The Fear of Anxiety | Dr Friedemann Schaub
The Fear of not being good enough – Limiting core beliefs
Self-limiting, unsupportive core beliefs are possibly the most important and, at the same time, most underrated causes of fear and anxiety. In general, core beliefs act as our personal laws of the universe. They shape how we view and feel about ourselves and the world, and they determine the choices we make and actions we take. The foundation of our core beliefs can be either our most powerful internal resource or our highest obstacle.
Many of our core beliefs were anchored in our subconscious mind before we entered adolescence. During these early years, our subconscious mind is on a mission to figure out who we are and what our world is about. In this regard core beliefs aren’t usually our original ideas. Instead, they’re based on the beliefs and behaviors of our parents, peers, teachers, and other influences in our environment. To acquire a limiting core belief, we have to hear its message or experience its ramifications many times, each time feeling a relatively strong emotional response to it – usually confusion, anxiety or shame.
These experiences and imprints are collected by the subconscious, sorted according to their patterns and commonalities, and eventually assembled to form an understanding of the world and how to navigate in it. Just like we assemble the seemingly unrelated pieces of a jigsaw puzzle to reveal the whole picture, our subconscious takes the pieces of information it has available to form a picture of our reality that explains the past, helps us function in the present, and predicts the future. As these pieces are put together, core beliefs are formed.
Let’s say you believe that you’re not good enough and that most people around you are more capable, more successful, more likeable―you name it. No matter what you’re planning to do, you assume, at least subconsciously, that the outcomes of your actions will only confirm that you’re not good enough. Not only will you pursue your plans with less energy, confidence, and focus, but your subconscious mind will also filter and interpret the results of your actions according to the limiting belief that you are, once again, inadequate. Consequently, you will feel even more insecure, anxious, and deflated, which further drives the “I’m not good enough” belief and so increases its validity and realness to you. Through this self-reinforcing cycle, a limiting belief becomes your identity.
To let go of any limiting belief, you need to release your attachments to your old identity. It may seem safe, or at least familiar, to believe that you’re not good enough or that you’re unable to change. But the truth is, as long as you’re invested in the idea that these beliefs determine who you are, your inner foundation remains very fragile and the size of your world confined and limited.
But as you already know, just letting go of what no longer serves you isn’t enough. You need to replace your old beliefs and identity with a new, empowered version of self.
You can argue that by letting go of fear and anxiety you’ve retired from an old identity; therefore, you might be prone to facing a similar crisis. So this chapter and the next provide you with all you need to establish a solid foundation for your new you. Rebuilding is actually the fun part, because you can choose who and how you want to be now that you’ve grown up―or maybe, more aptly put, outgrown your self-limiting identity.