Overcome Anxiety with a New Mindset!!
It’s interesting, you know, those people who came to me with those phrases… They weren’t being rude or shallow, no, they were trying to help. And I suppose, deep down, I didn’t know that the most obvious thing can be the most important thing of all.
These phrases were targeted at my mindset and just how overwhelmingly negative it was. But how simple is it to just change your mindset? And furthermore, how did it really help me deal with my PTSD and anxiety?
Welcome, one and all, to this little corner of enlightenment, where I sincerely hope these words are of some use to you.
So, just what is a mindset and why is it so important? If I asked you to define “mindset,” you would probably describe it as a particular state of mind or an attitude towards life. And, in essence, you would be correct. However, a mindset is much more than that.
It can be thought of as the accumulation of thoughts and beliefs that somehow shape your actions and vice versa. It is a mental inclination or disposition.
Mindsets are often confused with attitudes, but they are not the same thing. An attitude is a fixed way of thinking or feeling about something or someone. At times, attitudes can be reflected through our behavior, and they are mostly learned through our experiences in life.
A mindset is what shapes that attitude.
For example, if you cultivate a positive mindset, instead of griping because you missed the bus by mere seconds, you’ll be grateful because the next one will arrive in just five minutes.
It is crucial to construct and continuously cultivate your mindset because it will determine your attitudes, emotions, actions, and ultimately, your future.
In my case, I had reverted to a fixed mindset (which I’ll elaborate on in the following paragraphs). I just stood there, at that point in my life, and saw everything as being bad, dangerous, irritating, or just plain boring.
I felt misunderstood, abandoned, depressed, anxious all the time, and extremely exhausted.
What occurred next wasn’t some magic trick. I didn’t wake up one day, decide to change my mindset, and wait for the wish to come true.
But one day, after such a long time, I did wake up and choose to try something different. I chose to be consciously grateful.
So, just what types of mindsets are there? According to Carol Dweck, an American psychologist and professor at Stanford University, there are two kinds of mindsets: growth mindset and fixed mindset.
A fixed mindset is where nothing really depends on us, not even our talents. People with a fixed mindset (like I had before) don’t believe much in developing skills or values. To them, everything is just the way it is, and that can be either good or bad, but it’s not changeable.
On the other hand, a growth mindset is where people are aware of their power and potential. They are the ones who believe in dedication, hard work, and resilience. They develop a natural motivation towards growth, enlightenment, and see learning opportunities in every aspect of their lives.
Does this mean that a fixed mindset is bad? I don’t particularly like to think in such a binary manner. Therefore, I don’t believe there’s a “good” or “bad” mindset, but rather mindsets that benefit you the most and those that have a single purpose, usually protecting yourself from unexpected or incomprehensible threats.
As I mentioned earlier, mindsets can be taught and are usually passed down to us in our childhood. Then, they are shaped during our adolescence, and by adulthood, they are mostly set.
So, where’s the problem? If your parents raised you in a fixed mindset, it’s highly likely you’ll become an adult with a fixed mindset too. This can make it difficult to face challenges, accept failure, and dare to make changes, even when it’s desperately needed.
Even though I didn’t grow up in a household with a fixed mindset, I did develop one after my time in the army. That’s what trauma does. It breaks you down from the inside out and turns you into something completely different.
And before I move on with this post, I’d like to clarify something: having a growth mindset won’t make you into Mozart or a superhero of any kind. I’m not denying that inner talent or biological predispositions exist, but I’m pointing out the benefits of being flexible enough towards life and being an active agent in your life choices.
So, can a mindset be changed? Yes! Fortunately, mindsets can be changed. However, just like many other great things in life, it takes hard work and many emotional journeys.
If you have a strong fixed mindset, you may feel like giving up in a week or two because you’re used to immediate or short-term rewards. This is a long-term journey, but I promise you it will change your life for the better.
Now, let’s discuss how to change your mindset. In my experience, the easiest way to change your mindset is by changing your actions. Of course, you can’t change your actions if you don’t change your thoughts first.
It’s not necessarily a linear process, but it’s better if you take it step by step to be more aware of what you’re doing and how you’re feeling.
The following tips to change your mindset are not a 12-step guide, nor should they be followed in any particular order. I recommend trying those steps that naturally appeal to you and moving forward from there.
Change your actions. If you don’t feel like searching your head for those things that make you feel angry or sad all the time, I recommend taking action first.
For example, perhaps you’re looking for a new job. You have a strong monetary urge, and basically, any job will do for you in the short term. But it’s been four months since you were fired and you still haven’t had any success in your interviews.
Instead of complaining or feeling down, take action. Didn’t get the job? Ask the interviewer or recruiter why. Ask them what you could improve on and take those words with gratitude instead of anger.
What about something simpler? You don’t feel like reading at night but you still want to make it a hobby? Then don’t read at night! Change your schedule and test which hour is the best for you instead of complaining about it.
Stop with the mental storytelling. Overthinking helps no one. It never has and never will. If you have an obsessive personality, you’re probably familiar with those long nights where you make up stories in your mind about something that’s happening in real life.
It’s safe because you get to play and replay every single scenario you can think of. But it doesn’t guarantee that they are true.
This means you wasted a good night of sleep overthinking about something instead of waiting for an explanation, an outcome, or even asking someone what’s going on.
My suggestion is to try to bring your mind back to calmness whenever you feel like overthinking, just like meditating. Don’t force it. A good first step is being aware of your overthinking. After that, try to stop it consciously and take your thoughts to a gentler place, especially if you’re in bed.
Clean your house. Being an active decision-maker in your life also means being the adult you need to be. Our surroundings play a huge role in our mood, and having a messy house or room only brings us down into depression and anxiety.
It’s mostly a matter of energy and visual pleasure, but cleaning your house or room once a week will help you process your emotions and feel safe and comfortable at home.
I also recommend getting rid of things you really don’t need. Hoarding is an attitude people with anxiety disorders develop quickly. Getting rid of something is perceived as a negative action because it could have some value in the future, hence throwing it in the trash only enhances that anxiety.
Start with something easy. Do you have clothes you haven’t worn in years? Donate them! Make more room in your closet to feel open to new things. This takes us to the next tip for changing your mindset.
Be the best person you know you can be. When I tried this, I decided to do something good for one person every day. Of course, there were days where I would get out of bed and have no idea how I could do something good under heavy rain on a Sunday morning, but there’s always something. You just need to see it.
Good things could be answering a text, giving a coin to someone who needs it on the street, being more patient with a child, offering your seat on the bus, or simply being polite to phone vendors.
I propose you try doing something good every day for a week. Come back later and tell me how you feel.
Set short-term goals. There’s this interesting thing about humans. We want to satisfy our needs immediately, and living in the 21st century with 5G, smartphones, watches, streaming TV, and food delivery, it’s no wonder that this urge is so strong these days.
If you set short-term goals, you make sure to build motivation slowly because you will see those emotional green checkmarks in our life that tell us, “Hey! You did it! Congratulations!”
For example, a common goal for many people who come to me for advice is to have better eating habits. Not just for their body image but also for their health.
My suggestion is to plan ahead. Sundays are usually calm days, so try to plan in the morning what you would like to eat during the week and prepare it that day, so you can avoid excuses like being too tired during the week to eat healthily.
And finally, if you feel like having a pizza, do so. Changing your eating habits is a slow process, and it definitely isn’t about not eating or being hungry all the time. It’s about having a balance between the tasty things and the food your body appreciates.
Accept your failures, and more importantly, accept that you will fail again. Don’t be scared of failure. That fear we learned when we were young and that accompanies us until our adulthood is useless.
What happened the first time you tried to stand by yourself? You fell! And you cried and got scared, but after a few tries, you knew it was okay! Falling is part of the process, and it didn’t stop you from standing straight.
Whatever keeps you a prisoner of shame and regret, it’s time to let it go. A good way to do so is to face yourself in the mirror or in front of an empty chair if you feel more comfortable talking to “another” person.
Say out loud what happened, understand that it’s part of your past, and forgive yourself. We’re only humans, not robots or artificial intelligence.
A growth mindset is better cultivated in kinder spirits. Nobody will love you more than you will love yourself, so why keep postponing it?
If you need help overcoming anxiety and developing a growth mindset, don’t hesitate to get in contact with me now. I am here for you.