Core Belief Engineering
By Lisa Sidorowicz, B.A., M.A., B.Ed., Certified Practitioner and Instructor
Core Belief Engineering Success Stories:
It All Began With "I Love Me"
Core Belief Engineering (CBE) is a powerful, advanced, short-term belief change technology that has been helping people lead healthier, more joy-filled lives for over twenty years. In brief, CBE re-engineers core beliefs that underlie undesirable reactions, patterns, and behaviours at the subconscious level through a gentle, highly specialized questioning process in which the client remains fully conscious. In day-long sessions spanning 4 to 8 hours, individuals identify and change subconscious belief systems and related coping strategies and defense mechanisms that are outdated and counterproductive, thus restoring harmony between the subconscious and conscious minds. This internal alignment results in expanded consciousness, more confidence, easier management of emotion, intellect, and intuition, and more self-trust, respect and love.
The catalyst to Elly Roselle's personal triumph over her twenty-year battle with anorexia and bulimia was the concept that we create our own reality and therefore can change it. This perspective inspired her to use all of the knowledge and tools she had learned in her study of the mind to try to heal herself. (Her studies included hynosis, dance therapy, Virginia Satir, Edward De Bono, Jane Roberts and Seth, The Evergreens, Huna, Fritz Perls' Gestalt therapy, Bioenergetics, Therapeutic Touch, Feldenkrais, and variations of inner dialogue and process work.) After about a year of psychological experimentation and invention, she uncovered a subconscious belief system of self-loathing that she recognized as the root of her bulimia. She knew that she had to shift this mind set to something self-validating and life-affirming. The belief she instinctively chose was "I love me." After hours of tremendous internal resistance and ironclad rationalizations for continued self-hatred, she screamed out "I LOVE ME" and broke through the prison walls of her self-destruction. She describes feeling "a complete rip in reality inside myself. It was like every part of me was hearing that. It was like being hit by a lightning bolt."
With her conscious declaration of self-love, Elly instantly shifted the previously unchallenged paradigm of bulimia that had been anchored in place by an elaborate belief system of self-hatred. From that moment on, she never had the desire to binge or purge again. Encouraged by her results, Elly spent the next couple of years conducting extensive research and experimentation on herself and others, determined to understand the psychological landscape she had unearthed. In 1984, she formalized this process and called it Core Belief Engineering. Since its inception, CBE has been refined into a gentle, respectful, holistic questioning process that re-engineers limiting beliefs and achieves consistent, long-lasting results.
To get a better understanding of what kinds of issues CBE addresses, and what kinds of results are achieved, here are three brief summaries of Core Belief Engineering success stories. Mary, a high-school teacher in her mid-forties, sought out CBE because her fear of heights was severely limiting her free movement in the world. Her fear of stairs made negotiating new places especially difficult. John, a University student, came to CBE to address his excessive self-analysis, self-doubt, and harsh self-judgment in the absence of female attention. He stated, "My self-worth is dependent on how much attention I get from women. It's the biggest issue of my life and it's wearing me out." Not only was he emotionally and mentally exhausted from the energy expended in maintaining these automatic patterns, his grades were also suffering due to the level of his distraction. John was living in fear, always trying to be perfect, always trying to please others so that other people would like him.
Jane, a free-lance illustrator in her early fifties, sought out Core Belief Engineering because of self-sabotage. She explained, "When I start something, I feel it won't work and somehow I make it not work." She could only achieve up to a certain point, then things would fall apart. Consequently, she was filled with worry and fear. She felt unable to move forward. She also described herself as being "a glass is half empty" kind of person, always focusing on the negative.
The Core Belief Engineering Belief Change Process adapts to each individual's personality and style of expression. No two processes are alike. The first step is to explore the benefits of the problem (the payoffs, perks), the disadvantages, and one's beliefs about change. For instance, when I guided Jane to ask her mind, "What is the benefit of sabotaging myself?", she was surprised at the answer that immediately popped up: "I'm safe from hurt, I don't get disappointed or rejected, and I can never fail." This paradoxical rationalization (protect Jane from failure by failing) illuminated several of Jane's limiting and contradictory beliefs: failure is the end of the world, failure is the only safe place, failure is inevitable, I'm not good enough, I can't handle emotional pain, etc. During this benefit structure process, we gently look underneath the surface and begin to identify and explore the subconscious beliefs at the root of the presenting problem. "Keeping myself small may have been my only option as a child," said Jane, "but that's not true anymore." Consciously, Jane could see beyond her outdated survival-level thinking and was determined to change her life.
After gaining a larger perspective of the issue and determining that change is truly desired, we then examine what change will mean, how it will feel, and what, if anything, will be lost. The next step is forming a contract that states specifically what the client wants to achieve in that session. Mary wanted to feel comfortable and safe at all times, especially walking up and down stairs. John wanted to be okay and strong within himself, and feel happy whether or not he is in a relationship. Jane wanted to have faith in herself and her abilities, and feel solid in her self-worth.
Core Belief Engineering views the mind as a constellation of parts, each with its own talents, abilities, and core beliefs. Inner conflict can occur when different parts contradict each other. For example, part of John was needy and dependent on other people's attention and approval, yet another part wanted to embrace independence and self-validation. This conflict left him stuck. One of the goals of CBE is to resolve these inner conflicts and restore harmony so that the whole mind can support unimpeded forward movement.
Once the contract is established, we are ready to communicate directly with the part of the subconscious that holds the key to fulfilling the contract. In Mary's case, we dialogued with the part afraid of heights. John addressed the part in charge of people-pleasing. With Jane, we dialogued with two parts: one self-critical part and another part who felt fundamentally unworthy. After establishing rapport with a part, we gently and respectfully examine its beliefs, decisions, strategies, triggers, tapes, etc. During this section of the process, in which the answers are reported directly from the subconscious, people gain understanding about why they behave the way they do, where and how their patterns originated, and how their part has been trying to help them. Updating the part to the Conscious Mind's current age, life situation, wisdom, and desire to change is essential, as oftentimes parts that are formed in early childhood get frozen in time, stubbornly and faithfully replicating outdated beliefs and strategies.
The next step in this non-linear process is the Psychic Emotive Release, a gentle clearing of the limiting energies, beliefs, programs and conditioning the client subconsciously absorbed or inherited from other people, parents, culture, society, the media, siblings, classmates, teachers, etc. This liberating experience unites the client with his or her own, pure natural energy, impulses, and intuitions. From this perspective, the part is guided to revisit its own core state before any of the limiting beliefs and decisions were formed, before other people's conditioning was internalized. There we find the core self, one's true self, one's essence and all of the core beliefs, truths, and deepest knowings held there. This profound connection, called the Rollover, is used to dissolve and transform all of the limiting beliefs, decisions, and strategies that originated with the client. Once the part is thus re-engineered, the last step is for it to chose a new job or function, which organically emanates from the part's natural talents and abilities. Once the inner ecology of the mind is in agreement with the changes, the process is over. The original presenting problem is resolved, the limiting beliefs healed, and alignment between the subconscious and conscious minds is restored.
Mary's "topographically challenged" part shared the incident in which the original fear was created, in order show us that her fear wasn't her own. At age 4 (beyond Mary's conscious memory), she was playing with her cousins on a dock when someone pushed her into the water below. The part had her observe the experience of plunging into the water in slow-motion, showing us feelings of surprise, excitement, and delight. Mary saw the iridescent bubbles as the sun streamed down through the water. It was a serene, curious, and beautiful moment. However, as soon as her head bobbed up above the water's surface, she was bombarded by her mother's and aunts' hysterical screams of fear. She immediately internalized their trauma and absorbed their helplessness, powerlessness, and self-blame. At that moment, Mary's fear of heights was born.
In removing Mary's mother's and aunt's fears, we not only discovered her own carefree feelings and energy, but we also uncovered her mother's and grandmother's fear of heights! We brought the part back into its own clear, confident, energy and transformed all of the adopted fears, related strategies, and defense mechanisms. This illuminating process revealed that the core of Mary's fear of heights wasn't even her own!
When I first met Mary, she was pale and agitated after having climbed the flight of stairs up to my second-floor office. At the end of the process, instead of sitting down on the top step and going down one by one, as she usually would have done in that situation, she actually walked down the stairs, one hand on each railing. She just kept repeating, "Oh my God, look at me! Look what I'm doing!" all the way down. When she got to the landing, she looked up at me exhilarated and empowered. Since Mary's six hour process over four years ago, she has had no problem with heights and is now an intermediate downhill skiier, much to the delight of her husband and family.
During John's five hour process, we examined and healed layers of embedded rejection that he experienced when he was teased and viciously bullied in primary school. Part of his subconscious was formed to protect him from his classmates' shaming racist remarks and physical abuse. As he only had the limited understanding of a six-year-old mind, he accepted their comments and decided that his survival depended on fitting in and being liked: "I will be safe if I can make them like me. I am nothing if I don't have friends." John was also shocked to uncover his part's subconscious benefit of being bullied: "I have to be sick or something has to be really wrong to get love and attention from mom and dad." Being consistently rescued from bullies at school was a constant reassurance of his parents' love.
Our dialogue with John's protective, people-pleasing part revealed that it believed that he was still six years old being tormented by bullies! The part had crystallized in this desperate stance and was continuing to repeat the only protective strategies it knew. (This disconnect between a subconscious part and the Conscious Mind is very common.) After working through these painful memories of bullying, and after updating the part as to John's current age and situation, John and his protector part were guided to re-experience and reconnect to his own, pure energy before the decision to blame himself and please others was formed. At his core, he found a strong foundation of self-worth, self-validation, love and trust. From this base, we re-engineered his protector part. As its new job, the part chose to be in charge of spontaneity, enthusiasm, and self-worth.
One month later John reported being able to value and validate himself. He marveled at how much calmer and more energized he was feeling. He is now able to let things go and not take things as personally. He has stopped judging and analysing himself. Rather, he is experiencing much more joy and fun in his life. Now that John's self-worth is not determined by being in a relationship, he has decided to focus on his studies and to enjoy his friends. John feels that his CBE session was a huge turning point in his life: "I never realized how strongly my childhood pain was influencing and affecting my adult life."
Jane's eight hour process involved healing two parts. Her self-critical part's main function was to keep Jane in her place, feeling small and undeserving, so that she could never fail. It equated failure with the death of self-worth and ultimate abandonment. Ironically, the part worked diligently to protect her from failure by comparing her negatively to other people, making her suspicious when things went well, and keeping her "broken." Whenever Jane took a step forward, the part yanked her chain by reinforcing self-doubt: "Who do you think you are? Other people can; you can't!" Jane was surprised to realize that her worst creative blocks corresponded to this part's most intense activity.
Jane's second part felt intrinsically unworthy and did its best to keep her quiet, contained, and acceptable to others. In response to her father's controlling behaviour and her mother's jealousy of her self-sufficiency, the part concluded at age seven that Jane wasn't good enough, and that she needed taking care of. After further questioning, her part revealed that Jane was actually born feeling she wasn't good enough. (It is very common for babies in utero to absorb the impressions and vibrations and beliefs of parents, especially mother, into their developing nervous systems). Her part feared criticism, and believed that Jane's self-worth and intelligence were dependent on other people's positive regard. The part's only coping strategy was to escape into fantasy books and films.
Once updated, both parts embraced Jane's Conscious Mind and were eager to perform more positive, helpful roles. They discovered a deep sense of calmness and empowerment in Jane's own, natural energy. At her core, the parts were unified and felt complete and whole. After transforming all of the limiting strategies, the parts embraced their job of living freely, of just being, of reinforcing Jane's self-worth.
In our review session one month later, Jane said, "I feel like I've retrieved my sanity." She now refers to CBE as "one of the most important approaches to total health" she's come across. Her bodily aches, pains, and stiffness have given way to a sense of physical flexibility and looseness that has "just become the norm." She feels more awareness in day to day life, more steady, whole, and ready for anything. The fog with which she had been living since childhood is gone: "I have returned to myself." In the absence of worrying, Jane's life is more effortless and positive, and problems are seen as problems, nothing more. Jane described her changes as "incredible, profound, and almost miraculous."
The above case studies are indeed dramatic but not at all uncommon for Core Belief Engineering. Results are experienced after every session. Not every issue, however, is solved with one process. Most people report dramatic change and improved self-esteem within just a few sessions, while other more embedded conditions take longer. More complex issues often have different levels or layers of beliefs that need resolution. In Jane's case, her initial process strengthened her self-worth and formed a solid foundation upon which subsequent changes could take place. Her second and third process focused specifically on her beliefs about work, productivity, money, and success. We re-engineered a group of parts, including the part responsible for her creative block. Since completing these sessions, Jane has been able to move forward and achieve her personal and professional goals. She recently stated: "I feel more like myself than I ever have, and I really like who I am. Anything is possible now. I now know what it means to be the master of my own destiny!" Jane now feels she is a successful, capable force in the world, someone with the freedom and ability to create and direct her own life.
One of the reasons CBE remains on the cutting edge of therapy after twenty years is that it empowers people to reclaim their own essence. A CBE practitioner functions as a highly-trained, compassionate guide in partnership with the client. No beliefs are installed in this process. No analysis takes place. All of the deepest, truest core beliefs, all of the most powerful, transformative mind sets and knowings already exist within the client. It is just a matter of guiding them back to rediscovering and reconnecting to their own true self. When this occurs, reality shifts. The need for coping is eliminated. Once the pattern or problem is solved, it is solved. In fact, it is very common for clients to forget why they ever came to see a CBE practitioner. When reminded of their presenting problem in their follow-up review session, they often laugh: "Was that me?" This is how fully and completely their issues get resolved. Short-term and effective, CBE is an advanced journey of self-discovery and healing. And it all started with one brave woman's courage to fully embrace the belief, "I love me."
All names and identifying details have been changed to respect anonymity. Permission has been granted to share these stories.