Belief Systems Therapy

        In 1987, I was Chaplain at the Salvation Army adult rehab center, while I was attending Seminary. I began to see how shame and addiction were closely related and that the shame was connected to a series of negative self beliefs within individuals. I began to search the Scripture to find out what the Bible had to say about who we are as human beings.

        What I discovered was that God had Blessed human beings, called persons and creation Good, and had intimate knowledge of who we are at our core, that God Knows us, and that we are Loved by God. When I began to discuss in educational classes as Chaplain with folks who were struggling with addictions, that persons were Blessed, Known, Good, and Loved at the core of their being, I expected that this news would be good news, and well received. To my surprise, the men  listening resisted the belief that they are Blessed, Known, Good, and Loved, and this began my quest to understand this resistence: how is this resistence maintained and reinforced?

        I began to explore how we store our memories in our imaginations, and the emotions connected to the images of our stories. I discovered that our memories are structured in such a way that they maintain self belief systems. I developed a process of identifying the origins of self beliefs and how they are maintained in the imagination. When the self beliefs are negative, I have found it helpful to put the negative self beliefs in dialogue with positive self beliefs from scripture. The idea of being Blessed carries with it the notion of being welcomed, welcomed into creation, welcomed into your living room, welcomed into relationships. The idea of being Known the notion of being emotionally safe. The idea of being Good carries with it the notion of being confident and adequate. And the idea of being Loved carries with it the notion of "I am lovable." I found that these four categories contained the negative self beliefs that people internalized from their childhood. They were anchored in the sense of not being welcomed, not being emotionally and physically safe, not being confident and feeling inadequate, and not lovable.

        I then created a method to work through the negative self beliefs, and to claim the positive self beliefs that are congruent with persons' being Blessed, Known, Good, and Loved. At first I did this in workshops and have since developed several workbooks to help guide people through this process.

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