Why it is useful and not just trite instagram bullshit
Have you ever found yourself feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or upset, even though everything in your life seems to be going well? I hate to break it to you but that’s actually really normal. Many people struggle to achieve their goals and maintain a positive outlook on life, (which we're told we should have), but because no one is talking about it, it can feel like a very isolating experience (or in everyday terms – like there is something dreadfully wrong with us). It is tempting to think of things like clarity, motivation and confidence as just things we either have or we don’t, but the truth is this stuff all comes from our thoughts. And we are all making it all up all the time. So if we’re making it up, we might as well try making up something we enjoy. If our thoughts directly impact our emotions (and they do), then understanding this relationship is essential to create lasting change in our lives.
In basic terms, your thoughts cause your feelings. Our brain is wired to react to our thoughts, regardless (whether they are real or imagined). So, if you're having “negative” thoughts, your brain will respond with “negative” emotions, even if the thoughts you are having are not true. And this also means the circumstances around you can change, but if you are still having the same old thoughts (hello ingrained beliefs) you’ll still feel the same way about them NO MATTER WHAT IS ACTUALLY GOING ON. This blew my mind This means that you can achieve a big goals in life, and it won't necessarily make you feel any different unless you change the way you think about it.
A smaller example could be, if you don't feel like you have enough time to get your work done, this could trigger a feeling of frustration, and very few of us enjoy feeling frustrated, so we are likely to try and escape that emotion. How you escape as is a choice of your vices; Maybe it might be by playing with your phone or rigorously cleaning your kitchen or gossiping with your mates about how terrible it is that you don't have enough time or taking procrasteraction action because there is so much to do, you don't even know where to start. Can you guess where this kind of action leads? Suddenly that you have a lot less time to do your work, and in truth, you've caused yourself to have less time.
One of the most common misconceptions about life in general, I believe is that if we just achieve our goals, our problems will magically disappear. But deciding that our external circumstances cause our emotions not only takes away our agency, but it also does not make sense when different people have different feelings about the same circumstances. If it was the situation which caused the emotion – we would all always feel the same way about everything. But it is not our external circumstances which cause our feelings; they are caused by the way we think about them. Which is why, even if you achieve a goal, changing the plot scenery or characters, it doesn't change the narrator. That is your job (and your choice).
This is why it's so important to work on our mindset. When you decide upon your thoughts, your emotions will follow. Your thoughts are the steering wheel and your emotions are the vehicle. When you focus on challenges and obstacles, it can be tough to feel the emotions of the possibility and opportunities. If you want to feel determined, confident, clear, or hopeful about chance being possible, try to put yourself in the shoes of someone who feels these things. What might someone that person be thinking?
Taking control of your mindset means you'll be more likely to take action rather than simply sitting on the sidelines and waiting for opportunities to come your way. So, how do you change your mindset? The first step is to become aware of your thoughts and emotions. Pay attention to the way you think and feel throughout the day. When you notice you have feelings you don't like, take a step back and question the thought you were thinking. Ask yourself if that thought is accurate and if you like the result that thought gets you? Do you like the way it makes you feel? If you don't, is there something more factual which could at least take the fire out of it? I don’t think you need to positive thought your way through life (I actively advise against it) but there are useful steps which can be taken. The idea of shifting to a positive mindset is often it is just another stick people use to beat themselves with. I found that reaching for neutrality is a little more useful and more productive.
Finally, practice gratitude. I know it sounds trite, but it ca also be useful. When you're feeling overwhelmed, it's easy to get lost in all the things you don't have or haven't achieved yet. But taking the time to appreciate what you do have, no matter how small, can help shift your perspective. What are things that you have achieved today? What is is beautiful around you? Where has love been shown? What did you laugh at? How can you celebrate these wins? Because it is in allowing ourselves to celebrate our successes, the effort of breaking through our trudge habits becomes worth it.
Changing our mindset is the key to unlocking our full potential and feeling beholden to what life throws at us. When you understand the link between your thoughts and feelings, you have the key to create lasting change.