1. Accept that your thinking needs adjusting – We’ve all had goals and dreams that didn’t unfold the way we hoped or expected. When this happens repeatedly, we start to wonder what we need to change. But rarely do we look inside at our own thinking as the place to start making changes.
We live in a skillset-driven society that emphasizes learning new skills and improving the ones we’re weakest at. This often fosters the belief that we need more education in order to achieve our goals. Some people go back to school, others take seminars and workshops or read books, always looking for that silver bullet skillset that will make everything fall into place.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not downplaying the value of skillsets; but more often, it’s our mindsets that need adjustment.
The good news is, it’s a lot less expensive and much faster to change your mindsets than to go learn a new skill. So step one is simply to acknowledge that you’re going to work on your mindsets first.
2. Identify your counter-mindsets – Mindsets are formed through prior experiences and emotional milestones, and the mindsets that aren’t producing the results you want are called counter-mindsets.
Some examples of these are self-doubt, limiting beliefs, and any other negative thoughts that get in the way of your fulfillment.
Around 65,000 thoughts go through our minds each day. Unfortunately, in the case of most people, the majority of them are negative. These “Automatic Negative Thoughts” (ANTs) occur so often that you’re probably not even aware of them (most of us aren’t).
All of us have different ANTs, and, without knowing it, we’re habitually allowing them to destroy our dreams. It’s hard to remain positive when that little voice is constantly spouting off and saying things like, “I can’t talk to her,” “I’m not smart enough,” “I’m out of shape,” “I’m not qualified”… yada, yada, yada.
The way to start exterminating the ANTs in your head is to begin paying attention to them. Notice when you hear that disparaging voice, and recognize how frequently it happens. More than likely, you’ll find that your limiting thoughts can be narrowed down to a few key themes. Taking note of this is a major step because we can’t change what we haven’t acknowledged.
3. Flip the switch – Once you’ve identified your top negative thoughts, you need a way to stop them from holding you back. The best technique I know for this is something I call “flip the switch,” which moves thoughts from negative to positive.
For years, every time I looked in the mirror, all I saw were my flaws. Finally, I started practicing the exact opposite reaction – flipping the switch. I’d look in the mirror and force myself to say, “You look good!”
It took some time to get used to it, but the reality is that positive thoughts and negative thoughts can’t occupy the same space, so I was giving my ANTs an eviction notice.
Another technique I find effective is called the “if/then” approach. Once you identify when your ANTs typically show up, apply a thought process that allows you to essentially think yourself past them.
Here’s an example: Say you plan to go for a walk after dinner to get more exercise, but when dinner is over, your ANT shows up. If you start to hear the voice in your head that says you’re too tired, too full, or you’ll never lose the weight anyway, then walk to the closet immediately and put on your running shoes.
Often, just taking one positive step in the right direction is enough to shut those ANTs up. Prepare yourself by creating a list of if/then statements ahead of time.
4. Understand your “why” – Changing your mindsets takes work because formed habits aren’t easy to break. This is especially true since many of our most harmful habits and counter-mindsets were established when we were kids, and we’ve been doing things the same way ever since.
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