This post is for you if you…
- Wish to manifest your dream life
- Desire to regain control of your thoughts
- Want an action plan to work with your mindset
The Purpose of this Post
I have come to realize on my personal growth journey that everything I want – all my dreams, my desires, my freedom – starts with me. As much as I would like to blame others for my current circumstances or rationalize why I am not where I want to be, there is a knowing deep within my soul that is a reminder that I, alone, am responsible for my lot in life.
From this realization comes the desire to share with you what I have learned on my journey of remembering who I really am and how I faced each hard truth that surfaced. I firmly believe that everything you truly want in life only comes after you take an honest look at yourself and your daily choices. Therefore, the purpose of my post is to show you how important your mindset is to manifesting your dream life and how the small choices you make every day impact whether you live a life of fulfillment.
Fixed vs Growth Mindset
My intention for writing this was initially to spell out all the different mindsets that you sabotage yourself with daily. I visualized coming up with fancy names for each and giving a step-by-step playbook on how to overcome each. But try as I might, I couldn’t group them into anything that made sense and soon realized that every situation I identified did not showcase a specific mindset but rather only negative thoughts.
Doing some research on this, I discovered that there really are only two types of mindsets: Fixed and Growth. They are pretty aptly named and are exactly what they sound like. Fixed Mindset is one of immovable thoughts; you know what you know and no one is going to change your mind. A Growth Mindset, on the other hand, is flowing and ever-changing; you open your mind up to the infinite possibilities available to you to view your world with a different perspective.
I don’t think I have to tell you which one you need to adopt to manifest what you want for yourself, but just in case here you go: a growth mindset is key to living a meaningful and purpose aligned life.
How Negativity Affects Your Health
Growing up, I was a worrier. I worried about everything: my grades, what people thought, making a mistake, playing poorly in a soccer game. You name it, I most likely spent hours awake at night stressing about it. I remember my father explaining to me one day exactly how my constant worrying would eventually affect my health either in the form of an ulcer or constant illness. It wasn’t until much later I understood what he was trying to tell me: your thoughts are so powerful that you manifest outcomes constantly and unless you learn how to control them, the results most likely are the very opposite of what you really wanted.
Just to show you the absolute potency of your negative thoughts, take a look at some of the recognized health effects they cause:
- Chronic stress
- Hormone imbalance
- Slow illness recovery
- Digestive issues
- Mental health distress
- Emotional health torment
- Damaged immune system
- Degenerative brain disease
- Cardiovascular problems
- Depletion of “happy” brain chemicals
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want any part of any of that.
The Origins of Negative Thinking
It’s no surprise that negative experiences have a greater impact on us than positive ones do. These are the situations we remember and dwell on the longest, opening us up to a myriad of emotions we don’t want to experience again. People are quicker to write negative reviews than positive ones and will do anything in their power to avoid the same unpleasant situation again. There is actually a scientific term for this: the negativity bias.
Our tendency to automatically gravitate to the negative is how we were trained to make sense of the world. Parents and teachers used negative reinforcement to mold us into “good” behavior under the guise of protecting us from harm. It starts as early as infanthood, when babies see facial expressions and automatically associate them with positive and negative. This negativity bias affects our entire lives: relationships, our feelings, how we react to situations, decision making and perception of others around us, just to name a few.
The good news is that it is relatively easy to take back control of your negative thoughts. All you need is the desire to do so and the motivation to make small changes every day.
First Step to Changing Your Mindset: Identify Your Negative Thoughts
You can’t overcome your negative thoughts if you don’t know you are having them, so first you must learn to identify your thinking. So this doesn’t turn into a novel, I will list some examples that will help you pick out your self-sabotaging fixed mindset so you can do something about it.
- I will be happy when…
- I have no control over my life.
- I have to control my life.
- I have to be perfect.
- Just my luck, this always happens to me.
- I have no faith it will work out for me.
- I should/shouldn’t/can’t.
- I don’t trust people.
- I don’t like people.
- There’s no point in trying, it won’t work.
- I just got lucky, it wasn’t skill.
- I’m an idiot and can’t do anything right.
- I messed up again.
- I can’t try that, I will end up dead in a ditch.
- A leopard can’t change it’s spots.
- I either can or I can’t.
- It’s their fault I am in this situation.
- It doesn’t matter that amazing thing happened. It won’t happen again for me.
- I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.
- I don’t deserve it.
- I already know what they will think.
- I can’t do what I want, what will people think?
- I am too (your word of choice here).
- I am not good enough.
- I don’t know enough.
- I don’t know what I’m doing.
- Nobody cares what I have to say.
- Everyone is just out for themselves.
How to Overcome Negative Thoughts
One thing I am not going to tell you is to just ignore your negative thoughts and only think positive. While I appreciate the “good vibes only” sentiment, the reality is that is not realistic. We are human and as I just mentioned above, are wired to automatically defer to the negative. Telling you to think positive only would be like telling your dog to drive to the store and buy groceries. Not going to happen.
You can’t pretend your negative thoughts don’t exist and expect to have a sudden shift in how you feel and perceive your world. The hard work lies in facing these thoughts head on and learning how to see them differently. Put simply, all you have to do to experience a paradigm shift is change your perspective.
Get Rid of the Shoulds
I could write an entire article just on this (and I probably will). In her book Mirror Work, Louise Hay wrote something that has stuck with me ever since I first read it years ago:
Most of us have foolish ideas about who we are and many rigid rules about how life should be lived. Let’s remove the word should from our vocabulary forever. Should is a word that makes prisoners of us. Every time we use the word should, we are making ourselves wrong or someone else wrong. We are, in effect, saying: not good enough.
This concept is one of the most life changing ideas I have experienced. Simply by recognizing how often I used the word should and questioning who made the “should rules” resulted in a drastic shift in how I viewed myself and others around me. By making this one change, throwing out the word forever, I underwent a transformation so significant that I attribute it to what set me on my current path.
I hope you see that this change did not require massive effort on my part. All I did was simply recognize the words I used and change them out for something different.
Challenge the Thought
Benjamin Hardy, PhD wrote the following in an article on Medium:
In 2005, the National Science Foundation published an article showing that the average person has between 12,000 and 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80% are negative and 95% are exactly the same repetitive thoughts as the day before.
I can’t find the original source for this article so I can’t prove it is accurate but I do think we can agree that if not, the numbers are probably not far off from the truth. You are constantly thinking. It would be almost impossible to stop a thought before it’s inception. If it is possible, I ask you to please tell me how to do it because I certainly haven’t figured it out. What I do know, however, is the key to working with your thoughts is to allow them to flow freely and do not attach yourself to the negative ones. If you recognize a thought as negative and find yourself grabbing a hold of it for dear life, that is the time to challenge it.
Question your thought as if you are the prosecuting attorney in a high profile murder trial. That negative thought is the accused murderer and your job is to get to the bottom of it’s guilt. Where did the thought come from? What happened in your life that led you to believe this way? Why are you so quick to believe it? What is the outcome if you choose to believe it? How can you view your situation in a different light?
When you start consciously identifying and categorizing your daily thoughts, you eventually will see a pattern emerge. You will start to recognize behavior patterns in how you deal with your thoughts. I suggest keeping a notebook or making notes on your phone when you begin to help you identify your own reactions. Take note of your mood, how you are feeling, what happened to trigger the thought, where you are,etc. It might take some time writing it down before you see it, but eventually you will understand that certain moods and situations instigate the negative thoughts more than others. When you do, it is important to make the conscious decision to not force positivity but rather allow your undesirable thoughts to pass through your mind without attaching yourself to them.
Picture yourself on a bridge over a small mountain stream. You are alone and lean over the railing to watch fallen leaves float underneath you and pass to the other side. The leaves are your thoughts. You see them but once they pass beneath you, you forget about them and look for another. There is no attachment to a certain leaf and you don’t stress over where that leaf is going. You simply allow it to do what it is doing: float down the river.
The most effective way to shift your focus from a cloud of negativity is to find something to be grateful for. Notice I didn’t say the easiest way, I said effective. For me, gratitude is great in theory but very hard to practice when you are consumed in a toxic spiral of negativity. Fortunately, I learned something from Abraham Hicks that made gratitude so much easier: you don’t have to be grateful for something that has upset you, you simply have to be grateful about anything.
Let me give you an example to make this a bit clearer. When I am upset with someone, it is not easy to stop mid-thought and find something I think is awesome about them. The key to gratitude is to actually believe what you are thinking, not just to say something and think you are good. So when I’m mad at my partner for whatever, all I have to do is find something that makes me feel better and for me, that thought is traveling. The thought of getting on a plane and going somewhere never fails to raise my vibration level just a bit into something that feels better than sitting in a pit of despair. And this is what gratitude is: finding a better feeling thought than your current negative one and shifting your focus. As Abraham Hicks says, all you have to do is keep reaching for the next best feeling thought and you are as good as gold.
Related Reading: 8 Guaranteed Results from Gratitude Journaling
Final Thoughts on How to Change Your Mindset
The tools to manifest the life you dream about lie within you right now. No one else can do the work for you and it is your responsibility to make the choices that lead you to freedom and fulfillment. You are presented daily with small opportunities to move towards your dream but all too often you slam the door before you give yourself the change to start. Learning to work with your mindset is the greatest tool you can give yourself and it is much easier to do than you think.
- Possess the desire to make a change
- Recognize your fixed mindset
- Change your words
- Challenge the validity of your thoughts
- Pay attention to behavior patterns
- Find the next best thought
- Practice daily
What one small change can you make today to move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset?
Proud introvert, intuitive entrepreneur, and spiritual activist. On a mission to embolden my fellow introverts to quietly change the world.