Before talking about how can you change your mindset, let’s define what a mindset is. A simple way to look at mindset is as a set of beliefs about what you can or can’t do in certain situations.
According to Professor Carol Dweck, there are two types of mindsets, a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. A fixed mindset in one that you believe you have a limited amount of potential in an area, let’s say math, and you’ll never get any better. Because you don’t believe that you can improve at whatever you are attempting, you don’t get better.
This mindset will keep you stuck in place, right where you are, forever. This is not a helpful mindset.
A growth mindset is one where you try something, like practicing martial arts, and you get feedback from your efforts. Using the feedback you receive, you make adjustments and try again, improving each time you try. This mindset will help you find opportunities that exist in your life and will give you a pathway to take advantage of them.
While there are many ways to nurture a growth mindset, two of my favorites are mindfulness and CBT. This is what we’re going to look at today.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a type of meditation that encourages you to stay in the moment. This allows you to step back from what’s going on in your mind and detach from it. This let’s you examine your thoughts the way a scientist would.
When practicing mindfulness, you’re not trying to silence your thoughts but rather trying to change the way that you respond to them. This helps you come to the realization that your negative emotions are not who you are, but rather temporary events that will pass.
While mindfulness is very helpful in helping to take back control of your thoughts, when you combine it with CBT, you can do even more.
The letters CBT are an acronym for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. A technique from CBT often used in therapy sessions is something called ‘cognitive restructuring’.
Simply put, cognitive restructuring is a technique you can use to change your mindset. It does this by allowing you to think differently about certain situations giving you the ability to better adopt to them. This different way of thinking can also help you become more focused and productive.
Using Mindfulness with CBT to Change Your Mindset
You can use mindfulness and CBT as a 2-step process to change your mindset. First you use mindfulness to identify and become familiar with your negative thoughts. Then you use cognitive restructuring in order to change them.
But how do you use cognitive restructuring to change your mindset?
Let’s examine a few methods.
1. Thought Challenging
The first method is called thought challenging. Here, after you mindfully examine your thoughts and beliefs, you challenge them to decide if you should believe them or not.
So for example, maybe you are afraid of public speaking because you grew up with a stutter. You believe that if you stutter while speaking, people will laugh at you. Using thought challenging, you examine those thoughts and identify if they’re valid concerns or not.
Ask yourself, “How likely are those things to happen?”
Next, ask yourself, “Could I cope with them if they did?
Hopefully you realize that most people are kind enough that they won’t laugh at you if you stutter. Instead, there’s a good chance they’ll listen politely until you finish simply to be kind!
You could also come to the conclusion that it doesn’t really matter what strangers think about your stutter. This is especially true for people you’re never going to have to see again most likely anyway.
2. Hypothesis Testing
The next method is known as hypothesis testing. It’s similar to thought challenging but with a twist. Instead of simply thinking about your theory, you’re going to test it to see if it’s founded in reality.
Going back to public speaking. Let’s say you are afraid of public speaking because you think that you might ‘choke’ and people will laugh at you. To test this hypothesis, you need to find an audience to go in front of and then see what happens when you don’t say a word.
While you will probably feel incredibly awkward, what you’ll also find is that no one laughs. Even more, nothing bad comes from it.
Like any good scientist, you tested your hypothesis and got your results. You results proved it wrong. You even found that the worst-case scenario really isn’t all that bad! Now you can use your evidence to change your mindset.
Developing a Black Belt Mindset
Like the growth mindset, the black belt mindset is one that helps you believe that, with enough effort and feedback, you can accomplish great things. A black belt becomes a black belt through practice, instruction and then learning from feedback. If you follow this same process, you can become a ‘black belt’ at what you want to do as well.
While you may be stuck right now because you have a fixed mindset, if you use these tips to change your mindset, you can accomplish great things. All you have to do is use these tips to adopt the habits of all successful people – work hard and build your knowledge base from the feedback you receive.