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Why Mindset is Key

Spam Filter For Your Brain - Episode 76

I think a lot of us can hear phrases like "mindset is key" and immediately turn out, turn up the volume of all of our cynicism and be like ", My God, if I hear that one more time, I'm going to show them my mindset..."

It's quite often the sort of response that I have to general overly trite self care messages that can be boiled down to a single sentence. I feel like if my well-being was scripted by chatGTP "mindset is key". It's probably one of the things that it would come out with that would make me want to throw my laptop across the room. And the really sad thing about it is I actually think it's true, which is humans are complicated beasts.

So one of the reasons I think I just wanted to touch on a little bit today is for the cynics out there like me, who might see all of the well-being stuff that we hear banded around and both sort of believe it and then be a little bit disgusted, feel a little bit dirty for those ones that we do believe, and also just find it quite hard to apply to our everyday lives. And I just want to break down the basics of the fact that the reason why I think mindset is key is because that's quite often missing, isn't it? "Mindset is key", great sound bite, but how - is always my question to most things, how does that apply to me? Mindset is key because it is our mindset that causes our emotions.

And I don't know if you've noticed for yourself, but once you do notice it, it's hard to unnotice it, is everything that we do in life is because we're trying to feel something or because we're trying to not feel something. It's because we're trying to move towards an emotion we like. Hope you picked up on that one. Or try and get away from an emotion that we don't like. It's to try and escape away from things that we are not comfortable sitting around in.

And I think that most of us are brought up to believe that emotions are just sort of puddles that we fall into along the way. I kind of have this image of us flopping from one emotional trap to another. For all of the folks listening in England. I'm thinking of a really scrabbly old towpath that has possibly a few potholes, and you're trying to avoid all of the mud and avoid falling into the canal, and there's a slippy bit and some rubbish graffiti, and there's just no way around it. We're getting splashed left... Basically, I'm describing the River Lea (that one Adele sings about) to anyone who is East London-based. But that's how I picture emotions to be that we just kind of like we just have to go from one to the other and realise if we're going to have to keep plodding forward, we're just going to have to do all of this emotion stuff. And all of our emotions are actually not just things that happen to us, however much we are sort of brought up to believe that our emotions are just like smells that we pick up as we go along the way.

Our emotions are actually sensations in our body which is caused by our thoughts. And if you think that is nonsense or just some sort of weird concept that I've just made up, I want you to imagine that you get up in the morning and you're like, "oh, it's a lovely day, it's really sunny, my inbox is empty, and I'm going to go and meet one of my mates in the park today. It's going to be really lovely." Chances are you're going to be feeling quite light, quite relaxed, quite happy, quite optimistic about things. All of those emotions come from those thoughts that you have had about what your day is like. You could wake up on exactly the same day and have exactly the same scenario. (I'm doing a lot of big hand gestures here. I hope you can hear them). And you could have the thought of, "oh, brilliant, it's sunny outside, global warming, the planet is on fire. My inbox has no message in it whatsoever, so that means that I have no work. That's an absolute joy. And Derek wants me to go and sit in the park with him when I've got hay fever. And everyone's going to be really noisy and playing their music because it's the first sunny day that everyone will be in the park for ages, and I'd rather actually be at home on my own, but I can't be bothered to say that, so I'm just going to have to go along with it."

Now, if you were thinking those thoughts, you might be feeling resentful, begrudging, mildly irritated, miserable, and probably some other things. You have exactly the same scenario, but actually, the emotions surrounding how your day looks are completely different because of the thoughts that you are telling yourself.

And I don't know if you've noticed, but most of us have these enormous inner monologues that are going on the whole time. We have these huge scripts that are commenting on 72 things a second, as well as judging the colour or the texture of something, to what we need to be doing next week, to what we probably should have done yesterday, to have you remember to do that thing, to all the sensation of these shoes are slightly rubbing against my feet. Everything is going on all at once.

And so to think that this mishmash of thoughts that are going on in our head on a constant stream does not affect our emotions would be slightly downplaying the power of your brain. And once you start to try and notice the things that you are telling yourself, you will notice some of the emotions that are in direct correlation with those thoughts. It's a process and it's something that the more you do, the more you get to learn. But it is from these emotions and the emotional states that we're in that drive the actions that we take.

So the actions we might take might be reaching out to a friend. They might not return a text message. They might be planning for a picnic. They might be telling someone that you're going to need to stop off by the chemist to get some hay fever tablets. It could be heaven knows I'm running out of weird examples for going to the park in this scenario. But I hope you can see that it is the actions that these actions are driven from whether you are in a place where you think that your day is going to be really lovely, or you're thinking that your day is just full of obligation and it all just feels like a trap.

And of course, it is the actions that you take that build the life that you have. It is the culmination of all of the things that we do which create our lives. And so when people say that mindset is key, I think it's just a little shortcut for trying to explain this great big old waterfall that it is the thoughts that you have as part of your mindset, the whole outlook that you have that causes the feelings that you experience. And the feelings that you experience determine the actions that you take. And the actions that you take write your life. That is how you pen your own script.

So this idea of mindset being key isn't just a throwaway trite Instagram little meme that means nothing. It is actually fundamental to being able to work out how we can move our lives more in alignment with the things that we want. And if you can't quite work out what the thoughts that you're having are, sometimes it's worth looking at the results that you have and working backwards. Okay, so the results that I have in my life showing up for me right now were caused by these particular actions. What sort of thing might someone who was taking these actions have been feeling, and what kind of things would someone who was feeling that stuff be thinking? And then see if any of that relates to you. You can kind of work this down like a waterfall from your thoughts or clamber it back up like a set of stairs and try and be a little detective around the edges of your life to try and work out: Okay, so I'm here. And if I'm not enjoying it, or sometimes if I am, what are the thoughts that got me here in the first place? And do I like them? Do I like the outcomes that it has brought for me.

I hope that you've enjoyed my weirdly creaky voice today. And if you would like help with any of this stuff, please do pop along to and I'd love to support you in the brilliant, brilliant, brilliant group. I'll speak to you next week.


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