(Becoming Your Best Self Series—Part 9)
Previously, we talked a lot about the theory behind changing your thoughts and patterns from the negative to the positive. Now it’s time to dive into exactly how to do that.
We have so much going on in our lives that it’s very overwhelming. It’s easier and more natural in your current state to have a bad reaction rather than a positive reaction. “Oh no! My latest project didn’t earn as much as I thought it would. I’m horrible and doomed forever. I’m giving up.”
But by paying attention to your reactions, you can change challenging experiences into positive experiences. “Wow, my latest project didn’t earn as much as I thought, let me figure out why. Ah ha— I bet it will do better if I add a bonus and put some scarcity on the offer. I can’t wait to earn even more from this without doing that much extra work.”
For everything that enters your awareness, there’s a way to make lemonade out of lemons. But there are so many things that happen to you in a day that you acknowledge with fleeting negativity.
From the time you get up in the morning: “Ugh, I’m so tired I just know today will be a bad day.”
To your first interactions: “Why are my kids so crazy in the morning? I just want some peace and quiet.”
To your work: “I’m going to check my email. Ugh, not another customer asking me to spend my life answering the same questions over and over again.”
To recognizing your failures: “Yet another day has passed and I’ve wasted the whole day. I’m such a worthless loser.”
You get the idea. These thoughts pass through your mind on a constant basis. You probably don’t even realize it because it’s so ingrained in you now. It’s your default state to be negative. Your confidence is low and you feel like the world is out to get you.
You vow to change. Every night you go to bed thinking that tomorrow will be different. You vow to do better, earn more, and be ultra-productive. It might work for a little while, but those nagging thoughts and negative patterns stick around.
You have to tackle this problem. Luckily, it’s a lot easier than you think. The first step is to focus your attention on your thoughts and patterns. If you’re aware you’re doing it, you can take steps to change it.
If you’re aware of your typical thought patterns, you can change the flow of energy. You can stop yourself and redirect your thoughts. For example:
“Ugh, not another terrible day where I earn peanuts and get nothing done… hey… wait a minute. Today I can choose to spend 1 hour getting 1 very important task done. That’s something… heck, it will probably boost my earnings to do this task. I absolutely can do this for 1 hour. We’ll see where it goes from there…”
See? That single, simple change in your thoughts and patterns makes for a huge difference in your output. All it took was becoming aware and mindful of your patterns and what you can do to fix things.
It’s just like exercise. You can take it slow at first but build it up over time. Then it becomes easier and easier. For instance, there’s a popular exercise program called “Couch To 5K.” People start out from nothing— a couch potato— and start out running and walking in very easy intervals. It’s something everyone can do. The program slowly builds you up over time. A little more running this week. A little more running the week after that. Then suddenly you’re running the whole race.
You may be starting from zero motivation and zero activity this week, but at least now you’re aware of it. Make one positive, easy change this week. Make another positive change next week.
You’re doing the same with your positive thinking and implementing changes in your life to help yourself become the positive, incredibly productive, ideal person you’re meant to become.
You may be starting from zero motivation and zero activity this week, but at least now you’re aware of it. Make one positive, easy change this week. Make another positive change next week. Build yourself up over time until you’re your ideal person. It really is that simple— and it starts from being aware of your thoughts and actions.
Remember— what we focus on literally shapes our brain. Your brain will change and make different, strong pathways as you make these positive changes. Soon, it will be easy to stick with the program because that will be the default of your brain instead of the ingrained patterns you’re dealing with right now.
You can change your brain by becoming aware of what you’re doing and what you want to do. You can build your strength and resilience to handle anything that comes your way.
Getting Yourself Involved Emotionally
You’ve no doubt read self-help books that tell you to find your motivation if you truly want to change. I’ve given that advice many times myself. It’s great advice, but it’s really hard to follow if you’re not at all sure of what your true motivation is. For instance, maybe you really want some extra money so you decide that’s your motivation.
I can promise you that’s not your true motivation. Your true motivation is wrapped up in your utmost wants and desires. You don’t want extra money for the sake of having it; you want extra money because you want to create a better life for your spouse or your kids. You want extra money because you want to pay off debts that are really weighing you down. If you’re thought process is that it’s just about the money, you’ll be tempted to stop short of your true potential once there’s “just enough” money to take care of your pressing obligations.
So realize that your own Reason Why is something beyond the money itself, and you’ll be much further ahead in the end.
That’s why it’s important to invest yourself emotionally. You’re choosing to focus your attention and awareness on certain things you want to change. You’ll find that you have better results if there are emotion and passion behind it. Your brain and the patterns of your thoughts are much more likely to change if you’re emotionally involved with the process and the reasons behind it.
It helps to shake things up a bit. Try new things— do something you’re really excited about. You’ll change your brain simply by putting your attention on whatever it is you want.
The Importance of Health
This is mostly a mind game. That’s great news because it means that absolutely everyone reading this right now can make it happen. But, there are certainly some things that can have a very positive effect on your progress.
We talked already about the importance of rest and relaxation. That’s going to help you become more aware and happier in your everyday life, but you should also pay attention to your health. Try to get 30 minutes of walking every day. This helps keep your blood pumping and improves your mood. This will give you a boost in your efforts to become your ideal person— in more ways than one.
If doing 30 minutes of exercise seems like agony for you right now, start with shorter periods and work up to it over time. You’ll be glad that you did.
Mindfulness is an extremely important part of this process. It’s the process of training your mind to become aware and pay attention in the moment. You’ll observe your life, thoughts, and actions as if you’re an impartial observer. You won’t punish yourself or even judge yourself— you’ll just be in the moment.
This activity is what helps you become aware of who you really are and what might be standing in your way. We are so often caught up in the past, thinking about the mistakes we made and what we could have done differently. Other times we are far too caught up in the future— worrying about what might be or what might not be. Practicing mindfulness puts you in the present moment, which is exactly where you need to be if you really want to change.
There’s no right or wrong way to practice mindfulness and attention— don’t get stressed about the details; just do it. However, many people find it helpful to practice yoga, breathing, devotions, prayer, or meditation as part of mindfulness. This is a skill and practice that spans nearly all cultures across time.
You’re going to become more mindful of what you’re doing and what you’re going to change. This impartial observation is going to teach you so much about yourself and it absolutely will help you become your ideal person. It will get much easier over time— you’ll enter into the state naturally.
Let yourself be in the moment— as if you’re watching yourself in a play or in a movie theatre. Acknowledge and dismiss negative or judgmental thoughts. Take in the positive and mindfully release the negative. This is key is to practice focusing your attention and awareness. It’s relaxing, it changes your brain and patterns, and it helps turn you into WHO you want to be.
In the next edition, we will explore "The Importance of Openness"
Until then, many blessings and much peace!