“Have the humility to admit to yourself that, of all the things you need to know and don’t, one of the things that you don’t know well enough is yourself.” ~Eric Greitens
Last week, we established why mindset is so important for transformation and that you can in fact change it. Now let’s talk about how one might go about changing their mindset.
First, you must understand that your mind is constantly taking in internal and external input and adapting to what it learns. This is why our environment, culture, and inner dialogue are extremely powerful in shaping our mindsets.
This is why we start craving something we just saw in a commercial and also why we find ourselves becoming like our parents even when we swore we never would. 😉
Let’s take a look at the body image issue in America.
Everywhere you look, you’ll see a very specific body type being presented as what health and beauty look like. These bodies are dressed, lit, and then edited to unrealistic levels of perfection and then held up as the “standard”. This is what you need to look like to be confident and “bikini ready”.
Then, we grow up hearing women routinely complain about, pick apart, and tear down their own bodies. Instead of accepting compliments, there’s a smart remark. Instead of gratitude, there’s comparison. Instead of confidence in who they are as people, a million reasons why they’re not good enough.
Day in and day out, this is what we see and hear. So there you stand in front of the mirror and what have you been taught to do? Focus on the outside. Search for all imperfections. Compare with unrealistic images. Remind yourself why you’re not good enough.
And then we wonder why contentment feels like an impossibility, why we don’t know how to feel comfortable or confident in our own skin (no matter what our size), and why we can’t seem to dig up even a smidgen of love for our bodies.
It’s weird the way these things just kind of seep into the cracks and settle in our minds. Without even realizing it, your mindset is formed and shaped. No one is immune to it.
Once you understand this though, then you can actually do something about it.
Like it or not, this is the age and culture that you live in. It’s probably not going to change any time soon. This doesn’t mean you’re doomed, but it does mean that there’s really no room for passivity. When you just accept everything that’s coming in, that’s when you get into trouble. You have to pay attention and engage. You have to get to know yourself and become more discerning about what you let into your mind and more intentional with your thoughts, your words, and the way you live.
“Don’t wallow in the godless messages. I mean the messages in your own head.” ~ John Piper
What we think and say about ourselves is some of the most defining input our minds take in. Unfortunately, our flesh loves to point out all our shortcomings and imperfections and most of us have let our emotions take over our inner dialogue. We must do something to combat all the messages coming in. Instead of just listening, you gotta start preaching truth to yourself on a daily basis.
Here’s an example from my own life: I’ve struggled with body image for as long as I can remember. I was especially self-conscious about my butt and thighs. So I used to joke about them a lot. First, it was noticing the jokes. (Seriously, sometimes we get so used to saying certain things, we don’t even realize how often we do it.) Then I had to correct myself…..Out Loud. I’m sorry. My legs are not fat. I don’t know why I say stuff like that.
Over time, I started catching it before I said it. Then I started thinking it a little less. Now I struggle with it a whole lot less. In fact, I feel the most confident and comfortable I’ve ever felt in my own skin. Not because the imperfections aren’t still there or the thoughts never come up, but because I stopped listening and I started choosing to tell myself something different…THE TRUTH.
My legs are fully functioning and strong and allow me to do just about everything I love to do. Picking on the imperfections is not glorifying to God and not worth any more of my time. Plus, what if they never change? Do I really want to let that cast a shadow on my entire life? On my deathbed, will I be happy that I spent so much time and emotion on the size and shape of my legs?? I’m thinking….No.
I’m not sure if it ever goes away, but it does get easier the more you practice. When your mind starts to go to that dark place, when you hear the negative and harmful messages start up, shut it down. Fix your eyes back on Jesus and remind yourself of your values, your priorities, and what you know to be true. Changing your mindset starts here.
“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” ~1 Peter 1:13
We are the most sold to society in history. Everywhere you turn there are ads telling us what we need or magazines reminding us of what we don’t have. We have constant input coming at us and that input is usually not telling us the truth.
You can’t avoid everything of course, but there is some external input that you can control. You can be discerning and intentional about who you follow online, how much time you spend online, what you read and watch, and who you hang around with. How often do you really unplug and just let your mind wander and relax?? Knowing how the mind works, can you see how important this is if you’re looking to form your own opinions and thoughts and mindset?
Another personal example: I had to quit buying health magazines and following fitness competitors. For me, all they did was distort my ideas of what health looks like, both in my body and my diet, and encourage my perfectionism. I cut out a lot and got much more particular about the images of health that I was letting into my life. This allowed me to focus on my health as a whole. When I wasn’t seeing images every day of what some advertising agency wanted me to believe health looked like, it became easier to see through the lies and not let those images get into my head.
I’m not saying you have to do this exact thing. Everybody has different triggers.
It’s just so easy these days to be distracted and never tune in and figure out what works for you. I think it’s safe to say that most of us could stand get to know ourselves a little better and take a more active role in our own lives. You do have a choice as to how input makes you think and feel, but without some help and space, your mind can only withstand so much.
The point is not just to think nicer, more positive thoughts. The point is to filter input in a way that leads to better thinking and to think in a way that leads to better living.
Changing your mindset changes how you think, how you engage, and how you show up in your life. Change your mindset and you will change your life.