Our mindsets are our own personalized driving forces. Unconsciously lying at the heart of every single decision we make. Leading us towards our unknown destinations.

The word “mindset“ itself has been defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “a person´s way of thinking and their opinions.“ In a number of cases, we have embodied our mindsets to the extent that we believe that we are them. They have become habits of ours. With us never questioning their purpose or even challenging their very existence. They are just there.

Mindsets support us in adapting, surviving and making sense of the very world we live in and move in. But what happens when they start to stand in our way? What happens when we can sense that we are ready to grow but just seem to be making no progress? And how do we know that it´s in fact a mindset that is holding us back?

We might not be aware from the get-go that it´s a mindset. But as time passes, we see the signs. We might start to feel irritated, frustrated, aggressive, even devastated. We might possibly even start lashing out at others, claiming that “they don´t understand us.“ That “they don´t really get the pain that we´re in.“

These kind of responses are all strong indicators that there´s an underlying mindset – a belief – that´s holding us back. That is standing in our way. And that this mindset is actually causing us more grief than backing us up and cheering us on.

As mentioned in my previous blog, “Dare To Be Bold … And Surprise Yourself,“ the good news is that we can change our mindsets. This sounds nice and easy enough. Right? But if you´re truly in pain, your initial reaction to this bold statement probably goes more along the lines of this: “Yeah right. So tell me! How DO I change my mindset?“

Step 1: Become aware of your mindset.  

The first step to changing your mindset, lies in awareness. Becoming aware that it´s in fact a belief that´s holding you back. Becoming aware that it´s a fixed way of thinking that´s creating this emotional turmoil. Even havoc inside of you.

A strong indicator that you are dealing with a mindset is when you see yourself having extreme emotional reactions to an idea or a plan you have come up with. These reactions can go something along the lines of: “No. I can´t do this!“ Or: “This is not me! I don´t want to do it“ Or: “What was I thinking? I must have completely lost my mind!“

Once you have become aware of your mindset, define it as accurately as you possibly can. A mindset could be: “I´m too old to try something new.“

Don´t be scared to go deep. The more painful it is, the closer you have gotten to the heart of your mindset. Let your pain be your guide.

Step 2: Acknowledge your mindset.

Acknowledge the mindset that has been holding you back. Don´t fight it. Don´t deny it. Don´t defend it. Simply acknowledge it and take it for what it is.

Acknowledging doesn´t mean accepting your mindset as written in stone. Never to be changed. It means to admit its existence. Furthermore, it means recognizing its importance. Your mindset has had its purpose up to this point in time. It has now simply become “outdated.“ Unable to support your growth and development.

Step 3: Define a new empowering mindset.

The best way to define a new mindset is by taking the mindset that was holding you back and turning it around. For example, your mindset could be: “I´m too old to try something new.“ The literal turnaround of this mindset could be: “I´m young enough to go and try something new!“ or “I´m too young to stay in my comfort zone.“

If you now feel energized, are able to breath again, are relaxed and ready to go, these are more than strong indicators that this is the new mindset for you. Congratulations!

Step 4: Embrace your new mindset.

And now it´s time to take action. Think of behaviours from your recent past that support your new mindset.

It could be as simple as remembering that you´re actually taking a different route to work. Have started trying new flavoured jams. Or have taken up hiking. All indicators that prove that you´re already moving – unconsciously – outside your comfort zone.

Write these behaviours down. And live these behaviours consciously.

Step 5: Be kind to yourself.

Give yourself time. It takes about 3 months to change a habit. And a mindset is exactly that: a habit. Your old mindset won´t be too happy about being replaced. And the shift will take time to truly manifest itself.

A great support is to remember how you felt when you found your new mindset. Remember how you suddenly felt light, were able to breath again and started seeing the world differently.

You can support yourself in various ways. For example, by putting a photo on your desk. It could be a photo taken during one of your hikes. Or you could have a quote on your desk. Whatever tool serves your memory best, use it. Embrace it. Live it.

Is there currently a mindset that is holding you back and where the time has simply come to let it go?


photography: fotolia/ anyaberkut