Your mindset can be one of the hardest things to change. This is mainly due to the way that we arrive at our mindsets. Mindsets are often formed because of our upbringing, culture, life experiences, and beliefs. Mindsets tend to be deep seated and can often be a challenge to change.
I wanted to take a moment to discuss mindsets because you must be aware of the mindsets that you hold when considering how you respond (or not) to change. Let us explore a few mindsets.
Optimistic vs. Pessimistic. The optimist sees life through rose colored glasses. Everything is good, and if something bad happens, the belief is that things will get better. The pessimist believes that everything is always dark and bleak and if, by chance, something good does happen, they will believe that is a fluke. When the subject of making any type of change comes up, it will take more effort for person with a pessimistic mindset because the first battle will be the negative outlook on the change. You would have to get past this negative outlook before you could begin to take the steps to make the change.
Immediate success vs. Process. This is one that I am currently working on. The conflicting mindsets of a persons who wants overnight success versus the person that feels that everything is a process and success is attained one step at a time. The good thing is that no matter what the desired change is, a person with each of these mindsets will try. The person with the mindset that everything is a process will be more likely to succeed as they will understand that setbacks and bad days are a part of the process of change. The person who believes in overnight success will be more likely to quit at the first setback or if the change comes too slowly.
Hard work vs. Lucky break. There are those who believe that success comes from hard work. These individuals understand that change is a process but that it also involved hard work. Anything worth having normally involves some kind of hard work. The person who feels like success only comes by the luck of the draw will not truly try to make a change. If a half-hearted attempt at change is made and they fail, they will assume that the change was not meant for them. I see this a lot when people speak of professional goals. Some people believe in working hard to get the recognition needed to obtain a promotion. Others believe that it is all about who you know, and skills and knowledge does not really matter.
Let us consider these mindsets in the context of change. Can you really be successful with a diet if you believe all success should be immediate and that you will not have setbacks? Can you realistically begin to work towards a dream or a goal if you believe that successful people are only successful because of who they know and not because of hard work? Here are a few ways that you can change your mindset to see the change that you are working so hard for.
- Clarify what you want to change. It is important that you know the why behind your need to change your mindset. If you can identify the reason behind the change in mindset, the change is more likely to last.
- Make the decision to change. This sounds like a lot like the first point but there is a slight difference. The first point is speaking to knowing why you should change – this point is you deciding to change. Many of us can know the benefits of a change and still not decide to make the change. So, a definitive decision to make a change is necessary.
- Challenge your thoughts. Any type of change can be hard and changing a mindset is no different. When old thoughts that are connected to old habits begin to push their way in, it is imperative that you make a conscious effort to push back against those thoughts and focus on your new positive thoughts.
- Give yourself a break. Mindsets were not formed overnight, and they will be not be changed overnight. Give yourself room to have a set back if you go slip to your old mindset and ways. Just be conscious of this, reset, and move forward.
- Change actions. Operate in the actions of your new mindset even if you are still working to completely change your mindset. If you have determined that the change is your mindset is needed, begin to act as if your mindset is already changed. It may feel unnatural at first, but you will eventually begin to walk in your new mindset and habits will begin to change.
What mindset pattern or patterns do you fall into? What do you think can help you come out of it?
Join me next time where I will be discussing lifestyle changes.
If we were all not living through these unusual circumstances associated with COVID-19, this month would have featured a lot of festivals, walks, and other activities that seek to bring awareness to and dispel myths about autism. Education about the diagnosis of autism and shining the spotlight on the individuals who have been diagnosed with autism is what this month is all about. As Autism Awareness Month comes to an end, I started to think about my 12-year-old son, Zion, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3 and a few of the things he has taught me.
Everyone has hidden jewels. If you ever met Zion, in the first ten minutes, you could probably tell me right off the bat the things he does not do. He has a hard time making eye contact, he is not going to engage you in a long conversation, and he has a hard time understanding social cues and tones. Years of advocating for Zion has made it to where I am his spokesperson, always trying to give people a different impression of him. Zion loves to learn, my son is a fantastic writer, and my son has an eye for photography and videography. My son is more than his diagnosis and people, in general, are typically more than what they initially present to the world. I believe that there is something positive in everyone – you sometimes just have to take the time to find those hidden jewels.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. Zion is pretty even-tempered now but when he was newly diagnosed and before he started the therapies that helped him process his emotions, he would have meltdown and tantrums (and there is a difference between the two) several times a day. Being the perfectionist that I was, I would often add more stress on top of an already stressful situation because I would want to carry on with my day and complete my daily to-do list. I would feel like the worst mother ever at the end of the day when nothing got accomplished. But I learned to change my perspective. At the end of a tough day, my laundry may not have been folded, there may have still been dishes in the sink, and I may have never gotten to the store. But Zion was calm. And, most importantly, he had not injured himself or others during his tantrum. The things that did not get done no longer mattered. And guess what? Now Zion washes and folds his own clothes, vaccums and sweeps the whole house, and can even make simple meals for himself. It gets better – don’t waste time worrying about the small things.
Everyone needs a cheerleader. From the time I realized that my son was not reaching his milestones timely, I have had to advocate for him. From going back and forth with the pediatrician about getting a referral to a specialist for Zion to be formally diagnosed to finding the perfect school for him, advocating is a full-time job. But, everyone needs a cheerleader. Confidence in yourself is great but having that cheerleader is what gives you that extra boost. Zion knows he is smart and capable of doing many things that others think he would not be able to do because of his diagnosis. But me being his cheerleader gives him that extra boost because I am there – loud and proud – reminding Zion and everyone else of great he is, how smart he is, and how talented he is. Just as cheerleaders stand on the sidelines and let the whole arena or stadium know how great their team is, everyone needs that person who encourages them.
I want to end this post by offering some words of encouragement.
Be kind to yourself. There will be good days and bad days – count every day that you make it through as a win. Don’t be hard too hard on yourself.
Accept help. I often felt that nobody could care for Zion like I could – and to be honest, I still feel this way sometimes. But I have learned to accept help from the people that my son knows and is comfortable with and that knows my son, his triggers, and how to calm him. It took me a while but I finally got there.
Don’t take the aggression personally – this is harder on them than on you. Tantrums, meltdown, and aggressive behaviors are sometimes scarier for the child than it is for us as parents. It took many therapists to convince me that Zion was acting aggressively at home and not at school because I was his “safe place” – a place where he knew he could release everything that was pent up in him. Don’t take it personally – your child knows your love is unconditional.
Advocate! Advocate! Advocate! Resources for special needs children can sometimes be hard to find. Ensuring that they get everything they need to reach their fullest potential can be very hard due to this lack of resources. Advocating for your child will be the biggest “I Love You” you can give them.
YOU GOT THIS!!!! Being a parent of a child with autism has caused me to experience a wide range of emotions depending on the circumstances. It has exhausted me, angered me, scared me, filled me with anxiety, and has even brought me to tears on several occasions. But it has also made me excited as I look at Zion and the handsome pre-teen he has become, it has forced me to be creative in how I ensure he gets what he needs, and it even makes me smile when I realize that my son is a pretty cool kid. And I know that – despite the frustrations and setbacks that he may endure – Zion will be okay.
Celebrate your child. Let the world know how great your child is. I will start. Zion is 12 years old. He loves to watch YouTube, eat pizza, swing, put together 500 piece puzzles, and as I stated before, he even likes to do chores around the house! Zion is smart, loves to give big hugs, and loves his family. He is a great kid who smiles a lot and loves to make others smile.
Celebrate your child or tell how you spread awareness about autism in the comments below!
Do you want more than what you have now? “More” looks different to different people. More, for some, means buying a bigger house. More, for others, means getting a better paying job. To get more, you have to do more. Sounds logical, doesn’t it? Many people want more without doing any extra than what they are doing right now. If the salary from your job is not allowing you the lifestyle that you desire, you should either find another job or create an additional stream of income. I have always wanted more but for so long, I was waiting for something to drop out of the sky and fall into my lap. I was missing the part where I had to do something extra to make it happen. Eventually, I realized that I had to do more to get more. The victory is sweeter when you have worked hard to get where you want to be. What extra thing are you going to do to get to the “better things”?
There is always the possibility that something could go wrong. You can finally start that business you have been dreaming of but be fearful that it will not take off as you want. You can have your eye on a certain position at work but be fearful that someone else is selected for that position. I am not here to tell you that bad things do not happen – we all know that is not true. What I am here to tell you is that focusing on our desired positive outcome is more productive than focusing on our fears on the things that could go wrong. Focusing on the things that can go right will keep you moving toward your goal. Focusing on the things you fear is more likely to get you to a place where you begin to doubt your goals. And if there is enough doubt, you will lose your motivation to even try to reach your goals. Losing motivation will cause you to become stagnant. To be successful, you must focus on the positive and only the positive. What will you do to change your mindset to only focus on the things you desire?
We all set goals for ourselves. We talk about them, we tell others about them, we start taking steps to achieve our goals, and then something happens. Right when we are at the point of reaching that goal, we don’t. Why is that? We can point to a lot of things that may not have gone as planned or may not have fallen into place just like we wanted it to. But how much of that did we do to ourselves?
Oxford dictionary defines sabotage as “to deliberately destroy, damage, or obstruct (something)”. If we are to use that definition, logic tells us that self-sabotage is the act of destroying, damaging, or obstructing ourselves. So what does this look like in real life?
- Canceling an interview for a job that you are more than qualified for
- Talking yourself out of pursuing a great opportunity
- Giving up on a diet that you were beginning to see progress with
- Accidentally (or not) missing a critical deadline
You often hear about the fear of failure but I believe that very often people have a fear of success. It sounds strange because no one readily admits that they do not want to be successful, yet they make decisions that block themselves from the success that they say they want. The following are a few reasons why people have a fear of success in some remedies that can help you.
Fear of Failure
The easiest way to not have to maintain a goal is to ensure that you do not reach it in the first place. You diet and get to your ideal weight but who wants to hear what everyone has to say if you gain all of your weight back? Or you may talk about this great promotion you want but do you want to explain to everyone why you did not get the job that you felt so confident about? The fear of failure contributes to the fear of success because you talk yourself out of starting a goal so you don’t have to deal with the disappointment if you do not achieve this goal.
Remedy: Push through the fear. It sounds simple but it is challenging. Think of all of the good that can come from you achieving your goal. Even if you fall short, you tried and that is a step that many wish they dared to take. The fear of failure is full of what-ifs. Challenge your what-ifs. I had to challenge a lot of what-ifs when I started this blog. I would think what if a lot of people don’t like the blog? But I had to tell myself, but what if they do? I would think what if nobody cares what I have to say with if what I have to say? But then I would think that this could be just the point of view that somebody needs to hear? Everyone gets apprehensive but the key is to push through this apprehension to get to your goal.
Being stuck in your comfort zone
Your comfort zone is your safe space where everything is predictable. You can always be certain of how things are going to go and how certain people will behave. Even when you know that this comfort zone is not going to get you to your goals and desires, you stay there. It is not fulfilling, but you know what to expect. Dreams die in the comfort zone because you are not willing to step outside of it and do something different. Getting something you have never had requires doing something that you have never done.
Remedy: Make the conscious decision to do what makes you uncomfortable. For example, one of my comfort zones was to respond to online conversations but not to necessarily initiate conversations. Starting this blog and my Facebook page has made it to where I am starting to initiate conversations. Even now it still feels unnatural, but I do it anyway. To achieve any level of success, you must do something that feels unnatural. This is a sign of personal growth. Personal growth often requires you to do those things that feel unnatural but is necessary for success.
You can say and think so many negative things to yourself that you begin to believe these negative thoughts. If you are already believing that you are not worthy or that you are not as good as the next person or that you will never be able to reach your goal, then you will never even attempt to try or your attempt will be halfhearted. In essence, you are defeating yourself mentally before you even begin your quest to reach your goal. Oftentimes what we think of ourselves becomes a reality and we end up settling where we are when we have the potential to be so much more.
Remedy: Realizing that feelings are not facts is the first step in combating negative self-talk. I make this very point in one of my previous posts that you can read here. Realizing that the way you feel about yourself becomes your reality, the best thing you can do is to speak positivity into your life. Tell yourself you are as qualified as the next person despite what you feel. Tell yourself that you can reach and maintain the goals that you have set for yourself despite what you feel. Is this as easy as it sounds? No. But you have to get in the habit of challenging your thoughts especially when they have the potential to stunt your personal growth.
The fear of success can stop you from growing if you allow it to. Becoming conscious of and overcoming these things will help you on your path to personal growth. Have you ever had to contend with any of these things? What helped get you over your fear of success?
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“I am too old to start a new career.”
“I won’t be selected for this new position, so I will not even apply.”
“I am not going to be able to maintain this new workout regimen, so I will not even start.”
Many of us have either thought or verbalized statements like these at some point. These are the thoughts that we have when we are at the point where we have to make a decision and self-doubt begins to creep in. These are the thoughts that prevent you from living your dreams. These are also the thoughts that keep you living in your comfort zone when you have the potential to do so much more. This was my story for a very long time. I cannot even begin to tell you the many opportunities that have passed me by due to thoughts like these drowning out all of the positive thoughts and encouragement that I was receiving from those around me.
I would often try my best to move forward although these thoughts were swirling around in my head, but it would be extremely difficult because one of two things would happen. One thing that would happen would be that I would move forward with whatever I was hesitating to do but I would do it half-heartedly. In other words, I would go through the motions but would not put much effort into it because I did not believe that I would be successful at it anyway. The other thing that would happen is that I would sabotage myself by talking myself or overthinking myself out of the opportunity. I would allow these thoughts to take over to the point where I would consciously make decisions that would all but guarantee that I would not be able to take advantage of the opportunity.
I still sometimes battle with these types of thoughts but here are a few of the things that I do to stop them before they take over to the point where I miss opportunities.
1.Feelings Are Not Facts. When you are feeling like you are not deserving of or should not pursue an opportunity, that feeling is very real to you at that moment. The feeling is real to the point that you will debate on whether you should go after the opportunity that has presented itself. Always remember that feelings are based on what you feel while facts are based on what is known to be true. This sounds simplistic but it is easy to confuse the two. At the age of 40 or 50, you may feel that it is too late for you to embark on an entirely new career or go back to school. Yet our news feeds are filled with stories of 80 and 90-year-olds that have just received their high school diplomas or college degrees. We always hear about people have overcome immeasurable odds to start families, businesses, and careers. We see all of these examples and think how wonderful it is that these individuals accomplished these great feats but for some reason we allow our thoughts to make us think that we cannot accomplish things as great as this or greater. I have often felt that I am too old for this, have too much going on for that, or am just not qualified to do the next thing. And when someone would point to someone with a similar set of circumstances to mine and as an example of how I could do something, I would just dismiss them and just say, “Well, that is them. I can’t do that.” But the reality is that that statement reflected my feelings, not the facts. Everyone has some set of circumstances that could make anything hard but if you have been blessed to see another day then you have another opportunity to do something different – despite how you feel.
2. Would You Say This to Your Child? We often have so many inner conversations with ourselves during the day that we do not realize how many of these thoughts are negative and downright mean. My daughter, who is a junior in high school, came to me after not doing as well as she thought she should have done on her very first test in one of her AP classes. She was so disappointed and was even contemplating dropping the class because she was finding it difficult to understand the material. I went into full supportive parent mode as I told her that she was more than able to handle the class or she would not have been recommended for it. Also, I reminded her that she cannot define her whole experience in the class based on the first test that was taken when she was still getting a feel for her teacher’s teaching style and testing style. A few weeks prior I had changed positions at work and was having a challenging time adjusting since I had been in my previous position for several years. Even though everyone at work was very encouraging as I got settled into my new role, I was my biggest critic. I would have never said to my daughter those things that I was saying to myself. To my daughter and others, I am very encouraging and supportive but I was degrading and harsh with my own thoughts. Now that I have become more conscious of this, I try to filter my thoughts by asking myself if this thought is something I would say to someone I love or care about. This normally helps me put a positive spin on a negative thought.
3. Try Not to Overthink. Overthinking is the death sentence of so many dreams and aspirations. Before you can set a goal in your mind for any significant time, you are thinking about every single thing that could go wrong and one negative thought leads to the next negative thought. I cannot begin to tell you the many books and ideas for books that never saw the light of day because I had more reasons why I should not pursue being an author than why I should just go for it. The act of overthinking can paralyze you to the point where you cannot even visualize anything better for yourself. I have learned that the best way to overcome overthinking is just to go for the thing that you are hesitating to do. This is much easier said than done but sometimes you have to move forward despite the negative thoughts. I almost did not start this blog because of my overthinking. I had all sort of thoughts – What if nobody likes it? What if it is not good? I have never done this, what if I do it all wrong? What if I cannot maintain it? With all of these thoughts going through my head, I published my first post. It was not easy but I did it and I am proud of myself for doing it. And you will be proud of yourself for stepping out and starting something that you almost talked yourself out of. Overthinking will keep you in your comfort zone and almost guarantee that you will be unable to move forward with any goals or dreams that you have for yourself.
The goal is to always strive to be a better version of yourself and sometimes that may mean stepping out of your comfort zone. So many times we could get so much further if we just got out of our own way. Hopefully, this post will assist you in eliminating those negative thoughts that hinder you from growing and accomplishing all that you are capable of.
Comment below as to the different things that you do to combat negative self-talk.
According to Ellen Ciuczak and Ryan Miller’s November 12, 2019 article in USA Today, that is the day most people give up on their New Year’s Resolutions. That is not to say that many people do not stick to their resolutions and achieve the goals that they have set for themselves; that is just the date that most people who are unsuccessful fall back into their old habits.
If I am being honest, most of my resolutions over the years failed before January 17. But this year I was determined to join the ranks of people who have been successful with achieving their resolutions. My one and only resolution this year is to fulfill a resolution that has been a resolution for several years: to write for an audience. This blog is the first of many steps to achieve that goal.
I am Gayle Walker and I have been creatively writing since I was 12 years old. I have half-written several novels and middle-grade books that never saw the light of day for fear that they would not be good enough. I have had the idea for this blog for a couple of years but never started it for the same reason that I never finished a book: the fear that my blog would not be good enough or interesting enough to attract readers. And as cliche’ as this sounds, one morning I woke up and made the conscious decision to change the entire way that I thought about myself. As a social worker, I empower and encourage people daily. So why not go a step further and empower, encourage, and educate others through my love of writing? I realized that my writing is good enough and I am more than qualified to reach out to people to uplift their spirits and empower them to be greater than they may have ever imagined.
I envision The Serenity Room to be a place where you will be encouraged, motivated, and will hopefully come to the realization that you are not alone in many of the daily struggles that we all experience. Have you ever experienced an emotion so overwhelming that you did not even want to share how you felt with anyone because you just knew that they would not understand what you were feeling? Only to finally confide in a trusted person and realize that not only have they felt that way, but many others have also. Remember the relief you felt of knowing that you are not alone and others have felt this way too? I want The Serenity Room to start conversations that were once shied away from. I want you to read the posts published in this blog and either learn something or gain a firm reaffirmation of what you already knew or believed. I want you to realize that you are bigger and better than every negative thought that has taken up residence in your spirit.
As I stated earlier, I am a social worker and do not profess to be an expert in any topic that I will be posting about. The majority of my posts will be on topics that are personal to me that I have researched for my self-growth. I hope that you will be empowered as I seek to empower myself.
As of now, I will be posting every other week about a wide range of topics. Some upcoming topics include standing in the way of your own success, the impact of negative self-talk, and being open to the change you claim you seek. One blog a month will be dedicated to either special needs families or families of first responders as my family includes both. Over the years, I have learned that a lot of things I go through as a mother of a child with special needs are similar to what other mothers experience, but some things are unique to families that have children with special needs. While the posts will be about the experiences of the families of special needs children or first responders, I hope you will still take the time to read the post to gain an understanding of the reality of others.
Between attracting an engaged audience, gaining exposure, and making a name for myself as an author and blogger, I will also like to eventually profile those individuals who have persevered against incredible odds. No matter what topic is being discussed, please feel free to make comments and suggestions either in the public forum or via email. In the end, my biggest goal is for The Serenity Room to grow into something bigger and better than I could have ever imagined.
For me, it all begins with this post. A post that I have been dreaming of posting for a very long time. This is my very first step to overcoming all of the things that has prevented me from doing this before today.
What is stopping you from doing that thing that you have been dreaming of doing for so long?
What will your first step be in 2020?