MINDSET TRAINING

How many of us find ourselves falling into the trap of the first column in the photo above? After over 20 years of both studying and teaching self-improvement, I am confident in saying…I do. Yes, even those of us who should ‘know better’ can still fall victim into letting our thoughts get the best of us. In my book, A Happy Life for Busy People, I equate this to a snowball rolling downhill, it gets bigger and bigger with each passing second. A most recent example for me is when it was near freezing as I left for work in the middle of the month of May. As I am not a fan of the cold at all my thoughts were on the fast track to nowhere good. Thinking about how much I didn’t like the cold, how much I wished I were on vacation or lived somewhere warmer. I began to think about how it didn’t seem fair I had to wake up and go to work when it was so unseasonably cold. If my thoughts were allowed to keep going like that, how do you think I would have shown up for work that day? With a positive attitude ready to face the day and any challenges that would go with it? Not hardly.

You may be thinking, “If this guy who has been in the field of self-improvement for over two decades still has his thoughts run away on him, what hope do I have?” The answer is plenty! Success in life is progress, not perfection. We are always going to slip up. If we continually beat ourselves up over that, we will most likely find ourselves living in the first column of the picture above. The secret to living an amazing life is not to never have any negative thoughts or tough days, but to be able to recognize them and take actions to correct and move on from them. The million dollar question is how do we do that?

Having some self-care ideas and actions at the ready can be the solution we all need. Personally, I love having my ‘happy playlist’ or list of songs I know put me in a good mood. I love having images that remind me of fun, warm tropical destinations. I keep them in my phone, at the calendar at work and on the occasional travel mug. Speaking of calendars, I have a inspirational day-by-day calendar that wakes me up with something positive to think of every morning. If you are low on ideas for self care ideas for your life, feel free to borrow some of mine, or even print out the list above. It can work even better when you combine a few. Using the list above, that can mean dancing to your favorite song while laughing out loud. You could make a journal entry celebrating your wins while relaxing in a hot bath. There are so many options. My only suggestion is to have a list or idea in place before the challenges come along. It can prove difficult, if not impossible, to be resourceful when you are in a bad emotional state.

Just remember when you find your thoughts running away on you that success is progress not perfection. Look at it as a great opportunity to practice some much needed self-care. A good time to pause and focus on what is really important and what really brings us joy. The more you practice this, the better you will become. The one thing that you can be sure of is that life will give you plenty of opportunities to practice.

CONTROL IT OR IT CONTROLS YOU

Doesn’t it suck when you are having a great day, minding your own business. Maybe you are even whistling a happy tune, talking to the birds. Whatever you do when you are full of joy. Then you get a text, a phone call, someone drives by and yells out of their car window or maybe someone posts something not so nice about you on social media. In other words, somebody does something to rain on your parade. Suddenly, you go from whistling a happy tune to growling unpleasant wishes to the offending party.

Did you ever wonder why people do that? If you are minding your own business, enjoying life, why do they have to bring their negativity on you? Why do they feel compelled to ruin your day? Here is a secret – I think some people are just jerks. While that may not really be a secret, it is the truth. Some people like to be mean. I never quite understood it. It might have to do with their own self-image. It could be a coping mechanism for their own pain. All I am sure of is it sucks. I would be inclined to guess you agree.

This quote from Eleanor Roosevelt is both a hard truth and the secret to having a lot more amazing days in life. Have you ever imagined what it would be like if you refused to let these people get you down? After all, we determine how we feel. We decide what certain actions in our life mean. That is why when a stranger says something hurtful about you it is far less painful than if a friend would say the same thing. Why is that? It could be the same words, the same idea. It is because we decide that it hurts more for someone close to us to say something hurtful. If we can, however, practice restrain and emotional control it will only increase our personal power. Next time you read a negative comment about you, get a nasty text or someone just insults you in person. Try repeating this to yourself, or better yet, out loud. In response to what you heard or read say, “No thank you. I am going to have a great day today.” If they follow that with even more intense negativity just keep repeating your statement.

This accomplishes several things. First, it programs your subconscious mind by repeating the positive statement over and over again. Second, it will begin to give you a feeling of control over your own mind and emotions. Once you master your own mind, you can master just about anything. Third, it will give you a feeling of inner peace and strength. Knowing that outside forces cannot dictate how you feel on the inside anymore. Lastly, it seems to annoy the person bent on making you feel negative. This is just an added bonus really. In the future, they will spend their negative energy on someone they can more easily get a rise out of.

HAPPENS TO ME ALL OF THE TIME

I am sure some of you think the life of a motivational speaker/author is one of sunshine and rainbows. Although I firmly believe I have found a way to live life with a passion and joy that few are fortunate enough to have, there are still challenges for me. Some happen when major events occur. Some, like we are going to discuss today, happen almost daily.

“Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” You have heard me use this quote of Earl Nightingale quite often. I do this because I believe it is truly one of the truest things ever spoken. I do not believe success is a point to be reached, so much as a way of traveling. I don’t believe we ever truly defeat our demons, so much as live to fight them another day. Sometimes we win, sometimes they do. To be successful, we must identify them and develop ways to outflank and attack them daily. With practice and persistence we shold begin to prevail more than we fall victim.

Case in point for me – negative self-talk and dwelling on the negative. This may sound shocking as those are two things that I preach everyone should work on. The reason I say that is because I do so daily. Recently, on my day off at my day job someone came and destroyed my work area. It took me a good 20 minutes to clean the area up before I could even begin my work day. Yes, this sucks. No, nobody knew anything about it. As I made my way through the projects I had to attend to that day I found myself thinking about this episode. Not even really consciously. It was almost as if my mind was having a conversation about it. “Who would really do such a thing?” “Why would they leave it that way?” and a million other thoughts raced through my head.

The more this happened, the more the event seemed to bother me. This was foolish as it had already been addressed and corrected. Dwelling on it did one thing and one thing only – lowered my emotional state and mental well-being. Then another thought crept into my mind. “If I spent this amount of time visualizing my goals, I would be a lot further along.” For that moment, my demons won. I did not let it stay that way. “Persistence is another word for faith. If you didn’t have faith, you wouldn’t persist.” Another Earl Nightingale quote I love. At that moment I made up my mind to take control of my thoughts again.

Dwelling on an unpleasant episode can be hard not to do. This was only a mild inconvienence. If you have an emotionally charged episode like a disagreement with your spouse, for example, that can seem insurmountable. It is not. That is not to say it will be easy, but it is possible. We realize focusing on what we have to be grateful for in our partner would serve us far better than dwelling on that thing they said or did that upset us. We also realize that dwelling on that will only increase our anger and make the likelihood of a possible resolution far less…well…likely. We certainly may not be able to shift our thinking away from the upset and towards gratitude, especially in the beginning. As we practice and continue to go to war with ourselves and our demons, we will experience one victory. We can use that and the good feelings it brings to build upon. 

If your demons are negative self-talk, dwelling on negative situations, do not give them power. Be persistent and have faith. Even if some days they may get the best of you, wake up to fight another day. 

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