Let’s first talk about what managing your mindset isn’t. It isn’t positive thinking. In fact I would like you to consider that positive thinking on its own doesn’t work.
Just imagine the “Glass Half Full” scenario. Set an empty glass in front of you. Now imagine thinking positively: “This glass is full”. Take a look. The glass is still empty. Let’s try again. This time think positively “The glass is half-full.” Take another look. The glass is still empty!
Another way to look at this is to think about painting the rust on a car. What happens if you just slap paint over a rusty bumper? It doesn’t work. The new paint bubbles up and flakes off. The rust shows through because the rust wasn’t dealt with before the paint was applied. Adopting the attitude of just thinking positive, works in much the same way. If you don’t first examine and deal with your disempowering thoughts, they will bubble up through your positive thinking. Those disempowering thoughts will end up determining your actions or lack of actions.
When we don’t manage our thoughts (mindset), we can end up feeling: confused, frustrated, overwhelmed, anxious, discouraged, depressed, maybe even like we aren’t good enough or we are failing. When we let our disempowering thoughts run the show, we may want to comfort ourselves by overeating, over-drinking, over-drugging, over-spending, gambling, or zoning out with TV or social media. We can even let our temper get the best of us and act out in anger.
The problem is most of us believe that:
- Our thoughts are actually facts. They aren’t.
- That what happens to us or what is going on around us is what causes how we think and feel. This is not true.
Does the weather make us feel happy or sad? No. It is our thoughts about the weather that determines how we feel. Maybe sunshine makes you happy while other people really enjoy the rain.
More importantly is how your thoughts and feelings (mindset) affect you moment by moment, day by day. Have you ever noticed that it seems like some people are always on fire? They move from one success to another. While some people struggle and go from being knocked down to getting up only to be knocked down again. And there are still others whose success runs hot and cold. Their ability to create desired results is inconsistent. Of course, strategy, skill, technique and persistence are also important. But at the base of all of this is your mindset. Only working on strategy, skill, technique and persistence is like building a house without a foundation. The house will fall down. Without a strong mindset foundation, the results you create will be hit and missed at best.
Here’s the good news: you can manage your mindset! You have the power to choose which thoughts you think and what feelings are serving you. You can begin by using the following basic steps to help you begin to build a strong mindset foundation:
On a blank piece of paper write the circumstance (just the facts) of something that happened. Example: The client didn’t buy my product or service.
Now write, what you made that circumstance mean. Example: People don’t want what I have to offer. There are not enough people who will buy my product or service. People don’t like me. I’m not good enough. I’m going to fail. (Or whatever your thoughts about the circumstance are.)
Now score each individual thought using a scale of 1 to 10. One means that thought hardly bothers you. Ten means you can’t imagine anything upsetting you more. Score your thoughts anywhere between 1to 10, based on how each thought makes you feel.
Pick the highest numbered thought. Ask the following questions about that thought:
- Is it true? (Answer with a yes or no)
- How do you react when you believe the thought is true?
- How do you feel when you believe that thought?
Notice these first steps of examining your thoughts are the same as removing the rust from the car. You have now created an opening for new thoughts in your mind.
Next, use your imagination and ask:
- Who would you “be” if you couldn’t think that thought? The circumstance didn’t change, but you just can’t think that thought. Example: You might be motivated, confident, self-assured, and successful.
- What would you have to think in order to feel how you want to feel? Example: What would you have to think in order to feel motivated, confident, self-assured, and successful? Examples of thoughts you might think: I am good at my work. People want to work with me. People want my product or service. I take steps every day to be successful. I am in charge of my success.
- Ask yourself do these thoughts cause you to feel the way you want to feel? Example: Do the above thoughts cause you to feel motivated, confident, self-assured, and successful? If not what is missing? Keep answering this question until you have thoughts that cause you to feel the way you want to feel.
Once you have thoughts that create the feelings you want to feel, you will be motivated to take the actions to get the results you want. But it takes practice. It is like strengthening a muscle.
You can practice your thoughts by: writing them on your bathroom mirror, putting them on a post-it note on your computer, laptop, or dashboard of your car. You can record these thoughts using the voice memo of your smartphone. Next either read these thoughts or play the voice memo several times a day.
By examining your disempower thoughts, then replacing them with empowering thoughts that you practice, you are taking steps to master your mindset. Mastering your mindset will begin to give you the power to create the life you want.