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The Full Mind Weigh™ to Lifelong Weight Management, a program of the Institute for Lifelong Weight Management – teaching you the skills you need to keep the weight off forever!

What are Core Beliefs and How do they Develop?

We all have core beliefs. They can be positive or negative. These are deeply rooted convictions, usually unconscious, which develop in childhood and become the lens through which we view ourselves, other people, the world in general, our past as well as the future. Our negative core beliefs are false ideas that control and limit us until we are able to bring them to awareness and learn how to challenge them. We act as if they are our truths, but in fact they are usually false. Because they are so deeply rooted in our minds, core beliefs are hard to eliminate. However, we can learn to recognize when they are limiting us, and get better at minimizing the damage they do to our lives.

Core beliefs lead to patterns of negative thinking. We tend to focus on information that supports the core belief, and ignore evidence that contradicts it. A core belief acts like a magnet, attracting negative thoughts which reinforce the core belief.

A core belief usually develops in response to a situation in which (a) you feel that you are in great danger or (b) you do not have adequate coping skills. Core beliefs are often formed in childhood or during intense emotional or traumatic experiences. For example, a child who blames herself for her parents’ divorce, as some children do, may develop the belief, “If I’m very good, nothing else bad will happen. If anything bad happens, it’s because I wasn’t good enough”. As we grow older, we usually become less aware of our core beliefs, which often become unconscious. As a result, we act in response to unconscious beliefs which no longer serve us. Core beliefs may serve an important purpose when originally formed, but may sabotage us later in life. Example: “if I am very quiet, no-one will notice me and I’ll be safe”. Core beliefs tend to be related to fundamental human needs – for love, acceptance, safety, security, respect, support, and to be heard.

Examples of Negative Core Beliefs:

Not good enough or incompetent

I am not good enough

I am insignificant

Unlovable or Unwanted

I am not lovable or not likeable

I don’t belong

In danger or not safe

I’m not safe

I’m vulnerable

Bad or defective

I am flawed

I’m a failure

Less than or powerless

I’m weak

I have no options

A Method for Challenging your Unhelpful Core Beliefs:

  1. Pick a negative core belief that you identify with
  2. Ask yourself: what experiences have I had that show that this belief is not accurate (without judging your experiences, list as many as you can think of, and be as specific as you can)
  3. Now, develop an alternative, balanced core belief


  1. I am unworthy of having anything good happen in my life.
  2. I am a kind person. I donate to the homeless shelter. I help my co-workers when they don’t understand something. I have been very helpful towards my elderly neighbor, bringing her meals when she was sick.
  3. I am a good person and I deserve for good things to happen to me.


  1. I can’t maintain my weight loss, so why bother trying.
  2. There have been times when I’ve been able to maintain a healthy weight in the past – at least for a time – until I became overwhelmed with life demands, work stress, and other problems, and didn’t continue doing what I needed to do. I know I’m capable of learning new skills for weight management – after all, I’ve been able to learn many different things and overcome many other challenges in my life.
  3. I know I can do anything I put my mind to – after all, I’ve done so many times before!

Now, try it out for yourself!

To learn more about changing unhelpful core beliefs in the service of lifelong weight management, join my next weight management class, The Full Mind Weigh™ to Lifelong Weight Management. For details, check my website:

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With your continued health in mind,

Doreen Lerner, Ph.D.

Director, The Institute for Lifelong Weight Management

Creator, The Full Mind Weigh™ to Lifelong Weight Management

The Institute for Lifelong Weight Management provides education and training. The Full Mind Weigh™ is strictly an educational program and is not a substitute for medical or psychological evaluation or treatment. If you think you may be suffering from an eating disorder, please consult with a qualified mental health professional who is trained to evaluate and treat eating disorders.