Changing your mindset, building a more positive attitude, conquering overthinking - they're all things that are achieved (and maintained!) over time by the repetition of small but powerful habits and techniques. There isn't usually a split second transformation which brings an overnight change but more a gradual shift of thinking patterns and confidence levels.
A massive part of building a happier, healthier mindset is self-worth and self-value – recognising how amazing you are, giving yourself permission to be top of your priority list sometimes and accepting and learning to love yourself exactly as you are - all of these things have a huge positive impact on mindset and on your life!
And increasing your own self-value can also start with small, simple habits which over time have a massive impact – and this is why I need to talk to you about your knickers!
Have a think about what knickers you are wearing right now? Are they old, greying ones, with a little bit if loose elastic (come on, we've all got them – and we hope we never get run over by a bus while we're wearing them!) - or are they new(ish), well fitting and lovely and worthy of viewing by any paramedic?
It may seem an odd question but the answer is potentially more powerful than you realise. If your underwear today is only going to be seen by you, and it is of the old, maybe even holy variety what it is actually saying is 'it's only me so it'll do'.
So I am going to ask you, from this point on, to wear your best knickers every day (and if you haven't got any, get some!). If every morning, you get dressed and you put on lovely underwear, not only do you not have to worry if you get run over by a bus (well not about your knickers being seen anyway!) but what you are also doing is sending a tiny, almost imperceptible message to yourself that you are worth it. Even if you don't realise it, the person walking around in nice knickers all day will have a different view of themselves than the person walking around in holy knickers all day!
Remember, massive mindset shifts often happen through the repetition of small, even seemingly unimportant habits. And your daily choice of underwear is one of them.
So, whether you're going to work, doing some decorating, watching the telly or going to Aldi – get your best knickers on! You're worth it.
I've made some massive work decisions lately – things I have been working towards for a long, long time but which I have finally acted on. I am now going all out in my mission to use all my skills in painting, writing and teaching to help you move your mindset to marvellous and I couldn't be more excited – or more scared at the same time.
You see, having a positive, healthy mindset doesn't mean never feeling scared, or overwhelmed or anxious – you still feel all these things, you just become better at handling them and overcoming them.
Take this week for example. I launched my new website and sent out my first 'Monday Mindset Manouevres' email – both massive steps in spreading my word and ones which I can sit here and know are backed up with decades of knowledge and experience which I can't wait to share.
Yet, as soon as they were out there – being seen by more people than just me and my trusted friends – the wobbles set in. And I have spent the last week being visited by a massive case of Imposter Syndrome – those thoughts that hound us when we push ourselves and put ourselves out there. Thoughts that make us question if we're good enough, thoughts like 'who do you think you are advising other people about mindset?' and 'you do realise people will just laugh at you?'
Imposter Syndrome is so common – you can bet that people you admire, people at the pinnacle of their career, also suffer from it. It can give us a wobble or left unchecked, it can be enough to make us give up, admit defeat and return to something less scary.
Everyone has moments of self-doubt and an urge to run away and hide – what we have to do is stand up to these neagtive thoughts and not let them take over. And that's what I have had to do this week. And here are a few ways I have done it, and ways you too can help drown out Imposter Syndrome when it makes an unwelcome visit:
1) SHARE HOW YOU FEEL
One of the biggest challenges I still face in keeping a happy, healthy mindset is sharing my feelings. I have gone through most of my adult life putting a brave face on things, being stoic and wearing the 'everything is ok badge' all the time. I used to think this made me strong and brave but I came to realise this is actually the easier thing to do – sharing how we feel, especially at times when we feel vulnerable, is the strongest and bravest thing we can possibly do. So I shared how I felt to a couple of close friends who straight away reminded me why I am doing what I am doing and how capable I am – instead of the doubts staying in my mind and multiplying I got them out there and together me and my wonderful friends went about smashing them!
2) SURROUND YOURSELF WITH POSITIVE MESSAGES
I am a very visual person and like to be surrounded by interesting and quirky things to look at. I also use this to make sure my overactive mind is fed a constant stream of the good stuff – I use little symbols, quotes and images all over my desk and studio to keep me feeling positive (below is just a few of them!) It is like being nudged throughout the day and reminded to keep going and stay confident. So use your own environment to cheer you on – an inspiring quote on your desk, a certain badge attached to your bag or change your phone wallpaper to something that will give you a boost every time you see it. (You could of course use any of my Mindset Memos to do this task perfectly ;))
3) REMIND YOURSELF IT'S NORMAL TO FEEL LIKE THIS
The danger of the negative thoughts that Imposter Syndrome brings along with it, is that we take them as fact and listen far too much to them. As soon as we remind ourselves that this way of thinking is just a natural and expected part of us moving out of our comfort zone and doing something challenging and new then it begins to lose its power. Imposter Syndrome is actually evidence that something positive is happening – it just has a really rubbish way of showing it. And remember, we all feel like this sometimes – what Imposter Syndrome reminds us is that we are all human and prone to self-doubt.
So next time you get hit with a bout of Imposter Syndrome – remember these steps and remind yourself that the fact you're suffering with it shows that you're doing something new and you deserve applauding not discouraging. Whatever new challenge is giving you the wobbles – hang in there and stand up to the doubts. There are many times during the last week that the doubts in my mind were talking quite loudly to me and I felt like throwing in the towel and seeing what jobs were being advertised locally! But I didn't – I took the action above and kept going. Just like you can.
* The Happy Mind Army Facebook Group is a place you can come and feel comfortable in sharing your wobbles as well as your mindset victories – click here to come and join us. And sign up here to receive my weekly email full of advice and motivation to help move your mindset to marvellous *
One of the most important factors in building - and keeping - a positive mindset is the influences that help mould it. To make sure we keep a healthy mind we need to make sure it is fed on a carefully controlled diet. In fact, a huge part of the entire journey towards becoming a happier and more confident person is keeping a very close eye on what we 'feed' ourselves every single day.
And I am not talking about food.
Every person we spend time with, the things we browse on social media, the things we read and the programmes we watch all form a continuous stream of nutrition for our mental appetite which, whether we are aware of it or not, helps form our opinions and beliefs about ourselves and the world around us.
The voice in our head is the product of all our influences, often moulded more by the negative things we have seen and heard and often quick to remind us of our limitations and fill us with self-doubt. Our beliefs about our own abilities and strengths are often formed by things we have heard from others, rather than the absolute proof of what we see we can achieve and our version of the world is shaped by news bulletins, Facebook posts and newspaper headlines.
The more we become aware of how our influences feed our mental map of everything, the more we can adjust the balance of it. The more positive the flow, the more positive the product. What we think, we become – so if we are fed with a constant stream of messages about what we can't do and how we are failing at life, we will continue on a downward path as this belief becomes truth. If we are surrounded by people who build us up, celebrate our victories (however tiny) and remind us that we can do great things, well, we really can do great things.
So, from this moment, watch your diet. Feed yourself with things that build you up, grow your confidence and remind you of all the things to be grateful for and limit your access to negative influences as much as you can. And here are 5 ways you can start doing it right now:
1) Pick your friends wisely! Just because we grow up, doesn't mean we suddenly have lots of confidence in who we are and what we do – in fact, the opposite is often true! And just as children often need reassurance, thrive with praise and sometimes need a little encouragement to take a big leap into something new – so do we! We need to be surrounded by people who are on our side, who can support us when we need it and remind us of all the wonderful things we can do when we lose faith in ourselves.
Life is far too short to spend time with people who want to belittle us or bring us down. 'Friends' like this, who compete and behave with jealousy, can be really damaging to our own happiness. So, walk away from them and invest your energy in friends who are loyal, honest and on your side.
The people we spend most of our time with have a huge impact on our own inner voice and our own opinion of ourselves, possibly more than anything else, so make sure it's a positive one!
2) Remind yourself that social media isn't real life! A quick look through your many social media feeds will no doubt fill you with glamourous pictures of friends (and famous people and people you vaguely know!) working out at the gym, enjoying an exotic holiday, demonstrating some impressive parenting feat or polishing their new car in the drive of their new house. It can become a barage of things you haven't got or haven't done.
I believe that we all spend far too much time on social media for our own good, and although I think there are a lot of positive things about it, I do think limiting our time on it in favour of more 'real life' influences is a massive step towards more positive mental health. We miss so many moments of 'ordinary joy' because we are looking at the world as presented on a phone screen – and it is these small moments that we keep missing that can remind us that the life we are in, at this very moment, has so much to be grateful for and shows us so many things we should be proud of. Yeah, we might want a bigger house, a nicer car, an exotic holiday somewhere – but rather than reminding ourselves constantly what we haven't got, let's spend a bit of time appreciating what we have got.
So, enjoy social media and all the good stuff it brings whilst always reminding yourself that real life happens right in front of us, not on a timeline, or in an app, and that if we stop competing and comparing we often become instantly more happy and satisfied with our lot.
3) Skip, block or turn off! Now this step is an important one – especially for my fellow overthinkers! Overthinkers are often very empathetic and can often tie themselves in knots working through how a given scenerio is going to make everyone else feel and then exhausting themselves trying to make it better for everyone! Empathy is wonderful gift to have, but it can be overwhelming when faced with a seemingly never-ending stream of sad, worrying or tragic stories and events.
The amount of information we are bombarded with on a daily basis, an hourly basis even, is just huge – too huge. Between news reports, front page headlines and posts popping up on every form of social media we see war, abuse, child cruelty, animal cruelty, illness, trauma, homelessness, suicide, missing people and countless other negative stories every hour of every day. And each time we see one, we will feel the pain, feel the guilt or feel the responsibility to solve it.
We really can end up with the weight of the world on our shoulders.
So edit that stream. I hate seeing nasty pictures on Facebook, especially if they involve animals or children, so I scroll on by. I don't look, I don't read. I haven't read a newspaper for a very long time and I rarely watch the news. I stick to lists on Twitter that focus on friends and people I am particularly interested in rather than being swamped by the full feed.
And does this mean that I don't care? No, maybe the opposite. Sometimes I care too much and it is too much to cope with. When I see these stories, I feel the panic a mum might feel, I feel the loss that a wife might feel and I feel an almighty sadness when I think what some people are going through. To live like that every hour of every day would be suffocating, and I fear for some, is suffocating.
So we need to stop carrying the world around with us. We need to care, be kind and do what we can within our own world, our own life and within our own limits. That is where our responsibility lies and where we can have the biggest impact.
4) Read some good stuff! One of the great things about the internet is that we now have at our fingertips an abundance of helpful and inspiring stuff to read. In between the funny cat pictures, amusing memes and the google answer for everything there is a huge resource of inspiring blogs, informative articles and downloadable books – many of them free. You can find new skills, learn about starting a small business or be motivated to feel more confident.
Use a bit of your social media time to browse some of this more inspiring content instead. Even if it is just for a few minutes a day it can have a massive impact on the positive diet we are trying to create – especially if that blog post replaces ten minutes you would have spent feeling inadequate browsing mansions over on pinterest!
Building and retaining this positive diet is about finding a stream of influences which all carry a positive message, and introducing a small amount of reading (of the right stuff!) into your daily feed is an incredibly effective way of doing it.
5) Tell yourself that you're doing ok! We are often experts at telling ourselves we have done something wrong, or beating ourselves up for saying something daft or talking ourselves out of doing something because we're not good enough. Well, we need to build up the habit of reminding ourselves that we're doing ok. Every day.
You got through the day at work without punching anyone – you're doing ok! You fed the kids today – you're doing ok! You got out of bed today – you're doing ok!
Sometimes, just getting through the day is a massive achievement. Other days we can take on the world. But every day, you must remind yourself – you really are doing ok.
During June 2019, I am challenging you to 'change your diet' - to take control of every influence which feeds into your mental appetite and to take steps to make it as positive and fulfilling as you can. Join us over in the Beyond The Crumpled Paper Facebook group where, during the month, I will be sharing more exercises, prompts and tips to help you do this...