GUEST BLOG: THE POWER OF A POSITIVE MINDSET BY LISA CYBANIAK
It seems everyone is boasting how having a positive mindset is benefiting their life. But, what does that mean, and how do you do it?
Many people think to have a positive mindset means they have to always be super happy and excited about life, NO MATTER WHAT.
Other emotions, like anger, sadness, frustration and anxiousness are thought to be emotions to avoid at all costs; that if you feel these ‘negative’ emotions, you’re a negative person. Personally, I believe that having a positive mindset is NOT about always feeling positive. Rather, it is about acknowledging and honouring all emotions and feelings, whilst having the skills to turn the tables and seek the opportunity in all our experiences.
WHY work towards a positive mindset?
According to Raj Raghunathan in Psychology Today, up to 70% of our mental chatter is negative! He believes this is down to two very important factors:
- It’s a defense mechanism, protecting and preparing us for any possibility. That way, when something goes wrong, we are not devastated by it.
- It’s a reflection of our deepest self-beliefs.
I’m a huge believer in how our deeply rooted beliefs about ourselves, life in general, and everything in between, govern every decision we make. Every time we catch ourselves saying something like, ‘It’s not going to work out anyway, why bother trying?’, what we’re really saying is, ‘I’m not good enough; I’m not worthy; I don’t deserve happiness or success; I’m afraid of failure; I’m afraid of success; I am not in control’. Until these belief systems are acknowledged and challenged, change will be difficult.
Well, it’s simple really. The very act of anticipating failure, causes us to generate failure! That is what we are expecting, so that is what we will choose to see. We will even go out of our way to sabotage ourselves in order to prove us right! In doing so, we limit our options and opportunities, which reinforce our fears, diminishing our self-confidence, feeding the vicious cycle.
When we experience positive thoughts and emotions, you guessed it, the opposite happens. We tend to be more open to the possibility of things working out, we open our mind to more options and opportunities, and instead of running for fear of failure, we reach out and grab those opportunities.
HOW do we make the shift?
I’m going to focus on 3 mindset shifting strategies in this blog: Re-writing the script, Positive writing, and Self-Reflection. First, we need to tackle those deeply rooted beliefs. To do this, you first need to determine what they are! You can’t fix what you don’t know is broken. Once you’ve outlined all your beliefs about what you deserve in life, you need to challenge them. I’m willing to bet that most, if not all, of your beliefs, are there because of the words or actions of someone else. How much do you trust that person? Is it worth investigating their truth?
I grew up in an abusive home, surviving 10 years of physical, psychological and sexual abuse from the ages of 2 until 12. Life was hard. My abuser told me every day that I was ugly, stupid, worthless and useless. Guess what happened? Those words, his words, became my truth. Long after I was safe from my abuser, I continued that negative mantra, abusing myself. Until one day I asked myself 3 crucial questions: ‘If he’s the last person on this planet I would ever trust, why am I trusting his words? Why am I valuing his opinion? Could he be wrong?’ I challenged each and every one of those words in my mantra and found no evidence to support any of them. The act of investigating the truth in my belief about myself, set me free and gave me the opportunity to re-write the script. To read more about my story, please click here
According to Barbara Fredrickson et al., writing about your positive experiences can generate better mood levels, cause fewer visits to health care facilities, and fewer illnesses! That belongs in the ‘why’ column! I believe a great way to accomplish this is to write out 10 things, people, or experiences you are grateful for each and every day. The goal is that you will begin to be on the lookout for them during your day, knowing you have to write about them later. Eventually, you’ll get so good at spotting them when they happen, that you will allow yourself to feel, and even express, that gratitude in the moment.
Whilst writing out your gratitude list each evening, why not reflect upon your day? Look at all aspects of your day, including your actions and reactions, the situations you found yourself in, the emotions you experienced, and the people that were part of those experiences. Yes, you can look for what you are grateful for within these, but I want you to look even deeper. Is it possible that these are opportunities to learn, grow and heal? Could they be opportunities for you to help someone else learn, grow and heal? You don’t need to know exactly what the opportunity is in order to recognize its potential. Perhaps running into your old secondary school friend in line at the supermarket was an opportunity to get an answer to a question you’ve long been asking. Who knows?
When you are able to view your experiences as opportunities, you are more likely to reach out and grab hold of them. Being on the lookout for those opportunities tells your brain that you are expecting them, which in turn causes you to begin to believe that you deserve them. That builds your confidence and allows you more freedom to challenge your limiting beliefs, one by one.
Let’s make this a 60-day challenge, shall we?!
For the next 2 months:
- Determine your limiting beliefs
- Re-write the script on each belief
- Write out 10 things, people or experiences you are grateful for, every day
- Self-reflect on your day, every day, to spot the opportunities
Shifting your mindset is possible, and it is worth doing!