I’ve chosen to write about mindset because of the parallel between the fact that autoimmune conditions result from our immune system mistakenly attacking our body, and the fact that our own thoughts sometimes attack our mind.
Time and time again, my clients see the benefits of adopting mindset management techniques to minimise the risk of derailment by way of negative self-talk and counterproductive mindsets.
Let me quote Einstein here to set the scene. He said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing that it is stupid.”
The simple fact is that if you take control of the way you approach life from the point of view of what goes on in your mind, you’ll experience much more joy.
You’ll experience more peace of mind; you’ll improve your health, your relationships, and your prospects of a happy and healthy future.
It seems to me that the confluence of the educational systems that most of us come through, the families most of us are brought up in, and more generally the world we live in, sets us up to struggle with the kind of crazy reference points Einstein mentioned.
The upside here is that the ball is in our court in terms of deciding how we respond to the kinds of cultural/psychological undercurrents that we’ll experience in one way or other as we move through our life.
Mindset Management Is Key In Improving So Many Things
Taking the time to look under the hood and see what’s going on in our mind on a day to day basis takes us a long way toward being able to avoid wasting time on mindless thoughts and actions that can generate a lot of stress, and even spiral out of control into obsessions or addictions if the conditions are right for those conditions to take hold.
The exercise at the end of this article invites you to unearth some of the negative beliefs that might be sitting in the unconscious part of your mind.
Negative beliefs are very good at filtering experiences in a way that only lets us see the ways in which we are ‘not’ good enough. ‘Not good enough’ thinking or imposter syndrome as it sometimes manifests itself, is incredibly common.
It’s perverse really. I see clients who’ve achieved fabulous things but still manage to worry about being ‘found out’.
It seems that the prospect of being made to feel inadequate in general and stupid in particular, are among the biggest fears we harbour. What’s more, they’re being harboured by some of the smartest people I know.
The bottom line is that worrying about being a fish that can’t climb a tree is an exercise in futility and a license to be miserable.
With effort and focus, I was personally able to swap that kind of license for one that cleared the way for me to be, for the most part, happy and well.
The strategies around mindfulness and mindset management that I used, as I was going through a period of burnout recently, helped me to breathe life into my future.
Gaining an awareness of what was being played out on a psychological and emotional level enabled me to metaphorically and practically come up for air.
If you don’t take the initiative to manage what goes on in your mind, you’ll find that your mind manages you with its default programs. One of these default programs involves compulsively thinking.
Another one adds in automatic negative thoughts that seem to spring up out of nowhere. ‘Not good enough’ thinking is a great example of this.
The fact is that without strategies to keep a perspective on things and manage our mindset, we can find ourselves resorting to tactics like blame, justification, numbing, and denial to avoid dealing with the hard truths that are holding us back.
These habits of mind along with things like perfectionism are particularly limiting frameworks that keep us cycling around our problems without making any ground in terms of transcending them. I love Brené Brown’s work on shame and vulnerability.
Her take on perfectionism is that rather than it driving us toward being better, it’s actually just shame wearing a disguise. ‘Not good enough’ is the language of shame that leaves us feeling as if there is something wrong with us at our core.
Furthermore, a tendency to generalise when we’re feeling down can take the idea – ‘I’m not good enough’, and turn it into ‘I’ll never be good enough’, and ‘I’m no good at anything’.
Another thing that keeps us stuck is compulsively ‘doing’, rather than ‘being’. Never slowing down to feel, and to check in with our body to find out what’s real.
Starting to experience life on the level of feeling rather than just experiencing it at the level of thinking was a real game changer for me. I now know that one of the keys to wellbeing is to regularly feel into my body for clues about what’s really going on.
I invite you to pause now and take a moment to feel into your body, to take a snapshot of the tone of your current mindset via answering the questions below.
To prepare yourself for this, exercise just sit comfortably and take three long breaths. Notice any tension in your body.
Then notice what happens to that tension as you ask yourself the following questions.
- Where am I applying perfectionism in my life?
- How do I feel about that aspect of my life right now?
- In what ways am I doing really well in this aspect of my life right now?
- In which other areas of my life am I doing really well?
- What drains my energy?
- What could I do to limit this drainage?
- How do I show myself respect?
- How else could I show myself respect?
- How easy or hard have I made it to feel good?
- What could I do to make it easier to feel good?
- When do I numb myself?
- How do I numb myself?
- What has numbing myself cost me so far in my life?
- What could I replace this behavior with?
- What do I say to myself when I’ve made a mistake?
- What’s a more empowering thing I could say?
- What do I say to myself when I’m tired?
- What’s a more compassionate thing I could say?
- What things could I do to cultivate more self-compassion?
Adopting practices that involve deliberately checking in with your body, and developing awareness of what’s going on in your mind, will set you up for a more peaceful and joyful existence than you would otherwise have. Believe me – it’s worth the effort.
You can find much more information on living a holistic lifestyle in these free magazines and on our YouTube channel.
Jane Turner – Woman’s Health Expert