In our last blog we were looking at how faulty core beliefs are often at the root of sex addiction and porn addiction. We looked at how those core beliefs often result in assumptions and then in automatic negative thoughts (ANT’s) and can become part of our self-identity. Today we’re going to look at where those core beliefs may originate.
Why can’t I beat porn addiction?
If you’re struggling to beat your addiction it may be because of faulty core beliefs. And like most things, those beliefs probably began in your childhood. From what you saw and what you heard. We pick up our core beliefs, good and bad, from our parents or primary care givers. Sometimes those messages are very overt and obvious, they’re messages that are drummed into us verbally, maybe even physically. But often they’re more subtle.
Let’s pick up on some of the examples we used in our last blog. “People are untrustworthy”. You may have been explicitly told that – “don’t trust anyone”, “everyone is out for themselves”. Or maybe your parents were untrustworthy, not only did they often let you down, but you saw them betraying other people’s trust as well. If you’re someone who thinks “people will only like me if I’m successful” – maybe you had a workaholic parent who surrounded him or herself with like-minded peers and you heard them laughing, or belittling people with lower pay-grade jobs. If your identity has become ‘a cheat’, is that because you were brought up with the ‘people are untrustworthy’ core belief and hence you followed suit? Or maybe you were brought up in a home where you weren’t allowed any privacy and if you attempted to maintain some, you were told you were being deceptive, or maybe living a double life was the only way to get time and space for yourself. The last example we used was the one about giving in to cravings. Something we often here from clients is that their parent overtly said, “you’ve got no self-control” and used it as an excuse for their child eating junk food or binging on computer games or not prioritising revision. Often these parents demonstrated little self-control themselves, ranging from serious issues such a violent outbursts and/or alcoholism to a host of minor bad habits from diet and exercise to caring for the home. It is a parent’s job to teach self-control through what they say, but much more importantly, through how they live their lives.
How beliefs are reinforced
As we saw in the last blog, those core messages become increasingly ingrained as we go through life. We notice the experiences that reinforce the messages, and often ignore, or minimise what we see as ‘exceptions to the rule’. If your first girlfriend left you for your best mate – that’s going to set the “people are untrustworthy” belief in stone. If when you get to school, you notice that all the ‘popular’ kids get the top grades and are great at sport – that’ll cement the “people will only like me if I’m successful”. If your strict parent who gave you no personal space sends you off to boarding school, you’ll most likely learn that ‘hiding stuff’ is the only way to get privacy in your dorm. And every time you give in to a craving with porn, you’ll be reinforcing your core belief that you have no self-control.
Some of these examples might already be resonating with you, or maybe they’re not. Either way, next time we’re to start drilling down into find what the faulty core beliefs might be that are impacting your recovery. Broadly speaking, faulty core beliefs impact in two ways – either resulting in “I don’t really want to change” or “I can’t change”. Next time we’ll look at “I don’t really want to change”.
So, let’s have a quick summary of what core beliefs are and how they start:
- Faulty core beliefs are the conscious and unconscious messages we learn about ourselves, other people and the world.
- Our core beliefs influence the assumptions that we make, and those assumptions create our automatic negative thoughts.
- Those thoughts influence how we behave and how we behave becomes our identity.
- Faulty core beliefs start in childhood and are then reinforced by experience over our lifetime – unless we notice the exceptions.
- Faulty core beliefs sabotage recovery by telling us either we don’t really want to change, or we can’t change – both of which are lies!
If you want more help to overcome your faulty core beliefs, do get in touch with us about individual counselling or why not join one of our Kick Start Recovery Workshops and find out about the many other ways in which we work.