I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment. That joy is in everyone, always.
— Byron Katie
Your mindset is the foundation for how you’re feeling every single day.
And I couldn’t love this Byron Katie quote more.
She’s right—when we watch our thoughts and separate out our identity from them, we see that we are not our thoughts and we feel better.
This, of course, is easier said than today.
In this post, I’m sharing how you can get started improving your mindset so you can feel better from the inside out.
How Your Brain Works
Your brain is like a computer.
It’s your job to make sure the computer code is programmed for optimal performance.
Your brain is not static or fixed – your brain can change and adapt (this wasn’t always known to be true). Your brain can reorganize itself due to your environment, behavior, thinking, and emotions.
How does your brain change and adapt? By practicing something over and over, strengthening the connections of neurons over time.
The way you do this is through understanding how to reset neural pathways in your brain.
There are two main parts of your brain that I want to talk about here – the cerebellum and the prefrontal cortex.
The cerebellum is your habit brain. It seeks efficiency, aims to keep you alive and protect you, and works really fast.
- Example: You don’t have to think about lifting one foot in front of the other when you walk because you’ve memorized that behavior (thank God!).
The prefrontal cortex is your goal setting brain that focuses on planning and is slower, and future focused.
- Example: When you set a new income goal for your business, you do this from your prefrontal cortex.
Both parts of your brain play a huge role in your ability to create new results you want in your future.
Add on top of this the fact that the brain has a fight or flight complex, where it freaks out when you do something new in an attempt to protect you and keep you alive.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you set a goal from your prefrontal cortex and rationally know it’s what you want and the right decision. As soon as you take action to do something new, your primitive brain freaks out because you haven’t done it before, so you immediately become overwhelmed with fear and doubt.
- When you know how your brain works, you understand this is normal and it’s just your primitive brain trying to protect you, despite not needing protected from your goals. Your brain is just trying to keep you alive by alerting you to the fact that it doesn’t know what to do when you do something you’ve never done before. When you know this, you don’t make the fear mean anything and you act in spite of it. You design your future from a place of abundance.
- When you don’t understand how your brain works, you mistakenly think that the fear and doubt mean something – that you’re headed in the wrong direction and should stop. This keeps you stuck. You don’t act, and instead of creating a new future, you repeat your past over and over.
How The World Works
Your thoughts create your feelings. Your feelings create your actions.
This simple truth is life changing.
Most of us (myself included) go around thinking that the facts of the world (our circumstances) create our feelings.
This isn’t true.
You can think and feel anything at any time.
And this is power.
Don’t Believe What You Think
A thought is just a sentence in your head.
A belief is a thought you’ve repeated so much that you believe it to be true.
You can believe anything.
No one can tell you what to believe. There is huge freedom in this.
When I learned this, it rocked my world. I immediately changed so many thoughts I had been believing simply by choosing to.
You don’t have to believe what you think.
If you want different results in your life, you have to start by changing your beliefs. Some beliefs will be really easy to change and can be done instantly. Other beliefs will be harder to change because they’re so deeply rooted that you believe them even though you want to change them.
Related: How To Cope With Negative Thoughts As A Mom (free class)
Some Beliefs You May Want To Change
- Have stories about their past that don’t support them.
- Believe they are damaged in some way.
- Believe they should make a certain amount of money.
- Believe they’ll be happy when [fill in the blank].
- Believe they’re not supposed to have problems.
- Believe that bad things aren’t supposed to happen.
These statements are only true if you believe them. And most of them will harm your well being if you believe them.
The good news is you can change them.
This is the work we do in Grow You, my mindfulness community for moms.
1. Have stories about their past that don’t support them.
You can believe whatever story you want about your past no matter what happened to you.
I’ve heard people do this exercise who have had horrible childhoods told in two completely different ways. One story is the victim mindset of “poor me” and the other is “my life is happening for me and my past allowed me to become who I am today and design the future I want” (or something like that).
Try telling the story of your past from a victim mindset and then again from an empowered mindset. It’s a really fun exercise.
2. Believe they are damaged in some way.
You are not damaged. You are a human who has made mistakes in your life. That has nothing to do with your worthiness as a human.
You were born as a baby 100% worthy and no matter what you believe or anyone else tells you, you are still 100% worthy as a human being alive on this planet.
Resource: Download the free Podcast Directory
3. Believe they should make a certain amount of money.
How much money do you think you should make annually? Why not double that amount? Most of us just make up our money mindset and philosophy based on what we’ve been taught in the past without giving much thought to it.
Read this post on creating a money philosophy for yourself here.
4. Believe they’ll be happy when [fill in the blank].
Do you think happiness comes later – on the other side of something you’re waiting for? More money, a better job, the right partner, when you lose weight?
The truth is that you have the capacity to be totally and completely happy right now just the way you are, regardless of your circumstances. Nothing in your life needs to change for you to feel happy. Happiness is an emotion that comes from how you think. If you want to be happier, you need to change your thoughts.
5. Believe they’re not supposed to have problems.
You are supposed to have problems. You are going to have problems forever. How do I know? Because that is how life was designed – full of contrast (good and bad). Since the beginning of time, humans have had problems.
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have problems.
This is great news. When you know you’ll have problems no matter what, you can let go of striving for happiness later and enjoy the moment now, knowing that your life is happening for you and you’ll be okay despite your problems.
6. Believe that bad things aren’t supposed to happen.
Bad things are supposed to happen. You can stop fighting and standing up for every righteous thing that you think isn’t fair. Life isn’t supposed to be fair. How do we know? Because that’s how life has been since the beginning of time.
There is always going to be contrast (bad things happening).
This doesn’t mean don’t participate in making the world a better place. It means you can let go of trying to make everything right and fair. You can focus on how you’re going to take action and do your small part to improve the world (e.g.: volunteering for a cause you believe in) instead of voicing your opinion in a Facebook post. You can let go of worry and defending people.
Changing Your Mindset To Support You
All the thoughts and belief systems you have are from your past. It’s your primitive brain repeating old thought patterns.
You can stop believing these things right now.
You can believe anything you want.
Here is how you change your belief systems:
- Step 1: Separate yourself from your thoughts.
- Step 2: Observe your thoughts.
- Step 3: Decide what you want to think, feel, and do. You can choose ANYTHING.
- Step 4: Create new thoughts that support what you want.
- Step 5: Transition from negative to neutral and from neutral to positive thoughts.
- Step 6: Ask supportive questions (e.g.: how can I start believing in “xyz”?).
- Step 7: Practice the transitional neutral thoughts until you believe them.
- Step 8: Move incrementally to the more positive thoughts until they’re your new beliefs.
This process works if you work it.
For something that’s easy for you to believe, you can just decide in this moment to believe it.
But for other things that are hard for you to wrap your head around, you can follow this process for changing your belief systems.
If you change actions without changing your belief systems, you’ll struggle because you’ll fight the underlying thought and feeling.
My favorite step is Step 6 – asking questions. Your brain will find the answers to the questions you ask it. Remember, your brain is like a computer. It wants to find answers. Whenever you what to solve a problem, change a belief system, achieve a goal, implement a new habit – anything – ask supportive questions.
Here are examples of supportive questions.
- For more happiness: “How can I be happier tomorrow?”
- For more love: “How can I love more?”
- Fore more money: “How can I save XYZ dollars?”
- For solving a problem: “How can I solve this problem? What does this make possible?”
- For getting out of a funk: “What’s wrong love? Why are you upset?”
Ask yourself questions is a great way to notice and change your thinking without forcing it, which won’t work. Just make sure your questions are supportive. If you put your brain to work on negative questions, it will come up with those answers and crush you (example of a negative question: “why is this always happening to me?”).
Once you start letting go of belief systems you have, your life is limitless.
- When Your Brain Tells You Something Is Wrong (blog post)
- Increasing Your Happiness With Brain Chemicals (podcast)
- 4 Brain Chemicals That Make You Happy (blog post)
Abundant Vs Scarcity Mindset
The difference between an abundance and a scarcity mindset is everything when it comes to your mindset.
An Abundant Mindset
An abundant mindset means there is always enough.
- There’s more than enough time
- There’s more than enough money
- There’s more than enough energy
- There’s more than enough opportunity for you and everyone else
- You feel lucky
- You welcome competition
- You design your life from your future without knowing how to do it
- You come from a place of giving
- There’s always enough
The abundant mindset is based in more than enough and a feeling like your life is happening for you.
This doesn’t mean you don’t have problems, feel pain, or have all the ups and downs that everyone else has. It means that you think about all those things very differently than someone with a scarcity mindset.
A Scarcity Mindset
A scarcity mindset means there is never enough.
- There’s not enough time
- There’s not enough money
- There’s not enough energy
- There’s not enough opportunity for you
- You’re very unlucky
- You fear competition
- You repeat your past over and over
- You don’t have enough to give
- There’s not enough fill-in-the-blank
The scarcity mindset is based on fear and feeling like your life is happening to you.
Scarcity is ripe with defensiveness and righteousness. You can seem to be very in control and strong and have a scarcity mindset. The strength comes from an effort to control your life because you’re afraid of what will happen if you don’t.
I used to have a scarcity mindset and seemed very in control. This was confusing to me at first because I didn’t understand how I could be so strong and in control but have a scarcity mindset. Oh, but did I live in righteousness, control, fear, and fairness. When I started to do this work and let go of all these unsupported beliefs, I became much happier. Not only that, but all the wonderful characteristics of an abundant mindset fell into place. I love more, I’m generous, I believe there’s enough opportunity everywhere, and I know my life is happening for me. It’s a beautiful thing.
If you’re not there yet, don’t be hard on yourself. Awareness is the first step to making the change you want.
I have a list of 7 action steps you can take right now to start to change from a scarcity mindset to an abundant one. This is how I started my change, too.
7 Action Steps To Take Right Now To Change Your Mindset
If you want to change your mindset from a victimy scarcity mindset, do these actions (these come from the Design Your Dream Life 7 Day Free Training).
1. Write for 15 minutes straight.
Anytime you feel a certain way that you don’t like (or are feeling scarcity), write for 15 minutes straight without lifting your pen (or fingers from the keyboard)! Don’t judge yourself during this exercise. Just write.
E.g.: You’re having a bad day. Write for 15 minutes straight about the thoughts you’re having. Then review what you wrote.
When you do this, you’ll be able to see how your thoughts directly cause your feelings. You’ll be able to separate you from your thoughts and recognize it’s just your brain. You’ll discover the magic between changing your thoughts to support the life you want.
2. Create a list of the new beliefs you want to adopt.
Make a list of your ideal beliefs. These should be specific.
E.g.: I am going to make $10k per month blogging by the end of this year. I am going to be a full time blogger. I can make $1M from my blog next year.
This list can be for anything – health, career, money, relationships, etc.
Then, make a list of laddered thoughts from where you are now to where you want to go (these should be thoughts that transition you from your current thinking to the thinking you want).
E.g.: I haven’t made $10k per month yet, but I know that it is possible that one day I could.
Whatever the neutral thought is, the key is that you have to actually believe it to be true.
Practice your thoughts daily.
3. Ask yourself one question every day that supports your thinking.
As I mentioned above, questions are the secret ninja tip that will change your beliefs without much effort on your part.
Choose one question you want based on the area you want to change in your life.
Here are examples:
- What thoughts can I think to support my happiness and success?
- How can I be happier tomorrow?
- How can I accomplish my goal?
- How can I lose 10lbs?
- How can I become a full time blogger?
- How can I work for XYZ company?
4. Make a list of the emotions you consistently feel versus the emotions you want to consistently feel.
Since most of us don’t manage how we think, we aren’t deciding how we want to feel either.
Make a list of the top 2-5 emotions you feel regularly (e.g.: anxious, stressed, and worried).
Then, make a list of the top 2-5 emotions you want to feel (e.g.: loving, generous, and ambitious).
Notice that you may want to feel different emotions for different areas of your life (your relationships compared to your work).
This awareness and being intentional alone will help you start to change your life.
5. Create a vision board with images that inspire the beliefs you want to manifest in your life.
Vision boards work because they help you focus on something you want to create in your life.
You can create a vision board digitally on Pinterest or Canva or a good ole fashioned paper and magazine board.
6. Make a list of daily intentions.
Think of your dreams as a plant. The plant is the life you want to design. All day, weeds grow around the plant. At the end of the day, you need to pull the weeds so that the plant can grow so you can still see it. If you don’t pull the weeds, your plant will start to look like the weeds and you’ll lose sight of it.
To make sure you’re living in a proactive place where you’re designing your dream life from an abundant mindset instead of a reactive state where you’re putting out fires and living other people’s dreams, do the following:
- Write down what your dream life looks like.
- Write down your why.
- Write down your purpose for living.
- Write down what’s most important to you.
- Look at this every day. Forever.
There is always going to be a lot thrown at you every day. You have to be clear about your life. You have to decide what you want. Then, you have to set up systems to focus and remember those dreams every day.
7. Ask “What am I thinking?” daily.
Your thoughts and beliefs create all the results you have in your life. To change those 60,000 thoughts you have daily, you’re going to need to figure out what’s going on in your head.
Make it a daily practice that you ask yourself “what am I thinking?” You’ll start to separate yourself from your thoughts and realize you are not your thoughts. There is enormous power in this.
A Final Note
If you use the steps above, you can shift your thinking and create new results in your future.
Up next, take one of my free classes: