I don’t really need to convince you of the quality and quantity of change affecting our world, our businesses, our families and our lives. I think this is pretty obvious. Just about everyone is referring to it in relation to their industry or position – financial services, healthcare, automotive, energy, and so on.
What I find absent in the conversations about change is any broader discussion or attempt at understanding what is really happening and why it is so hard on everyone. I believe that the answer can be found in an understanding of what core beliefs are and how they work in our lives and workplaces.
In my previous post, I defined beliefs on a continuum from peripheral to core and their relationship to the ease with which we make change. Peripheral beliefs are easy to change (for most of us.) Core beliefs are the big ones, the ones that make change feel hard, painful and something we consciously and unconsciously avoid.
The way you can distinguish core beliefs from all the others you hold is that they are the beliefs you have constructed that directly relate to your perceived survival – and I mean survival at a physical, emotional, psychological or spiritual level.
Before I get to an example to illustrate this, I’d like to expand on my definition of core beliefs by explaining three types, since it continues to help us understand change – our ability to create change, our ability to accept change and our ability to move through change – in our lives, our businesses and our society.
Types of Core Beliefs
As we grow up and move through life, we collect up beliefs that support our sense of identity, give us meaning for how we fit in the world and help us make sense of how the world works. There are three main types of core beliefs:
- Community related – beliefs that resonates to group or tribe power
- Relationship related – beliefs that resonate to power between self and other
- Self-related – beliefs that resonate to our personal power in relation to the world
Community related beliefs are the most basic and most closely tied to our survival in the world. Community related beliefs tie us to our tribe, to our family, to any type of group we engage with. Community related beliefs are what give us connection to our family, give us a sense of belonging to a group and support the formation of our identity within those groups.
- Strength: Community related beliefs provide us strength in identifying with our group or tribe, they provide an honor code to live within and create a sense of loyalty, safety and connection to the world. We see this in children as they bond with their family, in young adults they connect with sports teams, groups or gangs; in our desire to join association or industry groups in business; and in our desire to find any group, formal or informal, of like-minded people.
- Weakness: Our greatest fears in this area are related to physical survival, abandonment by the group and loss of physical order.
- Awareness: Community related beliefs expose us to the truth and help us understand the concept that All is One.
Relationship related beliefs shift our focus from belonging to a group to discovering relationships that support our personal, physical needs and wants. Relationship related beliefs make meaning of our life through relationship to someone or something else relative to ourselves. We use them to maintain control over our environment or relationships with things like other people, authority, and money. Relationship beliefs are those that help us feel in control of our world.
- Strength: The greatest strength in relationship beliefs comes from creating a sense of ability to survive in the world on our own, to defend and protect ourselves, to take risks, the ability to recover from loss, the power to rebel. It is this group of beliefs that tie directly to our personal and professional decision-making.
- Weakness: Our greatest fears in this area are related to loss of control or being controlled by others; fears of betrayal, abandonment by our partners or professional colleagues; and loss of the power of our physical body.
- Awareness: Relationship related beliefs teach us the truth and meaning of Honor One Another.
Self related beliefs are our most personal beliefs about ourselves in relation to ourself. Self related beliefs are those that tie directly to our own personal power and self-esteem. These beliefs have to do with how we relate to ourselves.
- Strength: Self-related beliefs create strength for us in creating self-esteem, self-respect, and self-discipline; strength in ambition and action and handling crisis; courage; ethics and strength of character.
- Weakness: Our greatest fears in this area are fears of rejection, criticism, looking foolish and failing to meet our responsibilities; fears related to physical appearance; and fears related to other’s discovering our secrets.
- Awareness: Self related beliefs help us live the truth Honor Oneself.
These groupings of beliefs are important because they help us understand where we will find resistance to change – either in ourselves or in our work with others. If you can see the change as affecting core beliefs in these areas, then you can see which fears are being triggered and can make a connection to how you might approach the change you are making or the change your are experiencing.
An example: using core beliefs to make change
In 1950, as the US recovered from the Second World War, no one gave much thought to space travel or landing on the moon, except perhaps as a fantasy or a science fiction story plot. As a reminder, the decade of the ‘50’s were characterized by the Korean War, the Cold War and fear of communism.
Core Belief at the time:
America’s leadership on the global stage is paramount.
The American way of life is ‘best.’
The fears of the 1950’s and 1960’s were survival fears as our dominance on the world stage was threatened by the USSR. In 1961, President Kennedy tapped into Americans’ core belief related to pride in their country and propelled support for space travel by the end of the ‘60’s.
In this instance, fears motivated significant change. President Kennedy used our core community related beliefs associated with patriotism, pride and leadership to overcome resistance to undertaking what seemed impossible at the time – landing a man on the moon before the USSR.
By tapping in to that core belief, he motivated policy change, technological advances and budget commitments that were unprecedented. The American people were prepared to do what it took to preserve their core belief of ‘America’s leadership is paramount.’ So much so that any beliefs we might have held at the time about what could be possible related to space travel were quickly set aside. In fact, we landed a man on the moon in 1970 and much of the technological and scientific advancement related to that time has made our current communication and technology infrastructure possible.
It is possible to tap into a core belief to motivate change. Too often we tap into core beliefs to prevent or resist change. You have a choice in this.
Reference/Resources: Ideas about beliefs are drawn from Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing by Caroline Myss.