Most people begin their journey into low self-confidence in their childhood. Our early environments affect us deeply, and we take in the messages we receive. As we hear these same messages over and over again, they take shape in our minds, and over time they form our core beliefs about ourselves.

What Core Beliefs Are

Your core beliefs can be formed by the messages you hear from many people - your parents, other adults in your life, and other children you are around, including your brothers and sisters, your cousins, your neighbors, your playmates, and your schoolmates.

You may hear a different set of messages from any of these people. Those with low self-confidence consistently hear derogatory messages from at least one group of people. You can hear or experience something that you think is the truth because it comes from someone you respect. Then you start to believe it. Then it becomes the knowledge within yourself about yourself.

Messages from Childhood Lead to Core Beliefs

Here is what children experience that form their core beliefs, with what children with high self-confidence experience first, then what children with low self-confidence experience second:

High Self-Confidence -- Low Self-Confidence

Being praised -- Being severely criticized

Being spoken to in a respectful manner -- Being screamed at, being ordered around

Given attention, kisses and hugs -- Being spanked and beaten

Having close friends they can trust -- Being ridiculed or teased by other children

Being listened to -- Being ignored

Experiencing success in school or sports -- Experiencing failures in school or sports

Being told that failed experiences happen on occasion to everyone -- Being told that failed experiences are a failure of their whole self

Being told that effort over time produces results, so obstacles are accepted -- Being told that destiny or luck produce results, so helplessness is the outcome

Being given high and realistic expectations -- Being given high but unattainable expectations

Children then hear an inner voice that constantly repeats these original messages. As children grow into adolescents and then adults, this inner voice continues.

For people with high self-confidence, their inner voice repeats messages that are positive, reassuring and uplifting. They are resilient even when they make mistakes because they have learned positive ways to interpret reality, constructive ways to explain difficulty to themselves, and positive ways of interpreting events that happen differently than they had hoped.


Look at the chart above and write in your notebook on one page all the things you remember that were done in your family that helped you develop healthy self-confidence. Then write down on another page all the things you remember that led to low self-confidence. Which list is longer? Write down which experiences had the greatest impact and what those impacts were.

Don’t fall into the trap of blaming your parents or other people from your past. If you find fault with others instead of taking responsibility for your own life, you’ll wait for others to change. That’s not going to happen! The change must come from within you.

Your Core Beliefs Affect Your Life

Your core beliefs determine how you see yourself and how you deal with life. They affect how you perceive what others are doing, how you expect others to behave toward you, how you react to other people’s words and actions, and how you treat yourself and others.

It doesn’t matter whether your beliefs are true or not. You accept what others said and created a picture of yourself based on what you heard. This picture is the foundation of your mental programming that directs you today.

Not only can your core beliefs be from hearing what others say. They can be formed from observing something, people acting in certain ways toward you, something you read, or something you see on television. Your strongest core beliefs are formed by personal experiences that contain a lot of emotion, either painful or pleasurable, and the ones that occur frequently.

For example, when your younger brother or sister was born, your parents may have spent a lot of time with your sibling. All of a sudden, they’re not giving you the attention you once had. You concluded as a very young child that you did something wrong to make them not give you attention, that you weren’t worthy of your parents’ love anymore.

So you may have grown into wanting to please other people all the time so you would get their approval, or you may try to stay as small as possible so there’s no chance you can be hurt when other people don’t give you their attention.

Perhaps your parents were divorced when you were a child. Like many children, you may have concluded that their divorce was your fault. If only you had been good enough, the family would have stayed together. You and you alone were the source of your parents’ divorce.

These core beliefs then saturate everything in your life – how you feel, how you act, how you speak. They also are so deep within you that they affect what you think.

But don’t despair. Once you’re conscious of your core beliefs, you’ll be able to intentionally decide whether to keep them or discard them. You can create your own new core beliefs that are positive and life-enhancing.

Author's Bio: 

Vivian Harte is the co-author of Self-Esteem for Dummies in the Dummies series. She has helped over 15,000 people learn and use assertiveness skills during the last 17 years. She teaches online classes on assertiveness, self-confidence, and teamwork. She has a Bachelors degree in Sociology and a Masters degree in Public Administration. She taught college classes for many years in Tucson, Arizona. She has two grown children who are both successful. She lives in Tucson with her husband, three dogs and two cats.

She offers several online courses and e-books as well as coaching, and you can find out more about these at her website Discover how to change your thoughts into positive and uplifting self-talk. It's time for a change!