“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen”. Ralph Waldo Emerson
Have you noticed that there are some tasks or days that seem to take so much effort to get through and others that seem to pass without a hitch? Or some people that seem to breeze through life or a series of failures and setbacks that just roll off them as they glide into each new success? While others can dwell on the same problem or criticism for years at a time and never seem to move past it?
What is it that makes the difference in our outlooks?
I believe one word sums it up: mindset.
Outlook, attitude, perspective, preparation, and beliefs play a large part in forming our mindset. Our current mindset was formed from our outlook on life, attitudes, perspectives, preparation and beliefs.
Our mindset is influenced by our prior experiences and how we evaluate them, our definition of self and our assumptions about current or new situations.
Our level of awareness determines how well we can consciously filter out the internal thoughts and the external messages which work against what we hope to achieve and allows our mindset to expand.
“Once your mindset changes, everything on the outside will change along with it.”
― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
Creating a new mindset begins with seeing a new situation in relation to our past experiences and contrasting that view with the current quality of life we experience.
Identifying the gaps between the past and the present indicates our resistance points; places we are experiencing resistance toward changing something with which we are comfortable but no longer brings the desired results (and maybe never did).
As we reach a new understanding about these gaps, we also realize that we have fears surrounding each gap.
We have believed or assumed something to be true and now find that those beliefs and assumptions must be challenged.
How do you go about challenging what you have held on to for so long?
Begin by identifying one belief or assumption you are making about your current situation.
“There are two kinds of people. One kind, you can just tell by looking at them at what point they congealed into their final selves. It might be a very nice self, but you know you can expect no more surprises from it. Whereas, the other kind keep moving, changing… They are fluid. They keep moving forward and making new trysts with life, and the motion of it keeps them young. In my opinion, they are the only people who are still alive. You must be constantly on your guard against congealing.”
― Gail Godwin
Examples of Positive and Negative Thought Patterns
For example, Jacob is a successful manager in a large corporation. He has always excelled and is seen as a leader. Jacob has been offered a position running a brand new division.
Although he is very excited, he is petrified that he will fail. He has always built his successes around the lower standards of others.
He isn’t convinced that he can begin with setting new standards and achieve the same level of success.
Marguerite is a middle manager in an accounting firm. She has eagerly taken on assignments that no one else wants.
She works hard and is always productive, despite an increasing workload. She has poured much of herself into her job.
She is worn out and is eager for a change. She dreams of starting her own business and knows her business sense will come in handy.
She worries that she will not have enough financial security to support her family. She now dreads going to work every day.
What beliefs or assumptions are holding Jacob and Marguerite back from realizing their potential?
Jacob may believe or assume:
-Failure is to be avoided at all costs. It is not an option.
-He is expected to perform flawlessly.
-He has no confidence he can take on something new; he only knows how to make current situations better.
-He has no skills that will translate to this new position.
-He will discover who he really is.
Marguerite may have these challenges:
-She believes she has to be the only “caretaker” at home and at work.
-People view her as a hard worker, not a business owner.
-She will have to count on herself as well as others.
-She will have to learn to delegate and give up some control.
-She assumes her family cannot get along without her at the helm.
-She doesn’t see that putting herself first benefits the whole family.
– She is afraid of what she may actually be capable of.
“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world”. Arthur Schopenhauer
Both Jacob and Marguerite are viewing the current situation based on prior experiences, which may or may not be similar to their current situation.
Many times we experience something earlier in life and hold on to that experience as a reference when the same feelings come up again.
Jacob finds it easy to analyze a situation and see beneficial changes. He has never experienced that same feeling when he tried something brand new. He therefore assumes he can’t succeed at creating something new.
Marguerite has always received immense pleasure out of helping others achieve their own success. She sees potential in every one around her and finds herself measuring her success according to what others accomplish.
Jacob and Marguerite are like many of us.
We feel we are best at what we are comfortable doing. When faced with a new choice, we automatically compare what we assume the new experience will be to our prior experiences.
If we can learn to then ask the question, “How do I know this is true?” we begin to increase our awareness about how we are making decisions.
Awareness then provides the opportunity to see where the resistance is coming from and to take a more informed approach.
Past experiences can be a valuable tool in decision making as long as the variables are the same.
We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success. We often discover what will do, by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery. Samuel Sales
Consciously Choosing our Mindset
Contemplate for a moment what you focused on this morning.
Were you thinking about how tired you feel or wondering if traffic will be heavy on the drive to work, or maybe you were dreading the weather or your doctor’s appointment?
What you find yourself thinking about first thing upon waking and how you are thinking about it make a difference as to how your day will progress.
“We tend to live up to our expectations”. Earl Nightingale
We all choose the perspectives we embrace and where we focus our attention.
Those that choose to focus on what positive changes have resulted from difficult situations have a better chance of moving through the changes with less friction or resistance.
The few that see things through a closed mindset will undoubtedly feel anger, resentment, injustice, fear and possibly confusion.
Where you focus your attention is completely up to you.
As we sharpen our awareness of how thoughts and words affect us, we can learn how to channel our thoughts or reactions towards a more powerful outcome.
Can you catch yourself sometimes thinking unproductive things like, “Boy, was that stupid! How dumb can I be?”
When you notice you are having negative thoughts about yourself, another person or an event, stop those thoughts and begin thinking more productive thoughts.
“Men imagine that thought can be kept secret, but it cannot; it rapidly crystallizes into habit, and habit solidifies into circumstance”. James Allen
By increasing our awareness of words and messages around us, we create the opportunity to change our mindset to better match our goals.
As our mindset changes, so will the experiences we have. Our mindset, or state of mind, focuses how we hear, see, feel and act.
As the awareness of our mindset increases, we can learn to focus better and as a result, we can get better results.
One of the easiest ways to consciously refocus your mindset is to change the language you use.
With the use of more powerful language, the way people interact with you will change and the people who interact with you will change.
Do you sabotage your efforts by qualifying what you say?
Experiment with using more powerful words to describe something you want to accomplish by replacing these words or phrases (or others like them): try, have to, doubt, can’t, never, take forever, too hard, don’t want, think, maybe.
Practice recognizing qualifying language by circling “suspect” words in the following sentences:
- The only experience I have to offer is from a long time ago.
- I am not really good at this yet.
- I’m feeling better today.
- I’ll try to find out.
- I am not sure if I can attend.
- It’s not like I intend to hurt anyone; I just say it like it is.
- I just never have been able to stay organized.
- I plan to be famous one day.
- I wish I had more time.
- I meant to follow up; I just haven’t yet.
- I have been so busy I haven’t been able to get anything done.
- I usually pay attention to detail.
The ability to re-frame these statements indicates that you are beginning to develop a new mindset.
But remember, just like a gardener who sows seeds, you have to tend to the new mindset in order for it to grow.
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