Mindset Is Typically Not Inborn! We Must Learn It!
The topics of mental chatter and mindset are very near and dear to my heart because I've struggled with them my entire life; especially amidst my journey to recover from severe chronic health challenges.
As a young kid, if something new did not come somewhat easily to me, I became frustrated and often engaged with thoughts that began with "I can't…" or "I'll never…"
As a teenager, I allowed a break-up with a guy I dated for less than six months to spiral me into the pits of despair for months -- this was a guy that no parent would ever want their daughter to date, BTW!
As a young adult in the workforce trying to find a better paying job, I had a bad habit of heading into the interview process with thoughts such as "They're not gonna like what I have to offer. I won't get this job." Then, if I was not offered the job, my thoughts turned to "Ugg! I will never find a better job," and around and around, I would go.
Fixed Versus Growth Mindset
Instead of viewing challenge and hardship as opportunities to grow, learn, and improve, I considered them as failures and a reason to contract, give up, or retreat. I also allowed them to define me, which perpetuated an underlying belief of "I am not good enough."
This belief is most often the underpinning of perfectionism -- which is a very draining state of being that regularly contributes to a myriad of health and life challenges for many people. You can read more about the role that perfectionism plays in chronic illness here.
As an adult, within my teaching career, I would often spend hours, late into the night creating a single class lesson, and then lay in bed and worry that it would not be good enough. I would often wake up extra early to make changes to it and then scrutinize it more after presenting it. This was beyond draining, and I operated this way for the majority of the 19 years I was in education.
Amidst my struggles with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the resulting life stress, I continually engaged with mental chatter along the lines of, "I will never be well, the Universe is against me, things only work out for other people, I am not deserving of good health,” and the list goes on.
Hardship Is Often Our Greatest Teacher!
It was not until after I suffered a massive physical and nervous breakdown that forced me to walk away from my teaching career after 19 years did I realize the profound influence mindset can have on both health and life success.
Not only had my perfectionist mindset and negative mental chatter throughout my life played a role in making me vulnerable to chronic illness in the first place, but it also prevented me from recovering my health -- despite monumental efforts to do so over many years.
The reason for this is because fear-based belief systems keeps us in a perpetual state of fight or flight, which leads to a continual overproduction of stress hormones.
Over time, this drains our energy reserves, causes damage at the cellular level, and lowers our vibration. In this state, we experience poor stress resilience and compromised immune function. These two factors pave the way for poor physical, mental, and emotional health.
The Winds of Change!
To restore my health and heal my life, I had no choice but to take serious measures to shift my mindset and how I showed up in the world. Please know, however, that I am NOT saying mental state alone is what causes hardship or illness or determines whether or not we recover from them.
That is a ridiculous and illogical notion. What I am saying, however, is that a growth mindset dramatically supports us and a negative mindset severely hinders us -- regardless of our end goal. And, without a supportive mental attitude, our efforts will be undermined, and our bodies and minds will become drained.
For this reason, I believe that taking control of our inner critic and cultivating calmness are two of the most critical factors in every aspect of our life -- especially recovery from illness.
I recently had a dynamic conversation with a colleague as part of a podcast interview, and together we came up with a list of our top 10 strategies for quieting mental chatter and cultivating the mindset for healing and personal success.
Though I will be publishing this podcast interview later this summer, this list is too valuable not to share with you now, so here it is!
Top 10 Strategies!
#1: Take 100% Full Responsibility For Your Healing!
When we blame factors outside of ourselves for our current circumstances and continually look to others for our answers or to "fix" us, we disempower ourselves. This leads to us into the abyss of victimhood, which then perpetuates anxiety, despair, and feeling powerless.
By shifting our perspective and saying, "Ok! Many shitty things outside of my control have happened in my lie. No doubt! But, it is up to me to heal from them. Others can be my guides and support me, but the healing is up to me!" we put ourselves in the driver's seat of our health and life!
#2: Identify Your BIG WHYS!
Lack of clarity and negative mind stories often go hand in hand. The reason for this is because a sense of purpose is critical to our wellbeing. Without it, it is challenging if not impossible, to stay focused, motivated, and hopeful.
After my collapse and my exit from my teaching career, I laid in bed for the better part of a year riddled with wretched anxiety thinking, "Now what! I have no purpose beyond being a chronically ill person. What is the point of my life?"
When I finally dug deep within myself and realized that my purpose was to heal my body and my life so that I can then teach others how to do same, things shifted dramatically for me. I began to feel hopeful, which inspired me to start focusing more on how to create wellness in my life versus fighting illness.
#3: Learn and Embrace The Formula: E + R = O!
This fantastic formula comes from my Jack Canfield Success Principles training, so I can't take credit for it! "E" stands for EVENT, "R" stands for RESPONSE, and "O" stands for OUTCOME.
What this means is that while we often do not have control over the events in our lives, we ALWAYS have control over how we choose to respond to them and our response determines the outcomes we experience.
So, when hardship comes our way, which is inevitable for all of us, we have the choice to approach it from a space of contraction or expansion. The first most often leads to becoming a victim of our circumstances, and the latter puts us in a position to learn, grow, and transform.
#4: Remove As Many Inflammatory Environmental Inputs As Possible!
Physiology and psychology have a bidirectional relationship. If our body and brain are toxic and inflamed, our beliefs and thoughts will likely follow suit. In light of this, it is critical to remove factors that drain our cellular energy reserves.
By this, I am referring to foods that inflame our guts and burden our immune systems, chemical-laden personal care, and household products that load our body with toxins, poor sleep habits that prevent us from getting the restorative rest we need, lack of or excessive exercise that puts undue stress on our bodies, and the list goes on.
#5: Add Nutrient Dense Foods & Other Health Supports That May Be Lacking In Your Life!
After removing inflammatory environmental inputs, it is now time replenish ourselves back up with a nutrient-dense, whole food diet, deep, healing sleep, nourishing daily movement, and more!
#6: Explore Aspects of Yourself and Your Life That No Longer Serve You!
For this, we all need to look at ourselves and ask, "What patterns am I continuously engaging in that are no longer serving me? What steps can I take to begin shifting these patterns in a more supportive direction?"
For me, the biggies were perfectionism, rumination, and catastrophic thinking. The three of these together had created huge roadblocks in my healing, and until I took measures to change my patterns, I remained stuck in a vicious stress-pain-illness-victimhood-anger cycle.
#7: Spend Time Exploring Who You Want To Be and How You Want To Show Up In The World!
It is human nature to focus on what we want to achieve or attain versus how we want to behave and show up in the world. My journey showed me that this is backward and does not often yield the results we desire.
The reason for this is that when we over focus on outcomes and not enough on the kind of person we need to be to achieve those outcomes, it is difficult to cultivate the habits and mindset required to reach our desired goals.
When I shifted my thoughts from:
"I want to be healthy, I want my marriage to be better, and I want to earn a good living doing work I love."
"I want to be a person that approaches life with greater calm and grace, I want to be more loving and present with my husband, and I want to be somebody that inspires and supports others on their healing journeys.",
I experienced magical shifts that I once believed would never come to fruition.
#8: Approach Yourself and The Events In Your Life With Curiosity and Acceptance!
To explain this concept, I am going to use the analogy of holding sand in one's hand. If you pick up a handful of sand (dry, powdery sand that is) and grip it tightly, much of the sand will leach out from the sides and in between your fingers.
If you hold the sand with an open and relaxed hand, however, most if not all of it will remain in your hand.
If we apply this concept to how we approach our lives, we have a similar scenario. If we approach ourselves and the events in our life with a fixed mindset and in a state of contraction, our energy drains from us quickly.
If we loosen our grip, however, and allow ourselves to soften and expand around our experiences, we hold onto more energy and award ourselves the opportunity to see a bigger picture.
From this position, we can respond to our lives with more calm and grace versus reacting out of fear and distress.
#9: Arm Yourself With an Arsenal Of Tools To Simmer The Stress Response and Better Navigate Challenges
Every creator needs a toolbox!
When I finally decided to shift out of victimhood and take 100% responsibility for my healing, I knew I needed help in navigating the roads ahead of me.
To support my journey, I began reading, listening to, and watching everything I could to arm myself with an array of tools for calming my mind and nervous system.
This is when I discovered and began regular implementation of tools such as self-coaching techniques, alternate nostril breathing, binaural beats, TRE (Trauma Release Exercises), Emotion Code, and more to help me better navigate and recover from challenging times and discouragement.
#10: Let Go of Attachment To Outcomes; Focus on Your Trajectory Rather Than Your Current Position!
Regardless of what one's current circumstances are, chronically ill, in a bad relationship/marriage, in a soul-sucking job, family issues, building a business and feeling overwhelmed, trying to write a book, and the list goes on, TRAJECTORY IS WHAT MATTERS; NOT ONE'S CURRENT POSITION!
And, one's trajectory is 100% determined by one's consistent habits.
You see, it's SO common for our minds to overemphasize the power of ONE DEFINING MOMENT and underemphasize the value of making small improvements consistently.
It’s human nature to convince ourselves that moving forward requires BIG, MONUMENTAL actions.
Because of this, we put pressure on ourselves to make some MAJOR change in a short amount of time.
Meanwhile, we stress ourselves out, set ourselves up for failure, and we lose sight of the importance of making, small, incremental, and consistent shifts!
Making steady improvements by just 05% or 1% each day (or even each week) and maintaining a growth mindset amidst inevitable setbacks is the formula for long-term, sustainable success.
Over a year, a series of 1% improvements will add up to a monumental shift!
The opposite also holds!
If we consistently engage in negative daily habits that keep us on the same trajectory or make our situation 1% worse each day or week, then by the end of the year our circumstances will be no better, or they will be worse.-
True transformation takes time! There are no quick fixes or magic wands! The more you look for short cuts, the further stuck you will become! Bottom line, the quality of our life depends on the quality of our daily habits!
And habits include how we think, behave, show up in the world, and how we respond to the events and circumstances in our lives!
I will tell you that embracing this concept has been INTEGRAL to my incredible recovery from disabling chronic illness, healing my marriage and life, and building a successful Functional Health practice!
If you’re feeling stuck in your health or life and you’d like help in navigating your own healing journey, then I invite you to book an initial free consult using the button below!