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What Is Your Mind, Really?

(Becoming Your Best Self Series—Part 3)

I’ve told you that you’re going to “change your mind”… but what does that mean?

It’s time to consider the power of your mind and what you believe about yourself. It’s important to understand what your mind is and what it means for who you are, what you think, and what you do. You know you have a mind but you likely never really think about the power it has in your life.

Your mind is what processes information. Information flows through your mind, giving energy to your thoughts and internal and external actions.

We are all entirely unique. We have unique experiences and ways of dealing with those experiences. The way we feel and what we believe about ourselves and what happens in the world is completely unique from anyone else. The patterns of our minds are shaped by information from our experiences, life events, surroundings, and the way we process this information.

The way we think and what we do doesn’t just depend on what’s going on inside-- it also depends on external cues. Your mind is constantly taking in new information and putting you in a certain state.

For instance, if you get dressed for a night out on the town and are sitting with a cocktail in front of you, your mindset is going to be very different than if you’re dressed in your Sunday best and are sitting in a church pew.

We take in these cues and respond in certain ways depending on external factors. This determines the way we act and even the way we feel. We flow through these different states of mind throughout the day without even noticing it.

Once you’re aware of it, you can take steps to control it. You need to be in the right state of mind to be as effective as possible. Your overall mindset needs to be positive, resilient, and ready for anything.

Unfortunately, many of us get stuck in negative patterns and poor states of mind. This can override external cues that would usually help put us in the right state of mind.

For example, even if you put on your work clothes and show up to a quiet office free from distractions, you may not be in the right emotional state to work, despite the fact that all the external cues are there. It’s because you’re stuck in negative or difficult emotional patterns; such as anxiety, internal distractions, and the belief that you’re not productive or good enough based on previous patterns.

The things you’ve experienced in your life and the way you’ve reacted to those experiences influence how you perceive the world around you and how you take in those external cues. For instance, if you were commonly blamed for things as a child and people reacted harshly or physically to what you did, you’re likely to perceive others’ actions as being more negative than intended even today. This can make it harder for you to relate to others and do what you need to do to succeed.

It can be hard to grasp the idea that your mind is flexible and that you can change depending on the situation you’re in. It can also be hard to grasp that certain unhealthy patterns can overshadow typical responses and make it difficult for you to be your very best.

It’s important to understand that it’s okay and desirable to change your mindset depending on the situation you’re in. Just because you had a rough day at work doesn’t mean you need to have a rough day at home to match. Just because you made a mistake at work doesn’t mean you need to feel like a failure at home. Just because someone blamed you for something at work doesn’t mean you should be on the defensive at home.

You also have to realize that just because you put yourself in a certain position and get all the external factors right doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily have an easy time of it.

That’s a huge part of why you haven’t been able to make lasting, drastic changes in your life. Self-help books have told you to organize your desk space and eliminate distractions to become more productive. It won’t matter how much work you’ve done to your external environment if there are things going on internally that prevent you from adapting.

You also have to pay attention to the states you allow other people to put you in. Are you strong enough to maintain focus even if you’re having a difficult time with a friend, family member, or colleague? Do you let little comments throw your entire day off course? Do you believe other people think badly of you, so you internalize that no matter what others are actually saying or thinking?

It’s important to understand that your mindset does change depending on the situation, but also that there are many things that might be holding you back and getting you stuck in a poor mindset.

In the next edition, we will explore "Your Beliefs about Who You Are Versus Reality"

Until then, many blessings and much peace!

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