Bruce's Blog

Earliest Core Beliefs

I learned something very important this week. Sometimes we can have beliefs about how the world works and about people work and never realize there is anything wrong about them. We have them because we were one or two years old when they formed, and we stopped questioning them by the age of four. These can be all kinds of beliefs. Most hang on through life, though they are modified by later experience and learning, especially in relationships. But a few wrong ones can hang on because they are deep and personal beliefs about how the child relates to the world.

The core belief I had was a simple one: don't trust anyone. I had no faith in anyone. I had no faith that they would do what they said they would do, or that they even meant what they said. I have no idea how this belief was established, nor how early it was there, but it's always been there and has been a very bad influence on my life. I just knew that no one cared enough about me to be reliable. 

Not trusting anyone changes every interaction with others. Think about integrity. We all like to live by the principle of integrity: we do what we say. So what happens to integrity if you don't trust anyone? Mostly you don't care beyond keeping things moving smoothly along. A parent would say, "I love you," but it meant nothing to me because I didn't believe them. A girlfriend would say it, and I'd say it back, mostly because I knew I should, not because I believed that she loved me or felt that I loved her.

Finding these is a tough job. The core of my brain heard it, but since that's what I have always heard it's just the background noise of my thoughts. I knew it was there, but since it's all I ever knew, thought that was normal and that everyone had the same experience. Clearly everyone didn't have the same experience, which is why they were behaving so differently than I was. That was my first and loudest clue, by the way, seeing everyone else behave differently than I did, then concluding that I was the only sane person I knew.

I wasn't. It wasn't until I was in a good and nurturing relationship (Thanks, Becky!) that I could explore those deep crevices of my brain. I'm glad I did. It's made life mean so much more than it used to. Solved a lot of odd behaviors as I tried to mimic emotional honesty without trusting anyone.

Our moral: listen to the noise; it's telling you something important! 

Harmful Core Beliefs

I am beginning to think that ridding myself of harmful core beliefs may be trickier than I thought. 

I have a good brain, and strong reasoning powers. In the past, when I needed to change my mind, thinking about it and sleeping on it was enough. These core beliefs aren't going away so easily. I guess that's what makes them core beliefs.

I have at least organized them into two groups: one which exists primarily because of experiences with my family, and another associated with church. School doesn't have a set of negative core beliefs; those are thankfully positive.

Family: Church:
I can't be authentically and spontaneously myself          I am unloveable
I am hollow God does not care about me
Mom doesn't love me I am compliant
Dad doesn't care about me Girls don't like me
  I am ugly

I was surprised yesterday how uncomfortable I was at church. Those are bigger than I thought they were. I spent time with family and really enjoyed it, so it seemed as though the usual reason-controlled process was working. But church threw me a little. A lot. Those beliefs go a lot deeper than I thought. They will take a lot more effort to destroy, more than just writing them down, organizing them, then burning each one in the fireplace as I replaced it with a positive core belief.

I'm interested to see how I'll do it.

Again, wish me luck. I need it.

The Story of My Life

Two years ago I lived a pretty shitty life. I was unhappy, and had no idea how to change that. I was afraid of people, afraid of fun, afraid of adventure (at least with anyone around), afraid to me myself, life was full of distractions to keep me busy, and socializing was painfully awkward.

In a fit of pain after a particularly awkward exchange with a very pretty woman, I thought about my life, realized there was something broken in me, and cried out, "GOD, FIX ME!"

After two years, and exploring the Nice Guy Syndrome, and aspects of Self Esteem, I found a website run by Alain de Botton, a British philosopher. There I found a storehouse of very good advice on how to be a human. I also found out about Donald Winnicott's work, including the idea of the False Self. All kinds of recognition happened, and I began to be free. I began to date, and had fun dating some very beautiful and entertaining women. I had deep conversations about the soul and emotions and life and other things which matter. But I knew something else dark was in there; I wasn't whole.

All was not right.

I used the techniques at to simply let myself experience the pain I felt deep down but always avoided. I cried. Like a baby. I was watching Inside Out, the Disney/Pixar movie, and the dam broke. In my sobs, I cried out over and over, "I just wanted to be happy."

So here's the story of my life, as I know it now:

I formed a belief (those things deep down in my brain which gives me motivation) when I was very young that I loved my older brother Lee and he will be the leader and I would follow: I'd follow him to school, baptism, priesthood, dating, mission, love, marriage, life.

Only that didn't happen. Lee had brain damage. He didn't do those things. I waited for him, because it would hurt him if I jumped ahead. And I waited. And waited. I went to school, but had already formed my second belief: I shouldn't be happy while Lee wasn't happy.

And so I wasn't happy. And the beliefs remained intact. And I started to hate Lee because he wasn't getting on with life, and I hated my younger brother Ross because he jumped right past the both of us.

I graduated high school and college, dated unhappily, went to grad school, dated, remained unhappy, graduated, taught for 18 years, remained unhappy. I went to the desert to avoid people; my own little hermitage.

Other beliefs formed because of the first two:

I can't be authentically and spontaneously myself
I am hollow
God does not care about me
I am unloveable
I am not valuable
Mom doesn't love me
Dad doesn't care about me
Girls don't like me
I am compliant
I am ugly

Somewhere in there, early on as a preteen I think, maybe earlier, a sort of false self developed. It developed to deal with the pain, the very real emotional pain of wanting happiness in my heart and not wanting the happiness in my mind. I turned my heart off, and began to live in my mind. From then on I was doomed to a shitty life until I found my heart again, and discovered why I turned my heart off. Else I would regress and it would continue.

On the 13th of August, 2016, I discovered my false self, and my heart.

Today, on the 23rd of November 2016, I knew why. I remembered that first belief.

I need to build a new set of beliefs. It will take time, just as discovering these things took two years:

I am happy
I am awesome
God loves me
I want a loving wife
I love others
I feel alive
I have authentic joy
I want a beautiful wife
I will be a great husband
I have love, plenty to share

Wish me luck. I'll need it.

Strengths Finder Results


Your Theme Sequence report presents the 34 themes of talent, in the rank order revealed by your
responses to StrengthsFinder. Your Signature Themes, the five most dominant, are listed first.

Your Theme Sequence can be helpful to you in exploring beyond your Signature Themes. By
leveraging the themes of talent toward the top of your sequence, you can enjoy personal and career
success through consistent, near-perfect performance.

The themes toward the bottom of your sequence are likely to be less apparent in your day-to-day
behaviors. Sometimes they reflect what people don't enjoy or think about very much.

Spend some time thinking about your unique Theme Sequence and consider how your themes,
separately or in combination, impact your work and personal life.

1. Empathy
People who are especially talented in the Empathy theme can sense the feelings of other people
by imagining themselves in others’ lives or others’ situations.

2. Adaptability
People who are especially talented in the Adaptability theme prefer to “go with the flow.” They
tend to be “now” people who take things as they come and discover the future one day at a time.

3. Developer
People who are especially talented in the Developer theme recognize and cultivate the potential
in others. They spot the signs of each small improvement and derive satisfaction from these

4. Connectedness
People who are especially talented in the Connectedness theme have faith in the links between
all things. They believe there are few coincidences and that almost every event has a reason.

5. Relator
People who are especially talented in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others.
They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.

6. Woo
People who are especially talented in the Woo theme love the challenge of meeting new people
and winning them over. They derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection
with another person.

7. Intellection
People who are especially talented in the Intellection theme are characterized by their intellectual
activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions.

8. Input
People who are especially talented in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often they
like to collect and archive all kinds of information.

9. Positivity
People who are especially talented in the Positivity theme have an enthusiasm that is
contagious. They are upbeat and can get others excited about what they are going to do.

10. Learner
People who are especially talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to
continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites

11. Restorative
People who are especially talented in the Restorative theme are adept at dealing with problems.
They are good at figuring out what is wrong and resolving it.

12. Strategic
People who are especially talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed.
Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.

13. Self-Assurance
People who are especially talented in the Self-Assurance theme feel confident in their ability to
manage their own lives. They possess an inner compass that gives them confidence that their
decisions are right.

14. Ideation
People who are especially talented in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able
to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.

15. Belief
People who are especially talented in the Belief theme have certain core values that are
unchanging. Out of these values emerges a defined purpose for their life.

16. Communication
People who are especially talented in the Communication theme generally find it easy to put their
thoughts into words. They are good conversationalists and presenters.

17. Context
People who are especially talented in the Context theme enjoy thinking about the past. They
understand the present by researching its history.

18. Includer
People who are especially talented in the Includer theme are accepting of others. They show
awareness of those who feel left out, and make an effort to include them.

19. Activator
People who are especially talented in the Activator theme can make things happen by turning
thoughts into action. They are often impatient.

20. Individualization
People who are especially talented in the Individualization theme are intrigued with the unique
qualities of each person. They have a gift for figuring out how people who are different can work
together productively.

21. Responsibility
People who are especially talented in the Responsibility theme take psychological ownership of
what they say they will do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty.

22. Futuristic
People who are especially talented in the Futuristic theme are inspired by the future and what
could be. They inspire others with their visions of the future.

23. Maximizer
People who are especially talented in the Maximizer theme focus on strengths as a way to
stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into
something superb.

24. Arranger
People who are especially talented in the Arranger theme can organize, but they also have a
flexibility that complements this ability. They like to figure out how all of the pieces and resources
can be arranged for maximum productivity.

25. Competition
People who are especially talented in the Competition theme measure their progress against the
performance of others. They strive to win first place and revel in contests.

26. Discipline
People who are especially talented in the Discipline theme enjoy routine and structure. Their
world is best described by the order they create.

27. Consistency
People who are especially talented in the Consistency theme are keenly aware of the need to
treat people the same. They try to treat everyone in the world with consistency by setting up
clear rules and adhering to them.

28. Achiever
People who are especially talented in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work
hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.

29. Deliberative
People who are especially talented in the Deliberative theme are best described by the serious
care they take in making decisions or choices. They anticipate the obstacles.

30. Significance
People who are especially talented in the Significance theme want to be very important in the
eyes of others. They are independent and want to be recognized.

31. Focus
People who are especially talented in the Focus theme can take a direction, follow through, and
make the corrections necessary to stay on track. They prioritize, then act.

32. Command
People who are especially talented in the Command theme have presence. They can take
control of a situation and make decisions.

33. Harmony
People who are especially talented in the Harmony theme look for consensus. They don’t enjoy
conflict; rather, they seek areas of agreement.

34. Analytical
People who are especially talented in the Analytical theme search for reasons and causes. They
have the ability to think about all the factors that might affect a situation.

As you look through that list, you'll see some things which are surprising.

Analytical at the bottom of the list?!? I'm a scientist!

All five of my top 5 are relationship building! Whoa! 


Doki Doki

I have a game called Doki Doki Universe. It's about a robot trying to learn to be huan so it won't be melted down. A red balloon loves him.

Part of the game is a personality quiz. I just played it agian, and here is the result for me:

(Extreme) Casual: You prefer small casual groups to big ones. You have close friends.

(Extreme) Leader: You are feeling in charge. You are used to being a leader.

(Very) Baby secure: You are comfortable and secure with babies and family.

(Very) Sensitive: You're naturally empathetic and understand the feelings of others.

Romantic: You're looking for love, and attracted to the inner qualities of others.

Culture lover: You like foreign culture, and stories about people.

59% Yin (gentle and loving, creative and artistic), 41% yang (powerful and confident, analytical and logical)

5/6 Free spirit, 2/6 Realist: Artist Type, You prefer open-ended experiences to highly structured ones. Your creative mind makes you a natural artist.

4/6 Adventurous, 3/6 Careful: Energetic Adventurer, you dive right into new situations with energy and enthusiasm. You make decisions quickly and intuitively. You're a natural traveler. 

4/6 Playful, 3/6 Responsible: Shy Comedian, You have a great sense of humor but you're a bit shy and only share it with your friends. Others don't know how funny you are.

5/6 Gentle, 2/6 Strong: Gentle Giant, You are gentle and easy-going and you avoid conflict. Most others don't realize that you have unusual power.

6/6 Sweet, 1/6 Tough: Sweetheart Angel, You are truely a saint.  You're sweet and caring and nothing seems to upset you. You live to love, and you love everyone.

4/6 Confident, 3/6 Humble: Well-adjusted Ego, you are blessed with a well-balanced ego. This makes you well-suited to teaching.  Your friendships last a long time.

5/6 Romantic, 2/6  Shy: Flirtatious type, you flirt without even realizing that's what you're doing. People get crushes on you and you don't even know it.

4/6 Mellow, 3/6 Hyper: Good Listener, you can jam when you need to but mostly you move at a thoughtful pace. You are a very good listener.

6/6 Satisfied, 1/6 Rebellious: Dependable, you are very consitent and dependable. You are a rock of stability. You have a clear sense of purpose.

5/6 Extrovert, 2/6 Introvert: Outgoing, You're comfortable in groups and meet new people easily. Your  positive energy often makes you the center of attention.

6/6 Sensitive, 1/6 Celebrity: Empathetic Genius, you're highly tuned into the feelings of others. You may even be somewhat psychic. You would make an excellent counselor.

"When Nice Ain't So Nice"

Back in 1985 or 1986 I read an essay in BYU Magazine by Elouise Bell titled, "When Nice Ain't So Nice." It took me several tries before I could get through it.  It was hitting me very close to home, and made me very uncomfortable. You see, I prided myself in being a Nice Guy. You can read a later version at the link above. But there are parts I want to point out which I missed all those years ago:

"Niceness begins in the home; it is taught as a prime doctrine of the “poisonous pedagogy” Alice Miller exposes. Miller, a brilliant Swiss psychologist whose work is assuming major proportions in the field, has traced much neurosis to the philosophy, dominant throughout most of this century, that the role of the child is to be docile, obedient, and subservient to the parent, whose word is law. The “poisonous pedagogy” teaches children, in other words, to be “nice.” It demands that children not resist the status quo, not take any direct action against whatever injustices are going down. Thus it indirectly but inevitably encourages covert action, manipulation, passive-aggression, duplicity, and denial. (My mother used to say in so many words: “Be nice. Don’t argue with your father. Agree with him, and then slip out the back door and do what you want, like your brothers do.” She also said to me with a simper: “Your father is the head of the home, remember that. And I’m the neck that moves the head!” My response to such advice was often a single, very un-nice word.)"

I was struck by the similarity of the cause and effect between Niceness and the emergence, as I understand it, of the False Self.

The author goes on:

You’ve heard of the Nicene Creed, the Christian confession of faith first adopted in 325? Now hear the Nice Creed:

We believe in being Nice,
in speaking softly at all times,
even when loud objection may be
more logical;in saying nothing in
response to minor
inconveniences such as
being jostled on a bus,
or relegated to a back seat,
or not being allowed to ride at all,
or being run over by the bus;
and in saying even the most
appalling things in soft,
non-committal tones, even,
if worst comes to the worst,
in whispers.

We guard against silence as against
speaking out, for in silence is
Thought born; therefore, we
cultivate and foster small talk,
which says naught yet smothers

We believe that pleasantries are
better than truths, friendliness
better than honor, jocularity
better than Justice.

We believe that neatness is the end
of logic and cleanliness the
epitome of order.

And we most devoutly believe in
seeing nothing that is
or unpleasant.

We believe in turning the other head,
closing the other eye,
stopping the other ear,
and biting the other tongue.


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