Your Core Issues Undermine Your Life Until You Let Go of the Defenses You Developed as a Child

“You cannot make a long-term change in behaviors without addressing the beliefs that underlie them… Most humans try to change things by focusing on behaviors. They keep thinking they can make things better by doing something. So, everyone is running around trying to figure out what they can do. The focus is on doing something, rather than on believing something. But radical forces within your societies have always sought to change things by using the power of thought, not action, for they know that thought produces action. Get a person thinking a certain way and you can get a person to act a certain way. It is not easily done the other way around.      Neale Donald Walsch

Our core issues in recovery for those of us who lived in a family of “don’t ask–don’t tell” include the following:

From Want to Know.Info: “Transform Fear Through Core Issue Work”:

“Most of us have one or more core issues or challenges which surface repeatedly over the course of our lives. These issues are usually rooted in deep unexpressed fears. Depending on your perspective, core issues either cause all sorts of problems, or present many opportunities for transformation. When you choose to look at core issues as an opportunity, you are much more likely to transform your fears into learning tools which lead to a better life. Below are the most common core issues, their related fears, and suggestions for dealing with them.”

“Examples of Common Core Issues and Associated Fears”

  • Abandonment – Nobody cares about me. I’m all alone. I don’t matter.
  • Arrogance – I’m better than all of you. I’m too much. I’m right and you’re wrong.
  • Damaged – Something is wrong with me. I’m a failure. I’m damaged.
  • Inferiority – I’m not good enough. I’m stupid. I’m worthless. I’m boring. I’m hopeless.
  • Rejection – I’m a burden. I’m unwanted. Nobody wants to spend time with me.
  • Shame – I’m bad. I’m evil. I’m a mistake. I’m a monster. I’m disgusting. I’m possessed.

“Our core issues often originate from childhood family scenarios. They can be a result of negative messages that were repeated many times to us by our parents or other significant people in our lives. Or one of these beliefs may have been driven deep into us during one or more traumatic experiences. Was one of the above statements drilled into you in your early years?”

In a post on The L.I.S.T ACA Group, a reprint from ACA WSO Webster, lists the “Effects of Abuse and How to Get Past them”, the following suggestions for overcoming abuse are given:

  1. Share your story – you don’t need to deal with pain alone
  2. Believe your story – you have a tendency to discount
  3. Establish perpetrator responsibility – recognize it isn’t about you
  4. Address the addictions used to numb the pain
  5. Realize you can deal with the pain without mood altering substances
  6. Learn to recognize, then accept, and then communicate feelings
  7. Learn to nurture yourself
  8. Build self-esteem and positive body image (affirmations)
  9. Deal with family of origin – break the code of secrecy – by writing and talking with other people
  10. Learn to be playful
  11. Learn that now you do have a chance to live, you do have choices – you need not be a victim
  12. Take back your power – act responsibly, set boundaries that feel comfortable, control sexual  behavior – you can control who enters your life
  13. Remind yourself of your strengths
  14. Learn you can say “No”
  15. Learn to give and receive criticism
  16. Stop abusing others

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is the basic therapy used to help us learn about our mental self-sabotaging habits. Our core issues or beliefs are started in childhood in defense of a bewildering world. But we are adults now. We have years of experience at combating life’s trials. We need to give up these core issues in order to love ourselves and others better. It is wasted energy holding onto these childish beliefs.

Spend time examining each core issue to determine its hold over you. My main core belief was abandonment. This was a natural response on my part of growing up in a home controlled by alcoholism. Trust was absent from all of our dealings with each other. We wanted to trust but knew we would be betrayed.

From Ross Psychology: Cognitive Therapy 101: Connecting Situations, Thoughts, and Emotions:

“Typically, connecting thoughts, feelings, and events constitutes the first step in cognitive therapy.

The most helpful approach can be to begin with the emotions and end with the thoughts. The following questions may help:

What am I feeling? (What emotion am I having

        right now?)

What is happening to make me feel that way

What am I thinking about the situation to make me

        feel that emotion?

Example One:

           Situation:       Chuck didn’t call.  

           Thought:      “He doesn’t love me.”

           Emotion:     Sadness



           Situation:       Chuck didn’t call.

           Thought:      “He’s playing games.”

           Emotion:     Anger

Example Two:

            Situation:      I am lost.

           Thought:      “I’m an idiot.”

           Emotion:     Anger



Example Three:

           Situation:       I visited my sister and she told me I

                              don’t do enough for the kids.

           Thoughts:     “She doesn’t appreciate me.”

           Emotion:     Anger



           Situation:       I visited my sister and she told me I

                              don’t do enough for the kids.

           Thoughts:     “I’m a terrible person.”

           Emotion:     Depression

In these examples, you might be able to see how each person’s thoughts can greatly affect his/her emotions and that different interpretations of the same situations might lead to different and possibly more pleasant feelings.”


“When a strong emotion arises, attempt to notice the situation that caused the feeling. Next, identify the thought that caused the emotional reaction. Consult the above information for guidance.”

Photo credit.

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