By: © Nancy M. Gordon LCSW, CLC
“If you don’t like something, CHANGE IT; if you can’t change it, CHANGE the way you think about it.” Mary Engelbreit (21st century American artist)
This is clearly the winning mental health solution to dealing with negative effects of the global Covid19 pandemic! We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control what we think, which is called our “mindset”.
We all have a mindset, an attitude born out of our typical way of thinking based on our world view and core beliefs. Sometimes our mindset can be fraught with negativity, and sometimes it can be overwhelmingly positive. We get to choose. We get to change it. We get to control our mindset. We get to choose how we react to our mindset. All of these choices determine how we manage our mindset, and thus our experience.
I love this comic where the human feels sorry for the 3 legged dog and the dog feels sorry for the human who only has 2 legs. It’s one of the best (and humorous- good for mindset!) illustrations of the power of mindset to determine how you feel.
Have you ever felt like your imprisoned in your body, like a hostage to your health™️? Most of us have at least a few “glass half-empty” moments in which we moan and groan while thinking, “I feel like I’ve been hit by a Mack truck. Why did this happen to me (stuck in the helpless victim prison)? This pain never ends (unrealistic body awareness?). No one understands how I feel and how hard it is for me to exercise. In fact, it seems like that will make me feel even worse (unrealistic resistance, there is usually some kind of movement that doesn’t make it worse). I will never get better and this will never change, so why try?” (negative reaction)
On the other hand, one could be in the same situation and see it quite differently, in an empowering “glass half-full” way: “I feel like I’ve been hit by a Mack truck. What can I do to make my pain better (thinking outside of the disability prison? It seems that when I don’t move at all, I have more stiffness and pain (realistic body awareness). I feel depressed and out of control just sitting here (realistic emotional and mental awareness). I could try doing some easy stretching at home or watch an online “adaptive yoga chair” class to see if it helps me.” (proactive)
So, what do you whisper in your own ear?
Perspective is so important in creating a self-affirming experience. When we practice gratitude, which is one powerful way to keep a positive perspective, we now have an easier time seeing the glass half-full. With this mindset, everything becomes possible because mindset determines EVERYTHING.
Mindset takes time and practice but as we experience how changing how we think and how we talk to ourselves, we will experience the freedom from the imprisonments our mindset can hold us in.
Minding Your Mind Action Steps:
- Listen carefully with new ears and hear what you are really telling yourself when, for example, you don’t “feel well”. Then change what you whisper in your own ear to be a positive message to yourself. For me, sometimes in my darkest moments, I would say to myself: “Well…you’re still standing…and you are a courageous warrior given all you are dealing with!”
- Practice seeing the glass half-full- what is the other side of the negative thought? In the example above, I perceived it could be worse, and I whispered in my own ear a positive statement, conveying both the success in that moment being a warrior while acknowledging that there was a lot on my plate.
- Practice gratitude. A great practice is to start the day, while you are still in bed, recounting 3 things you are grateful for what the day will bring, what the possibilities are within your day. At bedtime, be grateful for those 3 things, or if those things didn’t actually happen, find the glass half-full and note what you can be grateful for in your day.