March 4, 2024

Changing your mindset can change your life

I did a lot of thinking yesterday about how our words, mindset, and the way we think about things has such an impact on our happiness and outcomes.   Changing our mindset can change our life. I have been thrown a number of curve balls during this last 6 months and realised that I have been thinking that life is hard, painful, and sad at the moment. However there have been lots of good things happen but I have hardly noticed or registered them.  My mindset had changed  to a negative one as I haven’t been doing enough self care recently.
The thing that I have learned about the brain is that it doesn’t know what is true and what isn’t. If you think about something, it will look for things to validate and re-enforce what you are thinking. An example is if you think you are unlucky your brain will focus only on the times something unfortunate happens and not the times when things go right and so  your life will shrink. If you think you are lucky, the opposite happens and you will be braver and so your life will expand.
I was watching a news programme on YouTube about struggling families and single people on benefits. The reporter kept using words like destitution and hardship to them. A lot of what the families were having to cope with were things I did when I brought my children up alone. Washing clothes in the bath, buying second hand clothes, missing meals to feed the children are examples.  However, at the time, although things were very hard, I did not see myself as destitute.  I remember seeing it as temporary, a challenge, and not what I wanted for my children. This in turn motivated me to look for ways to change my position. If I had thought of myself as destitute and in an impossible situation with little hope of it getting better (which is how the reporter described the various people to their faces), I would have become depressed and given up. I wouldn’t have looked outside of the box for ways to thrive rather than survive. (eg. foraging or selling charity shop glass I painted at car boot stalls, getting qualifications etc). I wouldn’t have believed things would change.
Our situation isn’t any different if we try to be positive, grateful and look on the bright side, but it definitely feels different. We experience it differently as we have hope. It feels lighter rather than dark. I am intentionally trying to change my mindset to manage my grief at the moment. I have stopped focusing on losing my brother just as I got to know him, the life he will miss out on, or thinking about all the plans we made for his retirement last October that we won’t be able to do. Instead, I am trying to flip it. Every time I have a sad thought I replace it by remembering the lovely deep conversations that we had near the end. I remember his animated face as he talked about his work, travel and luxurious lifestyle. I start to plan how to have those experiences we talked about without him by my side but with him in my heart. I console myself by being grateful that we did reconnect and have that special  time together. An extra bonus I am grateful for is that I have also reconnected with family members I haven’t seen since I was a young child at the funeral, and I look forward to making plans with them.
By altering my mindset I can change the lens through which I experience my life.   Recent research has proved that this is not just a theory but that it actually works.  The brain can rewire itself and form new neural pathways based on our thoughts and life experiences.  If we intentionally reduce the negative thought patterns often enough it will allow us to  rewire the brain so that we can have positive thought patterns with out trying.
Gratitude helps me do this.  Every day I list in my head the things that I am grateful for and this in turn helps me see the abundance around me rather than what is missing or lacking. When I hear negative self talk or I become aware of feeling down and sorry for myself, as I have done recently, I challenge those thoughts with facts to show that those feelings are only a small part of my reality, and that there are so many things that I can be grateful for.  I also remind myself that this difficult time is only temporary and that I have survived far worse times in my life before.  I didn’t learn to develop a positive mindset over night.  It took patience and practice, but I promise you that it is possible to change your reality.  You just have to believe and work at it.

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  1. Pam March 5, 2024 at 9:18 am - Reply

    Thank you.

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