Does Your Life Need Some Lightening Up? Help is Here!Jun 09, 2016
“Why me?” may be the only phrase that makes me clench my jaw. (Well, besides, “We’re out of coffee.”) Because here’s the thing: I live with certain beliefs, one being that we carry our assignments from our past lives into our present lives. In other words, if we choose to work on these assignments, we won’t have to repeat the same painful patterns over and over again, not just in our next lives, but in the life we’re living now.
Can you afford to live without growing and reaching for the next best thing? Is, “Why me?” holding you prisoner and holding you back? The short answer is yes.
In positive psychology, we have a theory called the Fixed vs. Growth mindset, and how mindset becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We predominantly have one or the other, and whether our mindset is fixed or one of growth determines our behavior and outlook. For example, someone with a fixed mindset tends to get caught up in judging circumstances, whereas someone with a growth mindset looks for the lessons in the experience and believes that things can be changed.
It’s relatively easy to figure out which thought camp you’re currently a member of by looking at a negative situation in your life. It’s obviously natural to feel low about it, but take a closer peek at your inner chatter. Do you deliver blame? Do you feel like bad things always happen to you? Are you a pessimist? Does it feel like you’ll never be able to get yourself out of negativity? Are you tired of trying because you know you’ll always fail?
Odds are, you probably answered yes to at least one of those, because we’re all human. That said, a few shifts can dramatically lighten up your life. Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, is an excellent resource if you want to dig deeper into this, but for the time being, let’s look at a few of her wise words.
1. “Learn to hear your fixed mindset voices”
Examples of fixed mindset chatter include: Am I sure I can do this? I don’t have the talent. What if I fail? Then I’ll be a failure. It’s not going to work out, I can feel it. I’m just going to end up embarrassing myself. I’m doomed. I don’t attract anything good in my life, and I should just accept it. Life is just always going to be hard for me.
2. “Recognize you have a choice”
Ask yourself: Do I want to go down the same path I’ve always gone down? Do I want to engage in thoughts that don’t really do it for me anymore, or do I want to change those thoughts into ones that will promote a growth mindset? I can make this choice. I can make a change.
3. “Talk back to it with a growth mindset voice”
Have an internal dialogue. Try responding to your fixed mindset chatter. I’m doomed. Life is always going to be hard for me. Respond with a growth mindset: I’m having a really hard time right now, but I know it won’t last forever, and I’m learning a lot along the way.
4. “Take the growth mindset action”
Once you’ve started a conversation between your fixed and growth mindset, make sure you complete the circle by taking a growth mindset action. The action might be, I’m going to try this challenge, or, I will listen even though I feel uncomfortable, or, Try this thing and start moving forward on it.
As with any habit, this is going to take some practice—but the rewards are huge! It’s pretty astounding that you can change your entire life just by changing your thoughts. (Neuroscience is reeeeeeally remarkable.)
I see so many people shrugging their shoulders, giving up, and proclaiming, “Why me?!” And I raise you one hell of a “Why not?!”