When we fall short of our goals, it’s easy to say things like, “I’m just not cut out to do this job,” or “I’ll never be smart enough to do the things I want to do.” These totalising views are part of your overall mindset, and whether you realise it or not, your attitude towards life plays a huge role in your success. If you find negativity constantly creeping into your daily thoughts, it may be time for a mindset shift. With some focused thought and a desire to change, you can give your mentality a makeover.
What is a mindset and why is it so important?
Your mindset is essentially the set of beliefs that you have about yourself and the world around you. Put another way, it is your own personal way of understanding how the world works and how you fit into it. If your mindset makes all of the “rules” about how you fit into the world, you can understand why it is so important: it helps you set your own goals based on what you believe about your potential. If you have a positive, goal-oriented mindset, you will structure your life accordingly. If, on the other hand, your way of thinking revolves around your lack of worth or ability, you will not seek out opportunities for growth or success.
How do you know when you need to change?
Experiencing thoughts of negativity or self-doubt is the most obvious indication that a mentality shift is in order. However, there may be more subtle clues that your own attitude is holding you back.
For instance, when was the last time that you thought about your goals? Have you stopped setting new goals for yourself? If you picture yourself five years from now, is anything different about your life? If you have reached a point of complacency or hopelessness about your ability to continue growing and achieving, then it may be time to refashion the way you think about yourself and the world around you.
How do you actually alter your mentality?
Changing your mentality involves the slow, sustained attention to the world that you build within your mind. Here are a few tips on making this process work for you:
Desire a change. The most important step in altering your mindset is to truly desire a new way of living and thinking. Desire is more than about simply wanting things to be different, however—you must also be willing to do the necessary work to change your way of thinking.
Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is a practice of nonjudgmental attention to your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Before you can make any changes to your inner world, you must first understand what state that inner world is currently in. Pay attention to the types of thoughts you have throughout the day about yourself, your self-worth, and your abilities. Mindfulness is not about chastising yourself for having negative thoughts; it is about taking stock of your own feelings and reactions so that you can identify areas that you would like to change. Consider keeping a journal to track events or situations that trigger negative thoughts and when negative thoughts tend to creep into your larger awareness.
Have a clear picture of the version of yourself that you want to be. Once you have devoted some time to mindfulness and self-attention, the next step is to start visualising yourself with a different mindset. If negative thoughts creep in, acknowledge them and then let them go. Focus instead on the attitude that you want to have — one that establishes realistic but challenging goals and spurs you on to grow and succeed. This process requires patience and self-love, and you should expect some setbacks along the way.
Consider mantras or personal catchphrases. Many people find it useful to create specific mantras or catchphrases as reminders of their goals. It can be unexpectedly powerful to write down a meaningful phrase or quote on a piece of paper that you can carry with you and take out to re-read during difficult moments. Your mantra should be something that has personal meaning for you and encourages you to keep going. It could be something as simple as “I am good” or “Always move forward”.
Shifting your mentality is a gradual process that takes time to implement. Although there will be moments or days when you find yourself resorting to old thought patterns, these setbacks are not failures. The goal is not to eradicate negative thoughts altogether; the goal is to adjust your framework for viewing yourself and the world around you. With patience and practice, you will eventually break away from your old patterns and discover a new version of yourself.
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