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Follow These 5 Steps to Radically Transform Your Negative Mindset

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Struggling with a negative mindset is a very real and common problem, one that often hinders a person’s ability to grow and achieve the things in life they want. Oftentimes, it is someone’s mindset that determines their level of happiness.

What is a mindset? A mindset is the beliefs about yourself and your most basic qualities. Think about your intelligence, talents, and personality, these are the basic traits of oneselves. A mindset determines how we deal with challenges and obstacles. Which frame the running accounts in our heads and guide us on our life journey.

Experts agree there are two basic types – a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. In a fixed mindset, people believe that their natural traits – intelligence, abilities, and talents are fixed from birth. In a growth mindset, people believe that they can develop their inner traits through learning and determination.

“The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.” – Carol Dweck

Research has shown that 80% of the nearly 60,000 thoughts we have on a daily basis are negative. It also estimated that 98% of those thoughts are a repetition of yesterday. On a subconscious level, people are expecting the worst – almost all of the time. Constant repeated thought patterns turn into beliefs.

These beliefs then combine into a fixed and negative mindset. One where our inner voice is a harsh critic, a worrisome voice, and an anxious being. Luckily – we can employ parts of our brains to change other parts. We can move a fixed mindset into a growth mindset. How?

Here are five steps to radically transform your negative mindset:

Step One – Untangling your thoughts

A very powerful, proven technique for stepping back from the constant flow of thoughts is to look at them with the impartial rational mind. Generally, it is easy to spot these negative thought patterns because they are accompanied by an emotion. Recognizing the emotion tied to anxiety then gives you the power to label it for what it is. The same can be done for many other feeling patterns. These thoughts and feelings start to lose their intensity when repeatedly scrutinized by the rational mind.

Step Two – Examine your beliefs

Using the perspective gained in step one, you can begin to check your belief systems. The fixed mindset creates an internal monologue that is focused on judging: “This means I’m a loser,”  “I am a better person than they are,” “I am not a good wife and mother,” “My partner is selfish.” Etc.

The key is adopting a growth mindset. A growth mindset is one where it is possible to learn and begin to cultivate positive beliefs. For example – when you find yourself being hard on yourself, consciously change it to something more positive – like when you have failed at something and the negative inner voice is yelling “see – you suck. I knew you’d fail” (a fixed view). Changing this tone to one that is more forgiving to yourself – “its ok – you’re only human. Learn from this mistake and you’ll do much better next time” (a growth view).

Step Three – Balance Your Risk-Averse fears

Being overly risk-averse in life leads to focusing on catastrophic possibilities. In a fixed mindset,  these fears are set in place and the belief is that they cannot be changed. Which results in a human being that is unable to experience life because of fearfulness. Fears can be overcome by setting goals and making detailed plans to accomplish them. Write the specific goals and plans down on paper. If you have your plan written down on paper than you know what you have to do and will not negotiate with your fears when making decisions.

Step Four – Adopt the Habit of Daily Mindfulness Meditation Practice

The practice of mindfulness meditation has been around for 2500+ years. It is what Buddha practiced and is at the heart of many religions. Meditation can be used to see the bigger picture and not focus on the implications of now. More so, mindfulness meditation can delve into each piece of it – old fears, habitual self-loathing, shying away from challenges and eliminate these pains.

What is meditation anyway? At the core, it is the mind’s ability to look inward. As discussed above – it can look at the thoughts, emotions, beliefs, fears, hopes, attraction, and avoidance of oneself. It can gradually quiet the negative internal monologue. Research shows that meditation increases a sense of happiness and contentment. Mediation makes space for growth by eliminating underlying stress, depression, and anxiety.

“Your mind is a powerful thing. When you filter it with positive thoughts, your life will start to change.” – Buddha

Step Five – Shape Your Mindset With Visions and Goals

Every person has hopes and dreams that they want to accomplish. However, often we feel powerless to do so. By setting specific goals and detailed plans to accomplish them, you can start to break free from negativity. Break down the goals into smaller achievable steps. Allow every achievement along your plan to bring a sense of accomplishment and self worth.

The best way to begin to put it all together is to have faith that you can break out of a negative mindset. Gain an understanding of how your current mindset is fixed and negative through mindful meditation. From this insight and understanding, you can then set achievable goals of positive growth and use the same mindfulness to measure your success.

Adopt these five steps and through determination and consistent practice, you will find your mindset transformed in ways you never thought possible. Remember, there is always space for failure. Without failure there is no growth.

Do not fall back into the trap of negative thinking if you do not achieve what you want in one day. Humans are imperfect beings, and it is not possible to reprogram your brain within a day or a week. Some negativity will linger for awhile and that is totally normal. What matters most is your continued effort to reprogram. Over time your mind will change, just give it time.

David Freudenberg is a real estate investor that buys single family, multi-family, fix/flips, and rental properties in the Sunshine State of Florida. He enjoys writing about real estate investing and investing in tax strategies on his blog at davidbuyshousesflorida.com.

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What Les Misérables Taught Me About Our Values

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Who am I? The ultimate question many of us try to answer. When I think of values, I think of Victor Hugo’s 1862 book, “Les’ Miserables”. In Hugo’s book, Jean Valjean, is used as a protagonist to highlight the power in redemptive love and compassion. Valjean goes into prison for stealing a loaf of bread, entering as a simple and decent man. His time in jail seems to have an unrepairable effect, where he emerges from the chain gang as a tough, bitter criminal who hates society for what it has done to him. (more…)

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7 Ways You Can Increase Your Concentration Right Away

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In today’s world, an overabundance of information and a large number of distractions is making it increasingly difficult to concentrate on performing the necessary tasks. In this article, I propose 7 simple methods that will train your ability to concentrate, while not taking you from your usual activities. (more…)

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5 Simple Hacks to Help You Develop the Habit That Will Transform Your Life

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It’s excruciating when we know what’s killing us but we can’t do anything about it because as you know, it is not easy to pull the brake on a high way. According to Napoleon Hill, “remember this always – the best (and one might say the only) way in which old habits may be removed is to form new habits to counteract and replace the undesirable ones”. (more…)

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Why Do We Have An Unconscious Bias and How Can We Manage It?

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When I hear someone using my name once in a while throughout the conversation we are having, I cannot stop myself thinking “this person must have read Dale Carnegie’s books or must have been influenced by someone who read them…” Have you just recalled a similar moment and it felt nice?

As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and the most important sound in any language”. Why did Dale Carnegie highlight the importance of an individual’s name to that person in his “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book published in 1936?

Each and every one of us wants to feel special and unique. I guess he recommends using the person’s name in the conversation because that is one of the easiest ways to grab that person’s attention so that we can enhance the chances of getting our point across. However, I am more interested in this from the other side; hearing our names directly addresses our individuality, our need or desire to feel special and unique.  

Let’s park this one for now and we will come back. 

Categorization is essential to our survival

There is countless scientific research telling us about how our brains recognize similarities and put things into categories, which has been crucial to our survival in evolution and still helps us with a lot of things from learning new things to coping with the continuous influx of massive amounts of information through our senses. 

The continuous influx of information is mostly handled by our subconscious mind rather than conscious. It is estimated that our brains receive about 11 million bits of information every second through our senses, of which only 40-50 bits can be processed by our conscious mind. We process more information than we are aware of. The magic here is the subconscious mind.

An example is when you are at a very loud party where you hear a lot of words flying around without you recognizing each one of them, then suddenly, you immediately catch it when you hear your name. Your subconscious had been processing all of those words, without your awareness, but informed your conscious mind when your name was out there because it was relevant to you.

In order to most effectively process this much information and inform the conscious mind with only the relevant ones, our subconscious employs categorization as one of its strategies.

When our ancestors encountered some deadly predators in the African savanna, their subconscious prompted their conscious mind to immediately fight or flight by categorizing the information gathered through their senses into “predator / life threat / take action”. Most probably we are not descendants of the ones that were frozen rather than fighting or flighting! 

Although it is a completely different situation, the same strategy applied in remembering lists. Let’s look at the below two lists.

  1. lion, eagle, shark, leopard, hawk, whale, panther, falcon and dolphin 
  2. lion, leopard, panther, eagle, hawk, falcon, shark, whale and dolphin

The second list is easy to remember because it is reordered into relevant groups even though the content of the both lists are identical.

Subconsciousness is the magic and categorization is one of its key strategies. It is essential to our survival, learning new skills and processing information as well as bringing back the information we had processed and stored. 

This amazing skill has its drawbacks

As a result of our brains’ categorization strategy, we also categorize people, especially if we don’t know them as well as our closest ones.

Imagine I am sitting at the table next to yours while you are having your favorite coffee and working on your computer or reading your novel at your neighborhood coffee shop. I stand up, very calmly grab your bag, and start walking away. Your reaction might be quite different depending on my outfit. It could be much more vocal and harsh if I have a dirty T-Shirt and a pair of torn jeans on. However, if I have some navy colored, 3-piece suit and well-pressed white button up shirt on, you might even say something like “Excuse me, you might have picked up my bag by mistake”. (There is an experiment done by social psychologists which reported similar results)

Similarly, I would not be surprised to hear that my co-worker’s spouse is very skilled and knowledgeable in English grammar and literature because he is an English teacher. However, I would not expect it from my co-worker herself because she is an outstanding chemical engineer.  

This is defined as unconscious bias or stereotyping, as a result of our subconscious brain’s categorization strategy. The outfit I have at the coffee shop impacts your response to my action, because it puts me into a different category in your mind depending on my outfit. My co-worker’s and her spouse’s backgrounds make me put them into different categories, which might mislead me sometimes.

Just like we categorize things, it is very natural that we categorize people.  

The key question here for me is; how do we truly treat people as individuals so that they feel unique, just like as they would want, while we know that our brains categorize people

We can overcome unconscious bias 

Leonard Mlodinow, in his enlightening book “Subliminal”, suggests that “if we are aware of our bias and motivated to overcome it, we can.” That doesn’t mean that we need to fight our brain’s categorization strategy. We just need to employ our conscious mind more when we are working or dealing with individuals. 

Our unconscious bias might tell us scientists are bunch of technical nerds who cannot understand abstract concepts that marketers are talking about or it might say that marketers are some daydreamers who need to be grounded by scientists to the real world all the time. I am an engineer and I love thinking in abstract terms and I worked with quite a lot of marketers who thought primarily in factual and concrete terms. 

Spending some effort to learn more about individuals will help overcome unconscious bias. Gathering more information and qualities about them will make it easier for us to treat them as individuals rather than a member of the category we put them in our minds. 

The moral of the story here is to recognize the fact that our brains do categorize, and it is essential; but also, to recognize that every individual wants to feel unique. When we appreciate these two and keep reminding them to ourselves, we are one step closer to figuring out our own way to overcome unconscious bias and treat people more like individuals. 

What was the most interesting part of this article for you? Share your thoughts below!

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