian Portal

Belief is The communication process between people (and result of this process), during which Proof (convinced) transfers to the opponent (convinced) some Significant information in order to give rise to Vera in its the truth is . At the same time, persuasion is not capable of serving by itself proof of the truth of the transmitted information. However, during the process of persuasion, one or another form of evidence is often used in the framework of argumentation (see Argumentation). In this sense, persuasion is understood as a method of verbal influence, which includes a system of arguments (arguments) built according to the laws of formal logic (see Formal Logic) and substantiating (see Justification) statement 9 put forward by the proponent 900

1 (thesis).

The goal of persuasion as a communication process is achieved if the opponent understood the proponent and believed him. Most often, it is achieved in two ways: monologue , when the proponent speaks, and the opponent listens to him, perceiving the transmitted information, and dialogue , when the opponent has the opportunity not only to ask questions, but also to criticize the proponent, analyzing his statements. Successful persuasion leads to the opponent's acceptance of new information and their subsequent inclusion in his system of views and beliefs, and, consequently, to a change in the motivational basis of his behavior. Therefore, in some social practices, persuasion is considered as a method of influencing a person's thinking and behavior. At the same time, the difference from such a common method of influencing consciousness as suggestion , belief is based on the meaningful (but not always rational) acceptance by the individual of the information transmitted to him, on their analysis and subsequent evaluation.

The result of persuasion (i.e., persuasion as a result) can be represented as a stable, conscious need of an individual, prompting him to think and act in accordance with new value orientations. The content of such needs, acting in the form of beliefs, reflects a certain picture of the world of the individual, in the correctness of which he believes and on the basis of which he acts. Forming an ordered system of views, the totality of beliefs acts as alignment (see Alignment). Persuasion as a process and persuasion as a result are not always unambiguously correlated. A separate explanation requires the fact that an individual is able not only to form his own worldview and act on the basis of beliefs, but in a number of situations he is ready to give his life for them.

In the intellectual tradition since the time of Plato and Aristotle, two methods of persuasion are distinguished: dialectical and eristic . The dialectician proponent communicates to the opponent the information that he himself believes in, and cites in its defense those arguments that convinced him himself. The proponent-erist is less scrupulous: he seeks to convince the proponent of the correctness of the information, belief in which is beneficial to him or his customers.

In the simplest case, the dialectician proponent simply reproduces the thesis and those arguments in its defense that convinced him. This is quite enough when the proponent and opponent are on the same social, intellectual and professional level. But, for example, for a politician who is fighting for the presidency, such persuasion tactics are doomed to failure. The process of persuasion takes place in the mind of the opponent, who believes only in what follows from the beliefs he already has, moreover, according to the rules that also do not cause him doubts. That is why the most conscientious substantiation of the thesis can cause rejection in him, and the totality of demagogic methods - delight. Therefore, the condition for successful persuasive influence is the ability to put yourself in the place of the proponent, "to look at the world through his eyes." Psychologists call this ability empathy . A proponent who possesses it puts forward only those theses that the opponent is able to understand, and brings in their defense only those arguments that he is able to accept. Already ancient thinkers were well aware that the process of persuasion is not limited to rational arguments and logical reasoning based on them, although the latter are its strong means. Even Aristotle in his "Rhetoric" pointed out that persuasion is achieved, firstly, by the character and behavior of the orator; secondly, the emotional impact on the listeners, the ability to evoke feelings and moods in them that are appropriate to the situation; thirdly, the content of logical evidence. In the future, these components of persuasion, jointly studied in ancient rhetoric , became the subject of a separate study in philosophy, logic and psychology, and rhetoric itself turned into a branch of philology that studied rather artificial forms of constructing oratory.

Each belief usually consists of two parts: describing and prescribing . These two parts determine two directions of the process of persuasion: the proponent first substantiates the truth of the descriptions he reports, and then creates faith in the rationality of the prescriptions formulated on their basis. These are different procedures. By convincing the opponent of the truth of the description, the proponent shows that it corresponds to his subject, and by convincing him of the rationality of the prescription following from this description, he shows its correspondence, firstly, to the needs of the person being convinced; secondly, the laws of the objective world; thirdly, one or another opportunity to bring it to life. It follows that among the factors influencing the result of persuasion, the most important place is occupied by the interests of the person being convinced. Without taking them into account, it is impossible to convince or change his mind.

Often in politics, jurisprudence, ethics and other social practices, situations arise when the opponent's low educational level (see Education) does not allow him to be convinced of the truth of the thesis by those arguments that actually prove it. There are two ways to get out of this situation. It is not uncommon for a dialectic proponent, such as a lawyer, who convinces jurors of the correctness of his proposed solution, uses eristic proof, that is, becomes a dialecticist in goals and an erist in means. But sooner or later, the opponent realizes that he was "fooled around", and "throws out the baby with the water" - refuses the correct beliefs generated by eristic tricks. The second way out is simply that non-professionals are not allowed to solve problems in which they are incompetent, and this work is transferred to specialists who deserve their trust. Thus, it is precisely for this purpose that universal suffrage is deliberately restricted in a number of cases. Thus, the scope of "white lies" narrows. And vice versa: erists often deliberately expand the circle of people who make decisions in order to suppress the opinion of specialists with the opinion of an incompetent majority. Erist never defends a blatant lie. His art is based on the startling fact that lies are often more like the truth than the truth itself. Eristic methods of persuasion have been carefully described, researched and criticized since the time of Aristotle. But their arsenal is constantly replenished, and their success with non-professionals does not decrease.

In addition to the indicated meanings of the term "belief" in the common sense, in scientifically oriented discourses, in particular in analytical epistemology (see Epistemology) and methodology of science (see Methodology of science), it is often used as the term "belief" ( belief) in the definition of the term "knowledge" (knowledge): "knowledge is a justified belief"; or it generally replaces the term "knowledge" in order to remove the question of its assessment of truth.

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