Out With the Old…Core Beliefs

By Erin Olyer Rohlf, LCSW

In case you haven’t noticed, almost any city block in northwest Denver is undergoing a facelift of sorts. Cranes, concrete mixers and crews of construction workers are tearing down the old and building anew to reflect the evolving demands of the Mile High City.

It seems like it was only yesterday when the kitschy “music bar” sign stood coyly on the corner of 46th and Tennyson, beckoning passersby to stop in for a drink. The sign, along with the bar itself, are gone, and the skeletal beginnings of a new apartment building have emerged. 

Regardless of where you land philosophically or politically on the issue of development, change is inevitable. The best we can hope for as citizens—beyond cherishing historic buildings and voting in alignment with our views—is to hope that what’s being built will be an evolution into something beautiful and unique, rather than something cheaply constructed or aesthetically challenged (aka ugly).

How does this relate to mental health and wellness? Consider this: Symbolically speaking, we ourselves are our own developers. Within the landscape of our individual psyches, there are well-worn paths and crumbling foundations that we’ve grown so accustomed to we never question when they should be demolished to make way for new growth.

These landmarks are what’s known in therapy circles as “core beliefs,” and believe me, some of us would do well to conduct a thorough inspection of our core beliefs to discern what’s still relevant to our lives today, and what beliefs are outdated and should be torn down. Whether you’re aware of your core beliefs or not (many of them are subconscious anyway), they have the potential to influence your behavior and choices in a myriad of ways.

Case in point: A 40-something single woman who is new to town came to Denver for a sweet marketing gig in the blossoming cannabis industry. While her professional life is something to be envied, her social life is solitary and sad, primarily because she holds the belief that it’s too difficult to make new friends at her age. The “friends are too hard to find” core belief stops her from initiating new friendships or even striking up conversations. If she wants to make positive change in this area, she would do well to identify the limiting core belief and root it out, to make space for a new belief that opens her up to new friendships. 

This month’s challenge, dear readers, is to find within yourself at least one core belief that’s hindering you from living your best life.

Try this exercise: First, choose a pattern or behavior you’ve noticed about yourself that you wish to change. Start with something simple, like overcoming shyness or banishing procrastination. 

Second, take a moment to get to a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed (if home is not peaceful, take a blanket to a nearby park). Do whatever you typically do to quiet your mind, whether that’s meditation, journaling or streaming chill tunes. Give this a good 10 to 15 minutes to get to a serene, blank-slate state of mind.

Give yourself the following prompt, or something similar: “I am going to count down from 10 to zero. When I get to zero, it will be revealed to me what is causing my … (insert consternating problem here).”

Note the first images, words or connections that come to mind once you reach zero. Remember to write down or record these impressions to revisit later.

Tapping into your inner guidance is a muscle that can be strengthened, so don’t worry if you don’t get anything the first or second time. Once you know which beliefs stand in your way, you can integrate this knowledge by leveling up your choices and behaviors.

Erin Olyer Rohlf is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), professional therapist and founder of Higher Healing and Wellness, LLC. Call her at 720-644-1400 or email her at eorohlf@gmail.com for information or to suggest ideas for future columns.

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