4 Signs That It's Time to Adjust Your Mindset and Approach
Ultimately, how you look at your life is what determines if it is vibrant and exciting or dark, cloudy and lacking clarity and direction. It’s also what’s going to help you crush new exciting goals or stay exactly where you are. When you are consumed with negative thoughts and beliefs, you will discover that you are unhappy with your life. You’ll find a ton of confirmation biased statements in your head that keep you right where you are. They will give you plenty of “reasons” why you are overweight, or why you can’t afford to change; "well my metabolism is screwed up because of this medication that I have to be on". "Well my spouse doesn’t help watch the kids so I can’t make time to go to the gym or cook a healthy meal". Valid reasons or excuses don’t matter eventually, your perception of the world suddenly becomes your reality.
You start to believe all these “reasons” for why you can’t do these things, and in turn you start to believe the life you want isn’t meant for you. Your self-confidence and self-esteem lowers one internal monologue session at a time, and you believe the story that you don't deserve to be happy because you can't even show up on time for XYZ, or whatever the current struggle may be - but this isn’t the case. You aren’t defined by any one moment or decision- you are a collection of them.
Changing your mindset and focus is so important because it will make a substantial difference in your life. Here are four signs that it’s time for you to change your mindset.
You Focus on Everything That’s Wrong
A sure indication that you need to shift your mindset is when you continuously fix your attention on the disappointments and worry in your life. This is a sign that your brain is wired for stress and anxiety and not opportunity. To that end it probably no longer serves your goals and aspirations in life. What it does is keep you stuck. Researchers at Penn State University asked a sample of people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder to write down everything they worried about for one month. Journaled and logged it. The study participants also recorded the outcomes of their worries. 91% of people’s worries did not come true in any capacity. For several of the people in the study, 100% of the things they worried about never actually happened, they were just stuck in pre-grooved patterns of worry that their brain used in the past. Even on those rare occasions when a person’s worry translated to reality, the outcome was often better than the person had feared, the study found.
To change this mindset, you need to take some time to develop new positive practices. One place to start is a gratitude practice. With a gratitude practice you can start searching for the good and retrain your brain to do so. Ever notice how when you buy a new car you start seeing that brand or type everywhere? Your brain knows you just spent a ton of your hard-earned money that car. Guess what it believes is really important right now? You guessed it - your car. Now instead of filtering out the car in the crowd like it used to do, now it brings your attention to the car. This is what you can do with a gratitude practice, you spend ten minutes searching for positive things and things you are grateful and write them down. If its day one it might be hard but you do that for a month and guess what, you brain is in a habit it knows it’s going to do that this evening. What is it looking for all day now? Things to be grateful for, the positive experiences that make you better. Now instead of focusing on the negative, it's focused and looking for the positive and moving you in the direction you want.
You Refuse to Face Multiple Truths or a New Truth
Complaining all the time about reality won't change anything. Always complaining about your life is your refusal to acknowledge and accept the situation as is versus how you wish it was, or refusal to believe that the opposite of what you believe may be just as true if not truer then your belief. Of course, there are some things in your life that you just won't be able to change- sorry you’re not going to be 6’0 feet tall if you're 30 years old and done growing at 5’8. Why do you desire to be 6'0 tall? Maybe the story you tell yourself about "it's not fair that John is 6’0 and that’s why he has a better job, wife, picked for the interview, friends invite him over for sports more, etc." is the source of your attachment to this unrealistic change. This refusal to see through a realistic lens results in an inability to separate fact from fiction. It does far worse than that though, it gives you permission to stay stuck. We aren’t energy wasting machines, so you fall into the trap: if it doesn’t matter what I do then I’m not going to do anything to change my current behaviors.
To create lasting change, it's time to take action around the things you do have control over, and practice acceptance around the things that are truly out of your hands.
You have to be committed to pausing in those situations where you currently complain and can only see the negative. Say for example you’re passed over for a promotion and start to hear “I’m better at this then Jenny/Johnny, they just suck up and play golf with the boss so that’s why they got the promotion”. This is a good opportunity to try on a new perspective- is there a possibility that they might actually be better at this then you? What harm does that present to your current situation to consider this possibility? Probably nothing other than the blow to your ego, which shouldn’t be the thing running the show in this case anyway. Take steps to pause when you complain or feel a complaint coming up and consider the alternative, maybe there is something of value you can use to push yourself forward to a bigger or better goal. This isn’t to say you never find yourself in a situation where your belief and truth are the same, but rather that truth is relative to each individual. You have to be willing to question yours if you want to grow and accomplish your goals, if not you harden to those views and limit your ability to accomplish your goals.
You Become Angry When Your Expectations Aren’t Met
A large part of your mindset consists of your expectations. That is, what you believe to be possible and/or necessary. If you are always angry with the people in your life because they aren't meeting your expectations, it's possible that you have either set unrealistic expectations to start with, or you’re unwilling to acknowledge that your part in the process requires a different set of expectations.
Consider this: you think it’s your trainers fault you haven’t lost the 30 lbs. you'd hoped to lose. You got a program that included fitness, nutrition, and accountability support, but you didn't reach your goal - is it actually possible that your expectations, paired with your behavior, were unrealistic? It can be incredibly difficult to view this type of situation from an unbiased vantage point, and to make an objective and honest self-assessment - but we tend to be very good at this when we're looking at someone else's behavior. Pretend you are someone else and look back! Was 30 lbs. in 8 weeks too lofty? Did you really stick to the plan and give it your all, every day? Even on the weekends? It is our expectations that lay the groundwork for our experiences, but if you have unrealistic expectations for yourself and those around you, it can be hard to find satisfaction anywhere in life. If you expect to make every shot you ever take or earn every promotion in your life faster then anyone else, you’re constantly going to be unhappy, because you’ll inevitably fall short of your expectations.
One way to work this through is to set smaller, realistic and short-term habit-based goals. Maybe your goal for this weight loss journey should be to eat twice the amount of veggies as normal, or eat out one less day a week. While not necessarily earth shattering, these types of goals can lay the foundation for continual progress that eventually leads to you a year or two from now having lost the 30 lbs., and keeping it off in your new way of life, built on fully-formed and sustainable habits.
Always Seeing Things as Done to You/Victim Mentality
When your general outlook is rooted in the belief that the "world is doing _____ to you", you are hindering your ability to change things and create a better life for yourself. It’s similar to a victim mentality; The world did this to me/I was born like this/I am just always unlucky. A great example of how this goes in your head, “I’m working hard, I’m going to the gym, and I’m eating less (1 week in) I’m a good person, I’m not dumb, I don’t need help; I just can’t lose weight! It’s got to be in my genetics, I’ve always had trouble losing weight, I was born with a bad metabolism, etc.”.
There goes your brain giving you the ol' "done to you" story. You then stop looking for honest ways to consider and learn what actually IS working for you, bringing in MORE of that while letting go of what doesn't work. Or any process that involves tweaking, adjusting, changing, pivoting, relearning, retrying, redoing, etc. Your belief that the situation is out of your hands means that it's not worth the effort to even try. You've essentially given up when you decide everything is happening to you. It is also incredibly easy with this mindset to fall into the "go it alone" strategy - that is, an unwillingness to ask for help or support, to trust the guidance and accountability that could be provided by someone else. When everything is happening to you, you reinforce the notion that there is nothing you can do to change your circumstances, but simultaneously reinforce the idea that you're the only one who can help you- you're going it alone in a losing battle. This is typically a by-product of low self-esteem or self-efficacy. If you want to change your mindset, you have to reject the role of "done to me" and start building towards "done FOR me" - so I can live or do something better in my life. Flip the script and look for the opportunity in the circumstances. Why is this done for me?
I was given a slower metabolism so... I could learn how to eat better, and teach my children better eating habits than my parents taught me.
My parents had a slower metabolism so they could survive the depression and now I need to eat less and can have a lower grocery bill than others.
In every circumstance there is an opportunity to see how situations can be working for you rather than against you. Maybe you didn't get that promotion so you could develop the skills needed for something bigger. Maybe now you have several other companies that are offering significantly more than that promotion would have because of it. Even when something REALLY feels like it was done to you, sometimes time will show you how it was actually done for you. A blessing in disguise, something we've all knowingly experienced in our lives- maybe these are happening more than you realize, maybe not. Either way, you get to choose how you think, and the best determining factor for how you feel and experience anything- the good, the bad, the ugly- is the state of your mind.
Changing your mindset isn’t easy, but it is one of the most powerful skills you can develop for yourself. By getting curious about the current landscape of your mind, observing your tendencies, and opening to new possibilities, you can take a mindset that is no longer serving you and make the necessary changes, and start utilizing your super-powered brain to crush your goals and improve your life.
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