November 10, 2011

OCD and Core Beliefs

For those of you who have gone through treatment of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, you will have heard the term “core beliefs”.  In my definition, core beliefs are beliefs about yourself that are deeply rooted and very difficult to change.  The other day, I read another blogger’s post about core beliefs and it really got me thinking.  (You can read the other blogger’s post here.)

Some of the core beliefs that she listed REALLY resonated with me.  In fact, most of them hit home, and it inspired me to print them off, so that I can review them on a regular basis, in order to remind myself that I DON’T have to believe these unhelpful things about myself and the world. ....that I have a CHOICE about what I believe about myself and I have the power to change these things so that I can live a happier, healthier life. 

Things have been particularly difficult for me these days, and many of these core beliefs have been triggered, especially due to the extensive amount of time that I’ve been spending around my family.  I spent over a full week in the same house with my sister, and we ended up having a four and a half hour fight to which there was no resolution.    The dynamics in my family are so unhealthy and complicated that it is impossible to explain it all here, but one of the key patterns that has developed is that my Dad and sister have formed an “alliance”, and my Mom and I stuck together.  My brother, for the most part, stayed out of it all.  Now that my Mom is gone, well.....let’s just say that I feel pretty alone and vulnerable.  My Dad blames me for the issues with my sister (why can’t I just let it go?), and if my sister says the sky is pink – he will automatically start thinking that the sky is pink. 

I’ve always been the more sensitive, emotional person in the family, and that has always bothered my Dad.  I suppose he looks at it as a weakness, though he would never admit that.  Couple that with the fact that I was closest to my Mom of us kids.....and I am really struggling to let go.  She only died over two and a half weeks ago for heaven’s sake!  But my Dad wants to get rid of her things.  He wants to get rid of her clothes, her books and a lot of her other personal items.  I wasn’t ready and this really angered my dad.  I think he looks at me as a “road block” to moving on.  Anyway – all last week my Dad and sister spent time clearing out my Mom’s things.  I’m sure you can imagine how this made me feel. 

On Sunday, the day after my Mom’s memorial service, my sister left to go home and my Dad and I got in a major fight.  I was simply attempting to share with him my feelings about how he was handling getting rid of Mom’s things, and of course it escalated to a very abusive experience.  He yelled, and blamed and criticized and didn’t hear a word I said.  I ended up packing up my things and leaving. 

Things are very bad in my family right now and I hold a lot of the burden of responsibility.  You should have held yourself together – just look at what your Dad is going through.  It’s your fault that things are so bad with your family.”  “You should forgive your sister for what she did to your Mom.  It’s over.  Your Dad can let it go, why can’t you?” “What’s wrong with you that you can’t understand where your Dad is coming from?”  When I left my parent’s house on The Island on Sunday I thought that I couldn’t care less if I ever saw my Dad again.  Or my sister.  Right now I am trying to just be quiet, focus on myself and take a break from them all.  I feel bad that my Dad is going through such a difficult time facing his life all alone after having my Mom around for 49 years.  I feel responsible for helping him through this.  And I know he is still very angry with me. 

Here are some of the Core Beliefs that really resonated with me:

I have to please other people all the time,
I have to put others first or they will reject me,
if I argue or disagree, people will not like me,
If I upset someone, I am a bad person,
If someone criticizes me, they must be right. 


  1. I'm so sorry you are going through such a difficult time. Of course I can't comment on your family situation specifically but I seriously doubt all of the friction is your fault. I think we all spend way too much time blaming others (or worse, ourselves) for all sorts of problems when there often is nobody to blame. We are all different and sometimes we just don't mesh well, and in your case, I'm sure everyone in your family grieves differently so there may be clashes. I'm probably over simplifying everything but I hate to see you have the weight of the world on your shoulders....

  2. Maybe it's a good thing for you to take a break. It doesn't have to be permanent, as you are suggesting. A little time and distance may help everyone to grieve.

    Noticing your 'core beliefs' may help you to be able to look at what happened with new insight (maybe with your therapist's help) into how you should respond both to your dad and sister, but more importantly to yourself. Are you REALLY a bad person because you disagreed with your dad? Didn't he have a part to play in the upset too? Even if your dad is 'right' and you are not, does that make you 'bad' or just 'different'?

    As for 'if someone critizises me, they must be right", i didn't know that was a core belief. I just assume the other person must be right, or they wouldn't have said it. Like you, i have to challenge that one myself. :)

    ((HUGS)) I hope things settle down for you soon.

  3. Thanks everyone for your support. Yeah - times are really rough right now. It's a learning process though. I feel better today.