When it comes to making positive changes in your life, your mind can be your best friend – or your worst enemy. Our thoughts are very powerful, and they exert a surprisingly strong influence on our actions. To a large extent, what you believe about your ability to change is what will come to pass.
For example, if you believe that you just can’t lose weight or stick with a regular exercise program, you probably won’t become a woman who nurtures and cares for her body. And if you think that pursuing your goal or dream is a waste of time, you probably won’t become a woman who amazes herself by what she’s able to accomplish.
And if you think that you’ve been married too long to make any real changes in your marriage, or that your kids are too old for you to build a stronger relationship with them, then you probably won’t become a woman who thrives in her most important relationships.
And it’s not because you can’t make these changes, as challenging as they may be, but rather because you think you can’t make them. Your mindset is a map, and it’s telling you where you can and cannot go. But like a real map, your mindset can be out of date. Or incomplete. Or just flat-out wrong.
And – in the same way that a map can change as roads, towns, and cities change – you can change your mind.
Believe me, I’m talking to myself here. I’m an expert at operating with the wrong map, also known as a totally messed up mindset. If something can be blown off course (or blown up!) just by thinking about it the wrong way, I’m your girl! My mind tends to go to the worst case scenario, which can be small (“You’ve been trying to lose those 10 pounds for years. It’s not going to happen.) or big (“You’ll never be a real writer. You might as well stop trying.) Or just about anything in between.
And honestly, that’s natural. Those thoughts serve as a kind of protection – our minds don’t want us to be hurt or disappointed. They constantly scan our experiences and the people and things around us, looking for things that can hurt us. And then they do everything they can think of to try to protect us.
But while our minds are protecting us, they’re also sabotaging us. Because what we think we are, or what we think will happen to us, tends to come true.
For example, if I think that I’m a person who hates exercise, or one who can’t figure out a way to exercise regularly, it’s unlikely that I’ll take care of my body by getting up and moving every day. And if I think that I’m just not a sensual person, I probably won’t make the kinds of changes that will enable me to feel sensual and enjoy a fun sexual relationship with my husband. And if I think that I’m not a person who can write a book that people will want to read, I’m probably not going to even try to write a book.
That doesn’t make me a bad person or a lazy person or a fearful person. It makes me a normal person.
But “normal” isn’t my goal. And if you want to make a healthy or positive change in your life, it’s not your goal either.
What about you? Can you identify ways that your mind is trying to protect you, but in fact has become an out-of-date map that may be leading you in the wrong direction? If so (and it’s almost certainly so – at least in one or two areas!) you’ll need to change your mind about change, by changing some of your thoughts and creating a new mindset that will help you make the changes you want to make and become the woman you want to be.
Use the Tool – Over the next few days, take some time to identify any thoughts you have that may sabotage the changes you want to make in your life. Really think about this and be completely honest with yourself. If you think it would help, talk to your spouse or a trusted friend about it. Consider writing the thoughts down, then come back to them after a few hours or the next day and consider them again. See if any insights or additional thoughts come to mind.
Then start to create new thoughts that reflect the changes you want to make and begin to replace the old thoughts. For example –
- “I can’t lose weight” might become “I’m taking steps to become healthier and feel more comfortable in my body.”
- “I don’t have time to eat well” might become “I deserve to eat healthy meals and to take the time to prepare them.”
- “I’ve tried and failed too many times in the past” might become “Regardless of what’s happened in the past, I’m moving forward with a new way of living and taking care of myself.”.
- “I’m not a business person. I have no idea how to start a business” might become “I can try out my business idea by starting small, taking one step at a time, and seeing what works and what doesn’t.”
Once you’ve identified thoughts that aren’t productive and created new thoughts that will help you move toward your goal, write them down – on a piece of paper, a note on your phone, or wherever you’ll see them regularly. Then review them and start saying them to yourself several times a day. Even if it seems weird or awkward, just do it! Over time those thoughts will change your mindset and help you make the healthy or positive changes you want to make.
Your mind is very powerful – put it to work for you and use it to your advantage!
I’d love to know what thoughts you identified and how this works for you. Leave a note in the Comments, or email me at hello @ healthylifetoolbox.com.
You can find all of the tools in the Healthy Life Toolbox here.