Is It Really Your Toxic Trait or a Negative Core Belief?

It’s easy to sum up our negative traits as toxic and irreparable. The most common behavioral signs of a toxic person are blaming, passive aggression, criticism, negativity, and emotional blackmail— quite the combo pack. All of these are highly problematic traits that will quickly get someone labeled as the “toxic person” and can easily create toxic situations with certain people. But what if it’s not as simple as just chalking it up to “well that’s just my toxic trait”. It could be your negative core beliefs paving the way.

Core beliefs are the most central ideas that we have, and they often fall into three main camps: beliefs that we have about ourselves, others, and the world. These beliefs are often learned ideas that commonly develop throughout our childhood, during moments of stress, or even during traumatic periods in adulthood. Our negative core beliefs are the more judgmental and potentially harmful beliefs that we carry with us throughout our daily lives. We understand and evaluate every aspect of our experiences through the lenses of our core beliefs, but they can become unbeneficial. These beliefs may not necessarily be true, but they can certainly feel true.

Oftentimes, our negative core beliefs can impact our relationships with others. Because these beliefs are so deeply embedded in moments from significant events, they can be rigid, long-standing, and difficult to change. But not impossible! Identifying, challenging, and eventually reversing the negative core beliefs are key steps to beginning the change.

  1. Identify the core beliefs: this can be done by examining “I am” statements that you may say to yourself or considering how you might end the following sentences:
    Others are ____
    The world is ____
    The future is _____
    What themes do you notice about your answers? These are your core beliefs.
  2. Challenge the beliefs: it is important to ask yourself how these beliefs are benefiting you.
    How true are these thoughts?
    Are these beliefs helpful? Are they positive?
    What are the advantages/disadvantages of believing them?
  3. Reverse the beliefs: Once you have assessed the costs and/or benefits of holding onto these beliefs, start to consider what the opposite belief could be and whether it is more true/helpful than the negative belief. Begin to create the antidote by building positive affirmations to help combat negative thoughts as they surface.

    It’s important to remember that changing core beliefs about yourself takes time and practice, especially because they are deeply rooted in who we are. But uncovering your core beliefs and challenging them will certainly help in making more positive changes in how we view the world and interact with people in our daily lives.

Sabrina Roc, MS, LGMFT, provides couple, family, and individual therapy in our downtown Bethesda, MD office and virtually to those located in the State of Maryland. Call or email today to set up your first appointment or a complimentary consultation with Sabrina.