It’s helpful on this rather demanding human journey to have a positive attitude, right? If you have a great outlook on life, you are more likely to have good experiences.
To change our mindsets, it is recommended to try on the idea that what takes place around us as seemingly independent events, as well as our feelings about those events, are inseparably connected to our beliefs about ourselves and the world.
The trouble is that most people with trauma are imprinted with the mindset that they do not have any power, not even the power to change their own mindsets. So this can be a tricky space for us.
I want to be very clear that I am not saying that bad things that happen to you are your fault. There is genuine victimization and abuse in this world. Harm and trespass is not our fault.
Especially important is to recognize that terrible things happened to us when we were too young or otherwise disempowered to defend ourselves, and that these experiences left us with “bad mindsets”.
We can’t change what happened in the past. The area where we do have influence over our lives is when and where we may be re-creating our victimization now, through the ways that our deep beliefs shape our experiences.
The most problematic mindsets tend to be variations on the following themes:
-It’s all my fault (self-scapegoating)
-I deserve bad stuff to happen to me (turning on the self)
-Nothing I do makes any difference so it’s useless to try (helplessness)
-I have no value/I am bad (self-devaluation)
-I am abandoned/unloved/alone (isolation)
-the world is all bad/unsafe/scary (splitting)
-my experience is controlled by you/someone other than me (agency is located outside the self)
That is by no means a comprehensive list but if you recognize any of those themes, please understand that there is trauma at play, which is largely the case with those of us who have a harder time changing our mindsets, and consequently our experiences in the world, than others may seem to.
Once you’ve identified what might be the core mindset, think about if you’re willing to change it, and if you are, go ahead and replace it. If you’re not really willing, work on becoming willing. (This is more often the case than we might think, because our core beliefs feel like they protect us.)
Once you’re willing, the changing of the mindset is literally what it sounds like. Identify the mindset you want to have instead, and replace it, like a car battery.
“Instead of believing that I am inherently bad, I will now uphold and empower the belief that I am inherently good.”
Repeat it enough times, say it and write it and think it and act as if it’s true, and eventually it will become your own. Like breaking in a new pair of shoes.
Here are a few mindset changes I have found helpful, which you might like to adopt, too:
1. The mother of all mindset changes: Mindsets can be changed.
Mindsets are changeable. Neuroplasticity is a thing. Trauma is healable. Humans can learn. We are resilient. It’s amazing what can change in a short time of doing things in a new way.
Whatever I face is a universal human experience. I may feel alone, but I am actually one among many. I experience this along with many others. Together we will improve this.
3. The Silver lining mindset change: Every experience has a positive aspect.
If I am finding it hard to change a mindset, perhaps I am not yet done with this mindset’s positive side. What is the hidden positive side of this mindset? Having this mindset allows me to feel…to do…to experience…OK, I accept why I am still holding onto this one.
4. The Fake it until You Make it Mindset change: Acting “as if” really works
It works to practice and try and fake it. All baby mammals learn this way, by pretending to do what their parents do. One day, you can do it for real.
5. The Make-it-A-Habit Mindset: Easy Does Do It.
It is repetition, not strain, that turns a new behavior into second nature. To make something feel easy, turn it into a habit, by doing a little bit in an easy, almost effortless way, every day at the same time for at least 21 days. For example: you might write your new belief down 12 times, every day for 21 days, and see what happens.
Remember: you can do it, it can be done, and the whole world benefits from every tiny bit of progress you make. Thank you for your courage to change!