There is a transformative power to be found when you improve your mindset.
In this article, we explore strategies to help cultivate a positive outlook and overcome challenges.
In the face of adversity, our mindset becomes the compass that guides our journey toward resilience and growth.
As Dumbledore wisely stated in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
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Even the word ‘challenge’ can be scary to some people.
But challenges allow you to test your limits.
They’re also an opportunity for learning and growth.
Try to forget about the outcome and enjoy the experience.
1. Take a breath.
Your breath is a powerful tool.
You can use it to uplift and energize yourself.
You can also use it to relax.
Let’s say it’s the first day of your new job, and you feel apprehensive.
You can change your body chemistry in seconds by taking a few deep breaths.
When you are feeling anxious or nervous, your breathing is shallow.
This is where the breath is concentrated in the upper part of the chest, making it inefficient for oxygen absorption and causing low discharge of carbon dioxide.
Shallow breathing harms the body by sending a distress signal to the autonomic nervous system (associated with the fight or flight response).
With practice, you can cultivate a deep and even flow of breath.
This will promote a healthy exchange of gases and signal your body to relax.
If you feel your breathing is shallow, pause: inhale deeply and slowly, then exhale.
Just a few cycles of this can instantly change your mood and make you eager to start your day.
2. Watch your thoughts.
One of the key ways to improve your mindset is to understand it.
Whatever you are about to take on, first note what you are telling yourself about this challenge.
For example, I recently completed a Tough Mudder Race (a 20km, military-style obstacle course) that fully tested my physical abilities and limits.
Yes, it felt scary when I first signed up.
I wondered how I would survive running 20 kilometers, climbing over 15-foot walls, and swimming in icy water!
Before the race, I focused on the positives instead of thinking it would be too hard, that I might get hurt or not finish.
It would be a fun event with my friends.
Yes, it would be challenging, but I imagined myself crossing the finish line with a smile, feeling proud of the accomplishment.
During the race, I kept telling myself that I was strong and would keep going to reach the finish line – and I did!
Watch your thoughts and notice when your mind is going down a negative spiral of ‘what ifs?’
When negative thoughts dominate, catch yourself and swap them out for positive ones.
3. Acknowledge your fears.
While you can use your breath and thoughts to prepare yourself for any challenge, it’s important to acknowledge your fears.
Ask yourself: is your fear due to a real or perceived threat?
Let’s say you are about to give a presentation to a group – public speaking is a common source of fear for many people.
Instead of ignoring that heavy feeling in your belly, or allowing it to make you physically sick, take a few moments to walk through some possible scenarios.
Sure, you might forget some points you want to say, then what?
Knowing how you will manage unplanned obstacles will help you quell your fears.
Acknowledging your feelings will help you discern between real and imagined fear.
4. Seek out support.
No matter your challenge, chances are, you are not the first person to face it.
Think back to a previous problem you solved with the help of your family, friends, or even with the assistance of an online community.
There is usually ample support available – yet we often put up barriers to seeking support.
Common barriers to seeking help and support are feelings of being stigmatized or fear of embarrassment.
It takes courage to reach out and ask for help.
If you are uncomfortable talking to family and friends, seek support online or in your greater community.
By asking for support, you will find others have faced or are facing, similar challenges to yourself.
Learning from others will help ease your mind when dealing with your challenge.
5. Take the first step to improve your mindset.
Taking the first smallest step and evaluating how you feel as you go will help you navigate any life challenge.
Nothing will occur until you take action.
For example, if you seek a long-term relationship with a significant other, nothing will happen unless you first put yourself in a position to meet people.
The next step is to get out on a first date.
Taking small steps will cause you to break down any challenge into manageable pieces.
It will also help build your confidence as you accomplish each step, improving your mindset.
Improve your mindset and face challenges with a new perspective
Challenges are a natural part of life and typically cannot be avoided.
Knowing your mind and using these five tips will help you conquer any obstacle, thriving no matter your life stage.
Remember to enjoy and learn from whatever challenge comes your way.
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