The biggest block to making lasting change in life is usually our own mindset. What do I mean by mindset?
The dictionary definition of “mindset” is:
(n). the established set of attitudes held by someone.
Your mindset includes your thoughts + beliefs + assumptions + interpretations. A positive mindset can set us up for success. A negative mindset can contribute to feeling stalled out, stuck or unable to achieve our goals.
Often times we aren’t aware of our negative thought patterns. In fact, they can be so ingrained in us, we are unable to see them. Even if we are aware of them, we might not know how to change them.
Here are 5 common mindset traps that can keep you stuck, along with 5 ways to conquer them.
Mindset trap #1: “I don’t know what I want.”
While experiencing confusion is natural, staying stuck in the “I don’t know” mentality can stop you from moving forward in any direction. If you are stuck in this mindset trap, you feel like a mouse on a wheel — a wheel that you want to get off, but are not sure how. The truth is that until you get off of the wheel, you will stay on it. By choosing not to make a choice, you are still making a choice. You are choosing to relinquish your power and leave it up to someone else.
How to break this mindset: Realize that you have the power to make the decisions in your life. Stop fearing that you will make the “wrong” choice, and instead focus on making A choice. Making decisions for yourself is empowering and leads to a great sense of confidence and ability to advocate for yourself.
Mindset trap #2: “Everything is going wrong.”
Be honest, how much time do you spend thinking about the things that are going wrong in your life (for example: I don’t have enough time/money; My job sucks; I don’t have any fun; I hate my boss, My partner let me down, etc.) Negative thoughts breed other negative thoughts. The more you ruminate on the negative, the longer you will be stuck in a negative cycle.
How to break this mindset: Shift your thinking from “What’s wrong?” to “What’s right?” Try to list 10 things each day that are going right in your life, even if they are as small as having your favorite breakfast. Get in a habit of noticing when your negative thoughts come up and instead of indulging them, intercept them with your “What’s going right?” list.
Mindset trap #3: “I’ll be happy when…”
Thinking that you’ll be happy when you have a new job, a new car, a new partner, or a new house is relying on external circumstances for your happiness. If you’re waiting on something outside of yourself to make you happy, you are outsourcing your happiness. Even though experiencing those things may provide moments of happiness, soon enough you will find yourself back on the hedonic treadmill waiting for the next big thing. This is because we adapt to the positive things that happen in our lives and then go out seeking bigger and better things. But this isn’t the way to cultivate true, lasting happiness.
How to break this mindset: Take back the power you’ve given your external circumstances, and reclaim responsibility for your own happiness. Happiness is a choice, and every day you have the opportunity to make that choice, regardless of your external circumstances.
Mindset trap #4: Comparisonitis.
Comparison is the thief of joy, yet we all seem to fall prey to it from time to time. Someone (or everyone) appears to be having a “better” life than you. Comparison also breeds jealousy: What they have is what you want. Constantly comparing yourself to others is time wasted that could be spent on creating the life you want to life.
How to break this mindset: First, give yourself a reality check. No one has a perfect life, despite what is portrayed. And if someone is experiencing great success and joy in their life, why not be happy for them? Abundance is everywhere, and just because someone is successful doesn’t mean that you can’t be. When you get caught up in comparisonitis, remind yourself that there is enough to go around, and focus on your own path.
Mindset trap #5: Expecting a quick fix.
When we realize something we don’t like in our lives, we want it to change, right now. It likely took some time to get to where you are. Realize that bigger changes often take more time. This doesn’t mean that there is not a solution. It just means the solution may take longer than you want.
How to break this mindset: Even when you realize the possibilities, making true, lasting change takes time and commitment. While it can feel like a long haul, once you embark on the journey, change happen sooner than you think. Track your progress by journaling or doing a monthly review to see how far you’ve come. Reward yourself for the small steps.
When you become aware of your thoughts and realize how they could be limiting you, you have the power to change them. It takes work, but focusing on a positive, solutions-focused mindset can benefit you in all areas of your life, and better prepare you to achieve the changes you want to see.
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