Our minds are incredibly powerful. What we think affects our behavior, our actions and our results. If your mindset gets caught up in a loop of negative thinking, it can hold you back from achieving your potential.
It is incredibly frustrating to have your mind hijacked with thoughts like, “The world is not molding to me. The people around me don’t understand me. I’m unseen. No one appreciates what I contribute.”
Negative thoughts like these go hand in hand with the feeling that the people around you don’t understand you, like they aren’t noticing the success you bring to the organization, like nobody sees you the way you should be seen.
This mindset has no place in anyone’s life, especially that of a high performer.
I was caught up in this type of loop years ago, and it affected every aspect of my life in a negative way. So I made a conscious effort to change it. It improved my life exponentially. My confidence and productivity shot upward once I stopped wasting my valuable time and energy on unhealthy, negative thoughts and actions
1. End the blame game
When something goes wrong, it’s easy to point the finger at someone else. That’s not useful. I know people who blame everything wrong in their lives on how they grew up. They assume their lives have been harder than other people’s, and they complain about how life never gives them a break.
We’ve all had both negative and positive experiences. We could dwell on the bad ones all day, but that’s not productive, and it stifles our creativity and confidence. The truth is, in many cases, our own poor choices are responsible for our tough times. This is hard to accept, but taking responsibility for our lives is the hallmark of a mature, high-performing individual.
Stop making yourself the victim. When you see yourself as a victim, you blame everybody else for whatever is wrong in your life. You see them as the problem when, in reality, you are the problem. You will be victorious when you change that mindset.
- When things go wrong, are you more likely to blame yourself or others? If you tend to blame something or someone else, commit to changing that dynamic. Notice when you begin assigning blame, and make a conscious effort to accept responsibility for it. Then take the actions required to turn the situation around.
- Think of a situation in your life that has caused you pain. Even if you could assign blame to someone else, what aspect of that situation might you have created, whether consciously or not? Was it a choice you made that ended up having negative consequences? Assess the situations in your life this way. See if you can discover a pattern of choices you’ve made in the past that you can avoid in the future.
2. Change your focus from “I” to “you” and “us”
One of the most common causes of frustration is when people expect the world to mold to them and their needs and wants. That mentality is weak. It’s wrong. It only gets you so far. In fact, it keeps you empty, dishonest, uncomfortable and always lost. That’s not who we want to be.
When I first went into business, I felt like I was lying on my back, punching upward at the world. Everybody was just getting in my way, and I needed to show them how great I could be.
I once took a leadership development course. I delivered what I thought was a great presentation. However, the instructors didn’t share my assessment! In fact, I became somewhat of an example of what not to do — I used the word “I” so many times that they actually counted the instances of “I” in my presentation! That annoyed me. I thought, “Well, why didn’t they tell me the rules?”
That was an early lesson for me on the importance of changing my focus from “I” and “me” to “you,” “us” and “we.”
When I choose to focus on you instead of on me, everything in my life gets better. When I’m lying down on the ground punching upward, I can’t be walking hand in hand with somebody, accomplishing the goal at hand together. It means I’m alone. It means I’m blaming everybody else. It’s a defensive position — everything is coming down at me, and I’m constantly fighting, resisting. But when I focus on others, I can lift them up.
It’s an extremely powerful concept, even though it requires just a simple shift in your brain. Now, the change wasn’t immediate for me, and it won’t be for you, either. It doesn’t happen overnight.
- Assess yourself honestly. Do you tend to focus more on “I” and “me” than on “us” and “we”? If so, leverage this awareness into action. Notice when you do this, and make the conscious choice to shift your focus off yourself and onto others.
- To make this fundamental shift in your mindset, you first have to be aware of it. It’s a frequency that you tune in to daily. And then you have to make a conscious choice to change your self-talk and the way you interact with others. This requires transforming a negative habit into a positive one, and it takes time and repetition.
3. Change the way you talk to yourself and others
A significant part of my mindset shift involved changing my self-talk. Then I had to shift the way I interacted with, and talked to, others. I stopped being defensive and saying or thinking things like, “I’m not going to ever do that” “and “I don’t do this” or “I won’t do that.” Now that language sounds more like, “It’s not my preference to do that, but how can we work this out? What do you think we could do together to make this better?”
Any challenge is so much easier if we work through it together. Now I view other people not as obstacles to my own progress but rather as people who are trying to help me.
Words are extremely powerful, both when you say them and when someone else says them. And your inner thoughts are just as powerful as the words you say out loud. So I changed both my self-talk and the way I communicate with other people.
- Begin paying close attention to the way you talk to yourself. Do you tend to use negative self-talk? Each time you notice it, stop — and change the self-talk to a more positive tone.
- Think of an example of negative self-talk you used recently. What was the situation? Why did you criticize yourself? What can you say to yourself in similar situations in the future that is more positive?
- To what extent could positive self-talk improve your confidence and your ability to function more optimally?
4. Choose not to be offended
There are times when other people are far from helpful and pleasant to us. People can be really ugly sometimes. But in those situations — just like in any life situation — we have a choice about the way we respond. In the end, there’s nothing to be gained from returning an insult or escalating an already tense situation. The best reaction is to simply choose not to be offended. This mindset shift also takes time, and you can adopt this outlook only after you have abandoned the victim mentality.
If someone walks up to me and says, “Nice hair,” I can get angry that they’re making fun of my baldness, but where will that get me? I choose not to be offended, even if the person’s intent was to offend me. So I can simply respond by saying, “Thank you” or ignoring the comment.
Sometimes, people say something neutral, not intending to offend us at all, but because we have such a negative mindset, we interpret the comment as an insult. They are choosing to receive the comment as an insult. Again, turning this around requires a keen awareness and a conscious change in your mindset. Notice what’s happening, and then choose a neutral reaction. The choice in how to react is always yours.
Life gets easier when you let perceived, or even actual, slights roll off your back. And when you refuse to let these things rattle you, people can’t take you down anymore. The truth is, most people aren’t there to take you down in the first place. If they’re not against you, they’re with you. And if they are against you, you will be much better off just choosing not to let them get to you. Conduct yourself with self-confidence. Communicate with them using “you” and “we.” And if they continue to try to walk all over you and it’s real, step outside of it and move on. Walking away isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength. You are choosing to rise above it.
When you take the high road, you are going inward and choosing to empower yourself. You are choosing to focus on your unique abilities and to help others focus on theirs.
- Think of a time when someone said something that sounded like an insult to you. How did you react? Now that you are aware of the importance of shifting your mindset, how might you react in a similar situation in the future?
- Have you ever perceived something that someone said to you as an insult, only to find out later that the person didn’t mean to insult you at all? Do some self-exploration. Why do you think you chose to perceive the comment as an insult? How could shifting your mindset improve your outlook and the way you interact with others?
Once you achieve this tectonic mindset shift, you will grow exponentially, both personally and professionally. You will be on your path to becoming the best version of yourself, you will be able to become the person you are meant to be. You will be better able to truly reach your human potential, you will no longer worry about what others think of you. You will be focused on the people around you and your team’s collective success.
A new mind-shift will lead to new (better) results.
As a LIFE Optimization specialist, I am deeply committed to living life in a way that honors and strengthens what I believe are the four most important aspects of our lives: love, impact, faith and energy. Shifting your mindset from others to you, and from blame to personal responsibility, is one powerful way to accomplish that.
Although this starts as a mental shift, it becomes a physical and spiritual shift as well. All aspects of your life become aligned. They all start to center on other people, on servant leadership, not on serving ourselves. What a powerful shift this is! What an unbelievable change it makes in your life!
How would that change your life? What would that do for you? How would that put you in a position where you could be a better version of yourself for your family, for your team and for the world? For whomever you’re serving? You will go from empty to fulfilled. You will feel like you have more to give the world because you’ll have more energy. You’ll feel better about yourself. Words from another person will no longer pierce you. If they do, you have to remind yourself that you’re better than that. Over time, you will become more resilient and confident.
This mindset shift has been life-changing for me, and I hope it can be for you, too.