Friday, August 14th, 2020

R Relationships by Dr. Bill Austin
Core beliefs


Comedian Tommy Smothers did a skit about the impact of negative and toxic messages we get about ourselves. In the first scene, he is holding a grocery bag while playing. From the side of the room, he hears statements about what he is doing. Each time he hears a message, he puts it into his personal grocery bag. One of the messages he hears is, "Tommy, you are lazy.  How many times do I have to tell you to clean your room?" As children do, Tommy internalizes the statements and believes they describe who he is.  In the next scene, Tommy is older. When he hears a positive message ("Tommy, you did a great job on this.") he rejects it by bringing out a contradicting message from his bag. He rejects any message that doesn't agree with the ones in his bag.

The skit illustrates that there is something in us that keeps a certain self image alive - either by doing the things that reaffirm the beliefs we have about ourselves and/or by discounting the messages that do not agree with the ones in the bag.

The messages we received while growing up often turn into what are called "core beliefs."  We view them as truths about who we are and what we are capable of doing, and they can hinder or enhance our relationships. They can keep us from taking risks or they can launch us into new adventures.

Before we continue with this series on how our self-beliefs  hinder or empower us, I would like to share the reading that follows. If we practiced this with our children and each other, we would have better core beliefs. 


  Wouldn't this old world be better
  If folks we meet would say:
  I know something good about you
  And then treat us just that way!

  Wouldn't it be fine and dandy
  If each hand-clasp warm and true,
  Carried with it this assurance
  I know something good about you!

  Wouldn't things here be more pleasant
  If the good that's in us all,
  Were the only things about us,
  That folks bothered to recall!

  Wouldn't life be lots more happy
  If we'd praise the good we see!
  For there's such a lot of goodness
  In the worst of you and me.

  Wouldn't it be nice to practice
  This fine way of thinking too:
  You know something good about me,
  I know something good about you!
                - Louis C. Shimon

Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through

Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700