21 April, 2017
Like many first time Mums, I was very anxious about the birth of our son. Despite my daily yoga and meditation practice, my thoughts about the experience often overwhelmed me. In the end I was able to get through the birth naturally, but the 13-hour labour remains an agonising (yet jubilant) memory – one that has graciously muted with time.
By the time of my second pregnancy my mind-set had shifted.
I knew what to expect, and although I’d be lying to say I experienced no anxiety at all (I did!), in the lead-up to our daughter’s birth I was much more steady. Through previous experience, positive affirmations and constant dialogue with my partner I was able to shift my anxious mind-set to one of more acceptance and flexibility; and overall the experience of labour and birth was improved.
Whether you see it or not, I believe if you’ve been on the journey of childbirth, then there is an element of your backbone that is now platinum in strength!
Any way you look at it, our mind-set is crucial.
It impacts everything from how we feel about the past to what we believe we’re worthy of in the future. Important relationships, our success in a particular creative project, our susceptibility to disease, experiences we attract – essentially mind-set is the filter through which we view all of the events that happen in our lives.
To live an optimal life – where we are able to be fully present for our children, friends, partner, family, career and community – we need to focus on building a strong mind-set. One that, when life decides to start testing us (as it always will), has us prepared to survive each challenge and embrace growth over stagnation.
One of the keys to developing a strong minds-set is learning to avoid (consciously) the pitfalls that will obscure it or wear it away.
Here are the top 5 things mentally strong people don’t do and how to avoid them.
1. React to problems negatively.
Our daily lives are built from moment-to-moment experiences, like a movie real rapidly joining one picture to another, over and over again.
Here’s the thing… you have the opportunity to choose how you view each of those experiences.
Habitually how do you respond when your punk neighbour has a party till 4am on a Sunday morning? How do you respond when you don’t get a response to your email? How do you respond when the supermarket is all out of baby spinach leaves? In these moments of our lives we can practise choosing to view “problems” as lessons. They are messages direct from the universe about where to next. This one is a biggie and I often need reminding of it. Put a post-it note on the fridge and test it in your own life. See what comes up.
2. Avoid challenges because of fear of failure.
We hate looking back on the past and reliving perceived failures. That time I chose the wrong boyfriend. That time I embarrassed myself at work. That time I was engulfed by anxiety. Through a consistent practice of yoga and meditation I have seen first-and how one’s perspective on “failures” can shift.
When you are ready to embrace the shadow and live openly with your vulnerabilities, their dominance in your life subsides. To live your most effective, creative life, you are going to have to step outside the square. In doing so, you will definitely experience failure, probably repeatedly. Stay true to your core self belief. Surround yourself with authentic, genuine people. Re-frame what it means to ‘fail’ and build your resilience.
3. Compare your life to other people’s lives.
This is a tricky one, because it is engrained in us from a young age. But it is a habit we need to change for a resilient mind set. When you compare yourself to somebody else’s (highly curated) gorgeous life you are actively giving away your own personal power. No two lives are the same. It is all a matter of perspective.
If you find yourself caught in this toxic vortex, remember to ask yourself a question like:
“What would a Syrian refugee think of my life?” Shift a ‘comparisonitis mind set’, to a ‘gratitude mind set’.
4. View intelligence and talent as the most important things.
In her book Growth Mindset, Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck explains that we are not born with high IQ and talent. These are learned traits that anyone can develop with perseverance over time.
This is not the traditional way these things are viewed by parents, teachers and schools. However the tide is turning. Understand that you can choose to grow your mind at any life stage you find yourself. It’s never too late.
5. Criticize yourself for making mistakes.
Making mistakes is a part of life. Usually the way our parents spoke to us as children will mirror the internal dialogue we have with ourselves as adults.
Are you now the owner of a mean inner critic?
I find it so helpful in my own life and in feedback from clients to start a gentle dialogue with this voice. The next time something comes up and you observe the unpleasant voice telling you off, become curious. Ask the voice “what are you doing here?” Notice that, over time through this observation, the energy can shift and positive, new habits are developed.
These strategies are not ‘quick fixes’. But the habits that are holding us back may have been years in the making – so could be weeks or months in the unmaking.
I find keeping a regular journal about my experiences, reactions, affirmations and gratitudes a great way to observe positive shifts in mind-set.
As always, if this blog has resonated for you please drop me a note below or jump over to our Facebook group and leave a message. There are other beautiful souls who want to hear and learn from your story! Me included.