Home More News Mullen-Johnson: Uncovering your Core Beliefs

Mullen-Johnson: Uncovering your Core Beliefs

By Crystal Mullen-Johnson

Did you know that your core beliefs are ingrained thoughts that influence your perception of self, others, and the external world? Core beliefs can control one’s life, which can actually shape reality. These beliefs are formed during early childhood developmental years and are not easily altered; however, one can change them and improve their mental health.

My client’s core beliefs are often addressed during therapy to improve their mental health. Clients are often not aware of limiting core beliefs. These negative core beliefs matter because they impact thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Adopting negative core beliefs can cause stress, depression, anxiety, and conflict. These negative beliefs are influenced by life experiences, upbringing, trauma, and failures. These experiences can create Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS) that may seem true, despite evidence they are not. ANTS are annoying.

Some common core beliefs are – “I am a failure”, “people cannot be trusted”, and “I am not good enough”. These negative beliefs are internalized and are often challenging to refute.  One may seek evidence to support these negative beliefs. Imagine being raised by parents that labeled you as “a failure” and neglected to validate your feelings. Such experiences would resonate with you and the resultant beliefs would regularly resurface and cause negative self-criticism.

Also imagine two people with different core beliefs receiving poor job performance ratings.  One may develop a positive core belief, “I didn’t work hard enough, but I can do better”, while the other may adopt a negative core belief, “I am a failure”.  If one adopts positive core beliefs, they are likely to try harder, as opposed to not making any changes at all.

It is important to understand how one’s core beliefs are causing impairments in their life. These beliefs can be identified by doing the following:

  • Begin Mental Health Counseling with a qualified therapist,
  • Using affirmations & mantras,
  • Journaling your negative thoughts and identifying triggers,
  • Exploring the patterns and meanings of your thoughts,
  • Replacing “I am not” with “I am” and “I Can’t” with “I Can”


Developing an understanding of one’s thoughts can improve their self-confidence, create positive experiences, and improve relationships with others.

Betty Eadie, a prominent American author reminds us, “If we understood the power of our thoughts, we would guard them more closely. If we understood the awesome power of our words, we would prefer silence to almost anything negative. In our thoughts and words, we create our own weaknesses and our own strengths. Our limitations and joys begin in our hearts. We can always replace negative with positive”.


Crystal Mullen-Johnson is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW-PIP) and a Registered Play Therapist in Birmingham, AL with more than 16 years of experience providing counseling. Strive Counseling Services, located in downtown Birmingham is a private practice offering therapeutic mental health services to children (play therapy), adolescents, and adults. Strive offers evidence-based therapeutic modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Contact us at (205) 721-9893 or www.strivebhm.com  to inquire about our Telehealth Services.