Updated: Jan 6, 2021
Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and thought, “Damn, I look great today! I’m digging my outfit and my hair is on-point.”? And then a week later, you put on the same outfit, you do your hair in the same way, with one exception... You look in the mirror and you don’t see the same thing you saw a week prior. This time you see dark circles under your eyes and what looks like a new worry line taking occupancy on your forehead. Instead of thinking, “Damn, I look great today!” you think, “Damn, I look haggard and horrible. What’s with this outfit?! What was I thinking putting this thing on?” Why the difference in perceptions? Same person, same outfit. What gives?! Mindset, that’s what. We may see with our eyes but it’s our mindset that determines how we feel and what we think about what we’re seeing. Essentially, mindset is the lens we view the world through which impacts how we feel, what we believe, and what we do or don’t do. POSITIVE VS. NEGATIVE MINDSETS There is a multitude of ways to categorize mindset based on tons of research. For example, Carol Dweck author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success places mindset in two categories growth (traits and qualities can change) and fixed (traits and qualities can’t change).
When you enter a mindset, you enter a new world. In one world — the world of fixed traits — success is about proving you’re smart or talented. Validating yourself. In the other — the world of changing qualities — it’s about stretching yourself to learn something new. Developing yourself. - Carol Dweck
While Ryan Gottfredson, mental success coach and author of “Success Mindsets: Your Keys to Unlocking Greater Success in Your Life, Work & Leadership” adds these additional categories;
Open (being open to new ideas) vs. Closed (believing what is already known is best)
Promotion (actively going for goals) vs. Prevention (doing what is required and no more)
Outward (seeing others as equals) vs. Inward (seeing oneself as the most important)
While I love and appreciate the categories and the roles they play in understanding mindset, for simplicity's sake I like to use positive vs. negative when I’m identifying mindset. To me, a positive mindset is expansive, whereas a negative mindset is constricted and closed.
“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” – Napoleon Hill
With a positive mindset, we see our mistakes as an opportunity for learning, whereas with a negative mindset, we see mistakes as failures. With a positive mindset, we’re open to new ideas and opportunities and with a negative mindset, we’re more apt to stick with the known. With a positive mindset, we feel empowered and with a negative mindset, we feel deflated and defeated. With a positive mindset, our self-talk is “can do” and with a negative mindset, our inner critic screams, “can’t” or creates a negative narrative to talk us out of taking action. MY OWN DANCE WITH NEGATIVE MINDSET I’m no stranger to a negative mindset. Mine is a weaver of negative narratives conjuring up all sorts of “wicked” tales to try and talk me out of doing some pretty cool things. Like in 2005 when my negative mindset tried to convince me that I sucked as a coach and had no business coaching. Or years later when it tried to convince me that I was going to lose clients if I offered intuitive readings. The most recent narrative is all about the book that I’ve been working on, how my sharing my personal story is going to tick off some folks and how no one is going to read it, so why write it!? Here’s what I’ve come to understand as a result of dancing with my own negative mindset, I’ve got a choice when it comes to what I allow it to talk me out of. I have a choice in shifting it and how I shift it. WAYS TO SHIFT FROM A NEGATIVE TO A POSITIVE MINDSET If you take anything away from this post, I hope it’s this... a negative mindset happens. And it’s not the negative mindset that is the issue, it’s what we allow it to do that becomes the issue. So, I’d like to offer the following to experiment with. These are things that I use when I want to shift from a negative mindset to a positive one. Exercise choice. I do this by asking myself the question, “What do I choose to believe right now?” (Since my mindset impacts what I believe.) Choice takes power away from the negative mindset and puts it back with me. Seek truth. When the negative mindset creeps in and the narratives start I ask myself, “What do I know to be the truth?” or a variation of that question. The key is creating awareness around what’s fact vs. fiction because our brains can’t tell the difference without our guidance. Using the “feelers”. Because our mindset impacts how we feel and vice-versa I like to ask myself, “How do I want to feel right now?” BUT and this is a BIG BUT I don’t try and go from one feeling extreme to another because that often leads to frustration. So, if I’m feeling “meh”, for example, and I don’t want to feel “meh” I’ll choose a feeling that is incrementally better, like say, peaceful or relaxed. And then I’ll do things that’ll help me to feel peaceful or relaxed, like deep breathing exercises (Speaking of breathing exercise, there’s a cool one in the downloadable Brain Detox. Check it out; it’s free and easy to use). Shifting my feelings incrementally shifts my mindset. Which experiment will you try the next time you want to shift your mindset?