Mind food or mind poison -- what do you feed yourself?
One of the most crippling and paralyzing things we do to ourselves is talk to ourselves in a negative, critical way. Arianna Huffington calls this "the obnoxious roommate in your head." Say you are about to take on a new challenge, do something a little outside of your comfort zone or even start another day of work -- how do you speak to yourself? Do you think of all the things that could go wrong, how your boss or client has it in for you, recall and berate yourself for a mistake you made last week and think of all the judgments awaiting you once you get stared? If so, yikes! I would not want to get out of bed either.
Here is what happy and successful people do (note both of these things -- not just one). They think of what could go right. They think, "what if..." and end the sentence positively. They think of the opportunities they will uncover, the things they will learn, how the tasks that await them require their specific, unique skills and cut themselves some slack for any setbacks they may have had. They do not think that people hate them or that the world has it in for them. They think of the universe as a friendly place and focus on their own potential and expect good results.
Which do you think is healthier? Tasked with the same responsibilities -- who do you think not only excels, but enjoys the process? Who do you think is more likeable, capable, passionate and resilient? Who gets what they want?
The good news is -- you are the landlord and you are in control! No one else is. You can kick out your metaphorical roommate and allow in a supportive, optimistic one who nourishes your confidence.
Here are my five tips to switch up to a healthier mental diet:
Eckhart Tolle loves to remind us that we are not our thoughts. Be conscious of what comes into your mind. The way to do this is to monitor your feelings. Put simply -- good feelings equate to good thought patterns. The same happens in the reverse -- if you feel like sh*t your thoughts got you there. How do you feel right now? Observe your mood. Awareness allows for action.
I love Anais Nin's quote "We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are." Say your boss spoke to you about your performance on an issue and said it needs to improve. You can take this one of two ways. You can think he or she is determined to ruin you and react with fearful, negative and destructive thoughts, words and behavior. This creates a dangerous and ill-advised cycle. Or you can remember their good points, be receptive to the feedback (managers love that!) and remind yourself that no one is perfect and look for the truth in their comments. Is this a good opportunity for you to learn, improve and become stronger and better? It might take a little time but this latter option is not only more beneficial -- it's probably more true.
Ah, sweet, underestimated choice. You, every day, control the thoughts you wake up with, get to work with, entertain throughout the day and finally go back to bed with. For a positive kick start, I read my Louise Hay "You can do it" quote of the day (via her app), say three new things I am grateful for (Shawn Achor's trick, each day has to be completely fresh) and ensure I am up an extra 15 minutes before I need to be to enjoy some tea and quiet, meditative time and remind myself of my goals. This centers me and allows me to feel invigorated, excited and calm as I start another important day.
4. Choose again.
By your second cup of coffee you might have become so stressed that you forget points 1, 2 and 3. This is not a one and done deal my friends. You must remember -- this is just like eating or drinking water. You need to do it multiple times daily! Particularly when you are stressed out - remember to come back to your breathing, thoughts and intentions. I am at an airport late right now with no Internet connection and it was just announced that my flight was cancelled and I am spending an unexpected night in Toronto. I have a pressing work schedule and this is not at all convenient. What can I do? Remember -- you can only control so much. I could spend 12 hours stressing and complaining or think, "Okay. What can I do here? I have unexpected hours to write until I reconnect with the web. I can be flexible. Better get to work and then to email later!"
5. Remember -- you are strong, capable and whole.
We all come from the same creator. You are as deserving, special and entitled to the good things in the world as anyone else. It is often the mind poison we feed ourselves that block the miracles that come our way and stop us receiving what is rightfully ours. As Rumi says, "Our job is not to find love, but to remove all barriers we have built against it."
As with any literal diet -- the results depend on your consistency and discipline. It gets easier with time. And there is no time like the present to be the healthiest, greatest you.