Have you ever read a self help book (or a self help blog post!) that really resonated with you? Have you ever gotten super excited that you had found a new way to look at things?
But has your excitement then quickly waned, because the new way of thinking wouldn’t really stick? You would forget all about it within days or a couple of weeks?
Me too! This used to happen to me all the time.
But it doesn’t happen to me anymore, because at some point I discovered what I was doing wrong.
My mistake was not realizing that you have to actively work to change your old, unhelpful thought patterns.
For example, when I wanted to overcome people pleasing and perfectionism and self loathing and excessive focus on what other people think of me, I understood that all of this was a result of unhelpful thought patterns that had become a habit over time. I understood that I needed to adopt a new way of thinking. I needed to change my mindset.
But it wasn’t enough to just read about a new way of thinking once and to agree with it. Automatic thought patterns that have been established over decades are not going to disappear overnight.
Changing your mindset requires A LOT of work. But it’s work that is SO worth it, because it liberates you from thought patterns that are holding you back in life and enables you to bring your life into alignment with what you actually want.
If you want to learn how to change your mindset – and not just for two seconds, but permanently – here are three practices that have really helped me along the way and I sincerely hope they do the same for you. 🙂
How To Change Your Mindset Permanently
1. Use Tools For Reminding And Reinforcement
Let’s say that you want to change your mindset about basic self care. Let’s say you used to believe that prioritizing your own needs above other people’s needs was terribly selfish and that self sacrifice was the way to go. But that mindset led you to overextend yourself and left you feeling depleted and resentful. So now you want to replace the old, unhelpful mindset. You want to believe that self care is not selfish and that the better you take care of yourself, the more you will be able to give to others.
If you really want to make this (or any other) new mindset stick, repetition is key. Here are some tricks you could consider using:
- Set aside a few minutes every day to read passages that have really spoken to you.
- Read the same or similar message from several different authors.
- Print out and hang reminders on the wall. (You can’t pour from an empty cup! 😉 )
- Write a letter from your happy, confident self to be read by your depressed, doubtful self.
- Recruit a trusted confidant to remind you of your new mindset.
- Set reminders on your phone.
2. Stop Identifying With The Old Thoughts
Some positive thinking gurus like to make us believe that we have loads of control over our thoughts. We can just say “no more negativity” and magically our brains will be cleansed of all unwanted thoughts from that point onward.
Well, I don’t know about you, but that has not been the way thoughts work in my experience. My thoughts lead a merry life of their own and they just pop up whenever they please.
But even if we don’t have that much control over thoughts coming and going, we do have the power to decide what we do with them.
For starters, we can recognize that we are not our thoughts. When the old thought “I’m so selfish” pops up, you don’t have to identify with it. You don’t have to believe it as absolute truth. You can respond to the thought with something like: “There’s that thought again. I don’t believe it anymore.”
With time and a gazillion repetitions, the old thought will get the message and go hide in the forest where it will shrivel up and almost die and only crawl back on rare occasions for old time’s sake.
And by then you won’t care, because…
3. Let The New Mindset Guide Your Actions
When you adopt a shiny new helpful-to-you mindset and let the new mindset guide the way you are living your life, you will reap the rewards. Because helpful > unhelpful.
And the more you reap the rewards, the stickier the new mindset will get. And the stickier the new mindset gets, the more you will let it guide your life and the more you will reap the rewards.
See what I’m getting at? It becomes a self-reinforcing cycle.
And when you learn to do it with one set of thoughts, you can repeat this process with others. Over and over and over.
Until you have a whole army of helpful mindsets at your service. 🙂
What do you think about all this? What new, helpful mindset have you been able to adopt in the past? Or what would you like to work on in the future? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!