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How Do I Shift My Mindset (Just in Time for the New Year)?

It’s no secret that our mindset tends to dictate the way we interpret experiences throughout our lives. If we’re in a good mood we typically look on the bright side of things. Find the positives wherever we can. If we’re in a bad mood, everything’s terrible and nothing is going our way. During my sessions with clients, I find myself frequently discussing how we can shift our perspective. How we perceive things affects how we feel and interpret the event. Our mindset impacts our perception which impacts how we feel and how we react. As you can see, it’s all related and it all seemingly stems from our mindset. So, if our mindset has this much power, it’s helpful to find ways to shift our change it so we can move through life in a more positive way. 

As human beings, we collect information from all we experience. We learn how to function at school, at home, at work, etc. by observing others and absorbing information. Whether this is learned from our religion, education, culture, traumatic events, beautiful life altering events, all of this information is stored in our minds. This information influences us consistently. The experiences we have gone through in the past may be more present than we’d like. They impact our behaviors, identity, the way we respond to things, and yes, our mindset. 

Each and every one of us functions within three core human needs that drive our behaviors.

  1. Am I safe?
  2. Am I loved?
  3. Am I enough?

Whenever we experience a strong emotional response, it’s likely we’re responding to feeling unsafe, unloved, or unworthy. These are heavy feelings to experience. Human beings are social creatures that need and thrive off a sense of belonging and community to help mold our identities. When we feel this is at risk, we respond strongly. While this connection can be a beautiful thing, it can also cause people to stray from their true selves in order to fit in. Instead of finding a different community that’s right for them, making themselves right for the community they’re already a part of. Being part of a community makes us feel safe, and potentially loved, but if you have to change yourself to fit in, it’s hard to feel like you’re enough. The desire to fit in and skills to do so begin when we’re very young. These coping strategies can be hard to unlearn. So, then, what’s the answer to shifting our mindset? Being curious. 

I know many of you are now rolling your eyes at this blog post and about to exit out, but I urge you to keep reading. It’s not that much longer, I promise. Fostering our curiosity allows us to dive deeper into what drive us, becoming increasingly aware of the world around us as well as within us. Implement times to check in with yourself and ask yourself how you’re doing. Simply pausing can allow us to identify if we’re feeling slightly more negative than we’d like to be. If that’s the case, question which of the core needs listed above is being threatened. This is a tool also useful if you feel yourself reacting, potentially irrationally, in external situations. Often times we’re not reacting strictly to something happening in the present, but to all the other times this core human need has been threatened. By taking the time to examine the thought or response, we begin to cultivate the ability to identify our feelings before we actually respond. We also gain insight into the feelings behind the behaviors. With time and practice, we will learn how to regain control of our mindsets based on the here and now, not based on instances in the past. Shifting our mindset requires us to respond to things happening in the present moment which means releasing the strong hold of our past.

If you’ve found yourself struggling with a negative mindset or the ability to change your viewpoint, it may be useful to try counseling in Chicago. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our very skilled therapists today!

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