Do you wake up sure the day is going to be dreadful? That it's going to suck no matter what? Do you think that you're not smart enough, strong enough, brave enough to do that thing? Then you may be in need of a mindset overhaul. One of the greatest roadblocks I have found with my clients are their negative perceptions.
Many times the something that is standing in their way of achieving greatness is the way they are thinking about the situation; they've made up their mind and that's that. Whether it’s better physical health, eating better, getting enough sleep, tending to their relationships, etc., they hold onto a specific mentality of WHY they can’t do something. This can be a challenge because some mindsets are so ingrained into a person that they’ve shaped their entire lives around their personal beliefs and thoughts. At some point, these thoughts drag the person down, keeping them from taking that next step and stifling them into inaction.
Why You Need to Change Your Mind
Think about something you REALLY want to do. Eat better? Be more physically fit? More sleep? Wake up earlier? Quit the job that doesn’t fulfill you? What’s stopping you from doing it if it’s something you sincerely care about? Is it a thought that you’re not good enough? Are there a million excuses popping into your mind about how it is just not possible? Are you holding on to absolutes like, “I will NEVER be able to wake up earlier. I’m not a morning person.” “I will never be physically fit. I hate exercise.” or how about this one, “I just can’t eat healthier… I have too much of a sweet tooth/ I love meat/ I’m a bread person/ I hate vegetables.” My favorite… “I don’t have the time.” We have all been there with the excuses. Maybe you like your excuses and you’re holding onto them tightly, ready to unleash one at a moment’s notice. Or maybe as you hear the excuses and reasoning, you get a tight knot in the pit of your stomach, knowing there has to be more. What do all of these excuses and absolutes have in common? They are all mindset issues. If you say you’re not a morning person then you will not be a morning person because you already believe it. It is so difficult to take the first steps to change towards a healthier lifestyle if your mind is stuck in the absolutes of “I can’t.”
How to change your mind
Changing your mindset can be easy or it can be difficult… depending on how you think about it ( see what I did there ;-) ). This is where a mindfulness practices comes into play. Mindfulness is one of my FAVORITE topics to work on with my clients. Why? Because it’s so effective for changing your life, including shaping your worldview into a more optimistic, can do attitude.
Imagine being able to do something daily that will benefit you on many levels- mentally, physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. When you meditate, you gain more mental clarity. It helps to calm nerves and anxiety, which is great since 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety ( see reference).
It changes your perception. You become more aware of what is going on around you. You can gain more insight into your own body and it’s reactions. For the purpose of time, I’m going to solely focus on the mental and emotional benefits of meditation, but know that there are multiple studies on the benefits of meditation for physical health. Meditation is where you mentally focus on one thing. Meditation is my go to way to stay in control of myself and my life. How? Because even the scariest thing will be not-so scary when you no longer THINK the scary thing is scary. Huh? Yeah, that was a mouthful.
Here’s some examples of how I’ve used meditation: before job interviews, when I feel anxious and “on edge.” Before tests, before childbirth, before a painful procedure at the doctor. To visualize success, to forgive someone else, to forgive myself. To ready myself for the day. To relax my muscles and rid myself of a headache. To decrease my perceived stress in my daily life. For self compassion. Really, you can use meditation for ANYTHING. There are many forms of meditations and ideas you can concentrate on. Here's a simple one, try it out for yourself.
Sit or lie down in a comfortable position and close your eyes. You begin to focus on your inhalations and exhalations and how your body feels with each inhalation and exhalation. This is where your mind focuses. You are not clearing your mind. You are simply focusing on your breathing. The air flows into your nose and down your throat, lungs, and belly. As you exhale through your mouth, notice how it feels and the sound of it. If your mind wanders, this is not a big deal, you let the thought float away. No need to make a judgment about the thought or yourself. Simply shift your focus back to your in and out breaths. You can do this for as long as you like. The longer you do it, the more relaxed you will become. I recommend at least ten minutes, but if this seems too long to sit still start small. Even 5 minutes can do wonders for you.
Affirmations are a way for you to consciously bring some positive thoughts into your life and remind yourself how great you are... whether you believe it to be true or not. I thought it was all a bunch of hooey...that is until I started doing affirmations myself and reaping their benefits. “What you choose to focus on becomes your reality.” -Jen Sincero. It can be daunting when you are trying to change in your life and negative thoughts and self-doubts creep in. This is where the affirmations come in and it comes in many forms, but here’s the main gist. You tell yourself something positive over and over again until you believe it. It's great to do when good 'ol fear comes creeping in, telling you you can't do that thing because you're not good enough, smart enough, brave enough, etc. You can say/do affirmations in writing, it could be out loud, it can be both… I like to do both of these things. There’s real power behind saying affirmations aloud. In the beginning, you may feel silly or uncomfortable, but the more you do it, the better you will feel. Your mind will start to change and you will be more apt to make a change to this new held belief about yourself.
Exercise- pick one of these thoughts or some other positive thought that you don’t believe about yourself. Write it down and say it aloud 10 times ( bonus if you look into your own eyes in the mirror while saying it).
I am worth it.
I am enough.
I deserve to make a lot of money.
I am lovable.
I am ready to receive the gifts God ( or the universe) has to give me.
I am doing the best I can.
I deserve to put my needs first.
My needs are important.
Today is going to be a great day.
I am beautiful.
I can do anything.
I am worthy of other people’s love.
My time is a priority.
My life matters.
These are just two of my favorite methods to evolve your way of thinking, becoming more mindful, and possibly become more optimistic.