By Leo Babauta
Having worked closely with dozens of people’s transformative journeys, I’ve come to recognize a handful of mindset shifts that make an incredible impact.
Those who’ve worked to shift in these ways have remarkable transformations. I’m going to share them here with you in hopes that they might inspire your own transformation. If you take these on fully, they could be life-changing. This isn’t all there is, but these are a huge foundation.
I am enough.
You can notice the opposite of this when you’re afraid you’ll be judged, afraid you’ll fail, afraid you’re unworthy of respect or admiration. When you’re caught up in what other people are thinking, or blaming them for making you feel not enough. When we’re overwhelmed and think we can’t do everything. What if we were always enough, no matter what we do or don’t do? What if we didn’t have to worry about being good enough anymore? What if this were our base assumption? Then everything else where we worry about this becomes so much easier.
I let myself feel my emotions.
Most people don’t want to feel sad. Or feel fear, frustration, anger, grief. We avoid these emotions because we feel there’s something wrong with feeling them. Most of our lives are actually spent trying to avoid the emotions, distracting and avoiding and denying.
What if we just allowed ourselves to feel sad? Or afraid? Or angry? Going through these emotions is not that difficult, if a bit unpleasant. But these emotions can also be beautiful, places of learning and wisdom, and much more, if we open to the experience. Then they pass, and we don’t have to spend so much energy resisting and suppressing. We become more relaxed around these emotions. Give yourself permission to feel these emotions.
I love myself when I feel stuff.
When you feel emotions, if you’re like most people, you’ll not only resist, but make yourself feel bad for feeling them. I won’t go into much effort to explain this, but ask that you trust me. If you simply noticed that you’re feeling the emotion (let’s say frustration or sadness) and gave yourself some love, some breath, some space, it would be an entirely different experience. You would not make a big deal about having the emotion, but would simply give yourself some love. It’s a game changer.
I’m not stuck in right vs. wrong.
It’s incredible how often we make ourselves wrong. I shouldn’t have done that, I suck for not doing this, I should feel ashamed for how I am. And we do the same thing to other people; they suck for doing this or not doing that. We stress out trying to do things right. What if we got out of that game of right and wrong?
Play a whole different game, that isn’t constrained by this mental framework. It would be free of should’s and shame, and free to play, invent, explore, create art, have a joyful ruckus of a time.
I trust myself.
What would life be like if we trusted ourselves? Most of us are caught up in worry and anxiety because we don’t trust ourselves. What else is possible if you started to trust yourself? A life of greater ease and playfulness, for example. This is an incredible way to live.
I choose my life.
We often do things because we feel we should, or have to. Out of a sense of obligation, or not having any choice. What a life! It’s a life of victimhood and burden. Most people don’t even notice when they feel this way, because it’s so ingrained. When you shift to a mindset of choosing your life, it’s powerful. We feel empowered and enlivened.
How do we work with these? I would love to work with you as a coach, because it’s often impossible to do this work without support. We just can’t see what we can’t see.
That said, here are some keys to working with these mindset shifts.
First, notice when you have the opposite mindset. Notice when you’re stuck in the old mindset, as often as possible. Notice the impact of the old mindset—what effect is it having on you, on other, on your life? Have grace for yourself, and love, when you notice. Breathe.
Second, practice the new mindset. What if the new mindset were absolutely true? Empower it. Be it.
Third, when we get trapped in the old mindset, we’ll revert to it often. Get support. From a coach, from a therapist, from a meditation teacher, from someone outside of yourself. Someone who can help you see it, help you bring love to it, help you practice outside of it.
And then keep practicing! This takes a lot of practice, a lot of messing up the practice, a lot of getting yourself back into it. It’s all a part of the practice. It’s not easy work, but I promise, it’s transformative.
Leo Babauta is a regular guy, a father of six kids, a husband, a writer from Guam (now living in San Francisco). He eats vegan food, writes, runs, and reads. He is the founder of Zen Habits which is about finding simplicity and mindfulness in the daily chaos of our lives. It’s about clearing the clutter so we can focus on what’s important, create something amazing, find happiness.
This article was originally published on Zen Habits and re-published with author’s permission.
Editor: Dana Gornall