Shifting Gears: Going From Negative to Positive Mindset
Three steps to changing your outlook.
The voices in my head were overpowering.
“You suck. You're not good enough. Who do you think you are? What are you trying to prove?”
I listened to them for years. I lowered my expectations of myself based on these critical inner voices. My Inner Critic was berating me and I was letting it win.
How did I turn my biggest adversary into my biggest supporter? I took three critical steps to changing my mindset and I began to see my world in a different way.
1. I believed in myself. I knew that my dreams could be realized.
I felt that I would not be presented with a challenge that I could not overcome or a goal that I could not achieve. It just seemed natural that if the Universe was going to present me with a perceived barrier, it would also supply me with a wrecking ball.
Finding that wrecking ball, or sometimes even a crowbar, wasn't always easy. It seemed that the harder I looked for the tools, the more difficult they were to find, but I still felt that they were there.
Sometimes the more effort we put into looking for something, the more it eludes us. Ever lose your car keys? Under stress and looking everywhere, you'll never find them, but if you slow down and let your mind relax, you'll find them in moments.
I took this approach to my goals. Instead of frantically trying to make them happen NOW, I stepped back and let them develop at the right time with the right amount of effort on my part.
All things happen in their proper time. The best thing we can do for ourselves is get out of our own way.
2. I forgave my inner voices.
I recognized them for who and what they were: internal dialogue on a repeating tape loop that actually wanted to protect me. In the mind of my inner critic, if I didn't achieve my goals, I was a failure. Being a failure was bad. By some strange logic, it followed that if I didn't try, I couldn't fail; therefore I was a success for not trying.
In the view of my Inner Critic, it was best to do nothing and just be safe. Its job was to deter me from trying to further realize and actualize my life. In its own way, it was showing me that it loved me and was trying to protect me from being harmed by my drive to grow.
Strangely, while I was listening to these voices and lowering my expectations of what my life could be, I was succeeding academically, growing into a marketing professional and finding that I did have a purpose and a true talent for finding solutions to problems.
I was often the smartest guy in the room, but in many ways saw myself as the least successful. I wondered why I wasn't achieving my goals when I had the intellect to be successful.
I was in my own way because I didn't think I could be successful in monetary terms. Programmed by years of messages of lack, messages of hard work not paying off, messages of only cheaters getting ahead, I picked a path that allowed me to maintain my morals yet I was financially challenged.
It was a classic false dichotomy: Be honest or be prosperous. I could not find a way to be moral/ethical and wildly successful financially. I was acting out the programming I had been given that said it was better to be honest than rich – and you can't have both.
When I became aware that my inner voices where echoing the phrases of my parents, I stepped back and listened more closely. I realized that they, like my parents, were just trying to protect me from failing. They wanted me to be the best person I could be. They wanted me to be safe. Their desire for my safety came from love.
Once I realized that key element, I knew that my inner voices were not berating me to hurt me and make me feel badly; they were trying, in their own strange, critical way, to make me better. That outlook I could accept from a position of strength and feel empowered to move forward to manifest thelife that I dreamed of living.
If you are having a hard time conceptualizing this process for yourself, ask yourself this question: “Would my parents want me to be a failure or would they want me to succeed in life?” Just because they may have been critical does not mean that they wanted you to fail or stop growing. They just wanted you to be safe because that's their job.
Forgive those critical inner voices. Look at them with love and tell them, “If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.”
Remind them that your life, your path in this life is yours to choose. You choose it with or without their support. Lovingly tell them that their views are not your views and they have no place. Thank them for their advice and move on with your life.
Or, if you're like me, drop an F-bomb on them when they act up.
3. I learned a key phrase that changed my outlook on life
“What did I learn from this?”
One of the most powerful phrases that I have learned to apply to my life came from a lawyer. He saw that I was doubting myself and beating myself up for perceived failures.
He told me a story about how he learned to re-frame his perceived defeats. Instead of beating himself up over a lost trial, he framed the situation as an opportunity for learning. How could he learn from this event and use that lesson to create a win the next time?
So many times, we frame a failure as a final outcome. However, in reality, so many things hinge from that event. It really isn't a final outcome at all, but just one point on a journey or in a series of events.
Free yourself to make changes. Free yourself to see your positive future possibilities. Give yourself permission to fail and feel good about it.
It means that you are trying, you are growing and you are learning. Let the process unfold and be kind to yourself.
What steps have you taken to break old belief systems that held you back? How are you going to shift your life into high gear?