zomg so deep (pic by Aline Bouma)
Like what I said before in my how to destroy a negative thought article, I believe our mind should be a good place.
We should have the right mindset for our lives, one that helps you feel good and helps you be productive, kind, helpful and awesome all-around.
But our mindsets are not always the rosy, unicorn-riddled environment we’d like them to be. And it can be so hard to change this.
The rigidity of our thinking can really put the set in mindset.
Our mindsets can be fixed, based on the cumulative experiences, previous thoughts, relationships, what people around us do and say, what we’ve seen in the media and what has been said to us by important figures in our lives. The beliefs, opinions, attitudes and frequently thought thoughts (FTTs) that comprise our mindset are hard-wired in us.
But your fixed mindset is not the only option for you, you know. There are so many more ways to look at a situation, so many more ways to experience the world, so many different ways to think about the things that happen to and around you.
If you know your mindset gets in your way? If you believe you are a failure, you believe you’re never good enough, you believe the Apocalypse of Moldy M&M Rain is upon us (and that’s why you refuse to leave the house anymore) and you want to start challenging that mindset and make room for a new one?
Let’s look at how we can do a mindset challenge.
pic by aline bouma
1 LET’S TAKE A LOOK First of all, I want you to take a look at all the things in your life that aren’t working. What is going wrong in your life? If nothing particular is going wrong, but you feel like shit anyway, what do you think about in a negative way?
EXAMPLE TIME. You’re broke. You hate your job, your body or yourself*. Your relationships all turn to shit after a couple of months. Your friends don’t listen to Niykee Heaton. You have the problematic tendency to lick the furniture after the cleaning lady has just left your house but one time she hadn’t left yet and she caught you tongue first on the ironing board and you have lived a life of perpetual shame ever since.
It is very likely there are negative or destructive thought patterns associated with aaaaall of that. It’s even more likely that there is an entire set of beliefs, convictions and ideas attached to whatever is not working. It doesn’t matter what came first (the thought or the real life shitshow), what matters is that it’s there.
Make a list. Don’t get discouraged if it becomes a novel. Deep breaths. You’re going to be fine.
*I love that last one. The all-encompassing hate one can have for one’s self is so nice and thorough. Saves you the selection process.
2 LET’S TAKE A CLOSER LOOK Listen up. This shit requires deep thought, and being able to get down and dirty with everything you’ve ever been through and experiences (see step 3).
Unlike action-oriented challenges (30 day challenges) that centre around action, repeating a behaviour or a routine for a while until it sticks, this focuses on the internal workings of the mind.
It is only once you’ve tackled the mindset to a certain extent that you’ll see different behaviour.
By nature, I’m a contemplative person (this is why I distract myself with drag queens and shiny objects; otherwise I would existential-crisisize myself on the daily.)
Look at the shit-shows in your life and your mind. That super dysfunctional habit you have. The idea that you have to be liked by EVERYONE because otherwise you’re the worst.
- What do I think/feel most often on this topic, in this situation, on this area of my life?
Ya’ll probably know this, but so much of our thinking is super-repetive. Write down your go-to thoughts, what you know you think most often, what you feel, what’s going on in that head on default.
- Where does this come from?
No, but really? What is this based on? Experiences, things said to you, childhood things or observing others around you?
- Why do I act, feel or think this way?
What is the foundation of all of this? What do you think you’ll get out it? (Spoiler alert: Often it is self-protection, the ego at work OR the fact you can survive just fine this way)
- How do I express these things I’m feeling and thinking?
And what are the effects of this? Are you happy with them? What do you think about this expression?
- What other possible ways to deal with these things?
What would be better? What would you prefer? How would you like it to be? Even more ambitious, what would be ideal?
3 EXPECT ZERO FUN Before you think ‘oh yay self help fun times I love challenges lol’ when I present you this idea for the mindset challenge…No.
Nope. This is ZERO fun, ya hear?
This is painful. It’s taking all your sore spots, all your weaknesses, and taking the sharp knife of rational thought through all of them and hacking away. Without anaesthesia. (Unless you drink continuously while you do this, which I don’t recommend)
Self reflection is not fun. It is uncomfortable. But self knowledge is power.
Accept that from the get-go and you’ll be able to deal with the discomfort a little easier.
4 SIT ON IT Contemplation, reflecting and observing are key words when it comes to learning about your mindset and changing it. No more reflex, knee jerking, but instead facing your own mind.
Through journaling, writing, talking with someone you trust a million percent, meditation or (my favourite method) just sitting and thinking with a cup of coffee or tea: You’re just going to observe.
This is a learning experience, because you might be able to get deeper. When you let it be a little more instead of distracting yourself from it, you might be able to discover more of where certain patterns come from and express themselves.
HOW DOES THIS TRANSLATE INTO A (30 DAY) CHALLENGE?
Good question, observant reader (and you look cute in that shirt by the way).
Ideally, we’d always be on the introspective lookout all the time. It’s always good to see what goes on in your thinker as to better ourselves and our experience. But life, Autopilot and urgent deadlines can get in the way of that.
A 30 Day Challenge means taking a bit of time each time to explore your mindset. I take 20-30 minutes, take a topic and start thinking, jotting down the most important things and take some time to look at my way of thinking. I try to forgive what is shitty and accept what I can’t change (immediately).
I’d say have fun but see step 3. This shit is no picknick. So good luck. Holla if you need help from this semi-professional introspector.