Ever feel like you are trapped in a negative mindset and just don’t know how to break out? Maybe you’ve been aware enough to know thinking this way isn’t doing you any favours, but you just can’t seem to change it.
Before you scroll through the list nodding your head in agreement, let’s take a moment to consider what is really going on. When we break it down, it is simply where we focus our attention. You may have heard the saying “what we focus on is what we get, to the exclusion of everything else”. So what does that mean?
Imagine you are a photographer at a party. You don’t know anyone there, but you’ve been instructed to take some pictures. You go into one room, and your camera lens picks up a couple arguing. The lens is wide enough to see the people around them looking awkwardly at each other. The pictures will reflect the tension in the room. If you left that party now you’d perhaps have the impression it was a terrible party.
But what if you stopped in the next room on your way out and your lens captured a group of people laughing and having fun? What impression do you get then? If that was the room you went to first and left the party, you would think it was a great atmosphere?
The point is, we tend to use blinkers when we focus, like the size of a camera lens. It’s when we expand our awareness, our attention and our focus that we see the different colours, perspectives and richness of our surroundings.
So if you are feeling trapped in a negative mindset, you are choosing to focus only on the negative. The result? More of the same. If this sounds familiar, chances are that you’re making these 3 common mistakes.
1. You make it all about you
When you are focussed on yourself, it’s a sure-fire way to get yourself down. Especially if you are running a story that says any of these:
- You’re not good enough
- You don’t belong
- Nobody cares about you
When these negative stories run through your mind, you start to block out others. You start feeling sorry for yourself, like you are hard done by.
How to turn it around
Shift your focus to others. When you make it about other people, you are more inclined to see what you can do to resolve the issue or to serve them. Ask yourself these questions to move your focus away from yourself:
- How can I serve others?
- What can I do to help them?
- Where can I influence others to create the best result for them?
- What would delight them?
- How can I make them feel significant?
2. You become ungrateful
Once you are in the space of focusing on:
- All the things or people that annoy you,
- What you feel you righteously deserve, or
- Your resentfulness of others
Then you are walking down a dark alley at midnight. Danger. Turn around immediately and go back. There can only be trouble here!
How to turn it around
- Grab a pen and paper, and then write a list of everything you are grateful for.
- When you think you have exhausted your list, write another 10 things.
- Do this 3 times, until you start looping back to the beginning.
- Re-read that list every day
Keep a gratitude journal. Write down 3 things you are grateful for each day. Buy yourself a beautiful book, a gorgeous pen and make it part of your nightly or morning routine. Forever.
3. You have a scarcity mindset
When you’re feeling trapped in a negative mindset, you are commonly focusing only on the immediate at the expense of the future. You overvalue the here and now without connecting into the bigger picture of purpose. Coming from this perspective, we usually see all the hurdles and challenges, and find reasons why we can’t rather than how we can.
A scarcity mindset sees life as limited, like there is only one pie to go around. And if we are sharing this pie, others taking their piece will mean there is less for us. It evokes trade-off thinking and a focus on unfulfilled needs.
The danger with looking at life through a scarcity mindset is that it induces feelings of jealousy and sadness. We see other’s success as our failure. When we compare, we judge – both them and ourselves.
How to overcome it
Focus on abundance. When you are in abundance, you see that there’s plenty to go around, and enough for everyone, with leftovers. Abundance opens up options, possibilities, alternatives and creativity. Here are some ways to achieve a mindset of abundance:
- Choose to see the opportunities around you to work together, to partner with others
- Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, focus on what you do have
- Stop comparing yourself to others
- Celebrate the success of others, be the first to sincerely congratulate them
It’s an uncomfortable place when you are feeling trapped in negative thinking. The key is to do something different, change your focus and start to see how this impacts on your world. If you continue to do the same thing over and over again, you will continue to get the same results.
So where’s your focus today? If you’re feeling trapped, what are the 3 key actions you are going to START doing right now to turn it around?
Tags: focus leadership leadership coaching leadership development leadership qualities mistakes to avoid positive mindset success thought processes