Have you heard the quote ‘We can not solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them’? It’s a famous quote by Albert Einstein and it is a similar idea to a lot of what we see on social media. The idea is that we can control what we experience simply by changing how we think about it. We are inundated with this concept through motivational speakers, pretty memes and elegant graphics.
So why do we still have so much trouble simply changing our mindset? After all, if we listen to what the experts on social media tell us we are in control of our mindset and it’s as simple as flipping a switch and then success and happiness await us.
Here’s the thing though – A lot of what we think and our mindset comes from things that happened while we were growing up and the way we were conditioned from 0 to 7 years old not to mention our experiences as a teenager and adult. These conditioned thought patterns can be challenging to shift. They have already created a well-worn path in our brain and it’s easier to use this path than forge a whole new one in a direction that seems to be rocky and overgrown terrain. When we respond to external situations in our life we are responding from our 7-year self as a default.
This doesn’t mean we can’t change our mindset and create a new path, we just have to be clever about the tools and strategies we use to do it. When we have the most effective tools creating that new path is just a matter of rewiring our brain to think differently. The strategies I am going to share with you below are strategies that I have used with my clients successfully over many years. I want you to start by thinking of a situation that creates a negative feeling in your life, choose something small to start with so that you can practice the steps. Perhaps you feel grumpy with the weather or the kids not picking up after themselves.
- Write down how you currently feel about the situation, use this formula to create your sentence – When (situation) I feel (feeling) and as a result I (action). You can take some time to formulate this sentence so it feels right for you. Here is an example ‘When I deal with a difficult client I feel frustrated and as a result, I lash out at those around me’. This sentence forms your reality right now, it is the script your brain is already working from and therefore every time you are in that situation it tells the brain exactly how to respond.
- Let’s rewrite the script, we are going to use the same sentence but reverse the feeling and the action. If we use the example above that might be ‘When I deal with a difficult client I feel calm and as a result, I can be understanding of the stresses they may be under’.
- Practice! This is the difficult part of the process, every time you encounter the situation your brain is going to want to default back to the original setting, after all, it is well-practised at it and the easiest way to respond. Take your time with this part of the step, remind yourself to breathe and start creating your new response path.
- Review – set yourself a time to review how the process is going. What obstacles are standing in the way or are you creating success with this new pathway? Assessing your progress along the way is crucial to identifying changes you may need to make to reach your goal.
- Repeat – once you feel like you have created change in this area move onto something slightly more challenging and continue with the steps above. This system works for all areas of your life and can be a powerful catalyst for change.
When you start to get into more complex issues you may find that it becomes trickier to make the change. Some of our thought patterns can be highly ingrained and tricky to shift on our own. This is where help from a professional can assist. As a business and life strategist, I assist clients to create shifts in their life that bring about long-lasting change. If you are ready to start shifting your thought patterns get in touch for a free chat about how I can help here.