Empower your mind. I’ve come to the last – but not least – of my Core 4.
These are the four pillars of health that guide my philosophy and coaching…and how I help you walk your own journey.
I don’t know what else to say other than this one is a doozy. Being more mindful and all the aspects that fall under this pillar may never be something you master. But with consistent practice, I have no doubt that you will change your life.
Before we dive in, catch up on the rest of the pillars if you haven’t already:
The Core 4 form the framework of my newest book.
Let’s start at the most logical place…
What is Mindset?
Mindset is usually defined as your attitudes about the world. I take it a little bit further though, because sometimes, the word “attitude” has a negative connotation.
The concept of mindset really exploded into cultural popularity thanks to Carol Dweck.
Mindset is how you perceive / see, formulate opinions about, and take action regarding yourself and the world around you.
To get your mindset right, you must first have an awareness of what you’re even seeing, observing, and perceiving in the first place. I’ll talk about the importance of mindfulness in a little bit.
I’m not a psychologist. But I’ve coached thousands of people in formal and informal settings over the last seven years. What’s become more than apparent is that my clients often have limiting beliefs, negative self-talk, and habits that make achieving their health, nutrition, and fitness goals that much harder.
But shooting right to the core, to the soft and squishy bits of your tender mind and soul, past the other pillars may not work for you either.
Sometimes it takes making a little headway with food and exercise, sleep and stress management before you can even free up the space to circle back around to mindset.
One thing is clear: There is no single timeline. You’ll come to this when you’re ready and open and not a moment sooner.
How to Do Mindset Work
Being aware of and beginning to unpack your mindset is tough frickin’ stuff. My long time coach Allegra Stein uses the term “high flame” to describe this work.
There’s no sense in sugar coating it. At times, it may be confronting. It might even be a little stressful. It may cause you to question things you’ve believed for your whole life. And it may, for the first time in a long time, mean that you start taking more responsibility for your thoughts and actions. Victim –> Victress.
I always make an explicit point to mention that there is no shame in having a mindset coach or receiving therapy.
The Benefits of Mindset Work
But on the other side of this sometimes-mucky mindset work are so many good things…
- Clarity about your purpose and values;
- A burgeoning belief in yourself;
- Getting in touch with your inner power;
- Understanding your self-worth is not linked to your body size, scale weight, health status, achievements, etc.;
- A more powerful way of seeing the world;
- More self-kindness and self-compassion;
- Approaching challenges with a growth mentality;
- Improved mental and emotional resilience;
- And more.
Other related topics that I include under mindset are how to create new habits and how to set process-oriented goals that help you reach big outcome goals.
A Word About Mindfulness
One part of knowing how to get your mindset right is mindfulness.
See, once you know about the power of mindset, there are two common reactions I’ve observed:
- Intense shame, guilt, and self-judgment; and / or
- A desire to fix it all, like, yesterday.
If you’re feeling the former, there are so many things I could tell you here…namely that these are all normal reactions / feelings that are part of the human experience. Please, feel the feelings. Don’t bottle it up. But if you find yourself paralyzed by them and unable to move forward, coaching or therapy can be invaluable.
Maya Angelou famously wrote, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.”
In other words, you don’t know what you don’t know. Beating yourself up for it over and over again doesn’t help with the taking action part. If you’re struggling with self-critique and self-judgement, I highly recommend the book Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Nice to Yourself by Kristen Neff.
And if you’re ready to jump in with both feet and start doing better, knowing where to begin can be positively overwhelming. That’s why I recommend mindfulness.
Mindfulness is simply awareness.
If you’re like most humans, you think and then react to things without even, well, thinking. It’s like you’re on autopilot. Years – decades even – of playing out your story and using it as a framework to view the world is the enabler that makes that possible.
How to Practice Mindfulness
So, start small. Just like building up a muscle and making it stronger by lifting a few times a week, you can strengthen your mindfulness, too. It takes consistent practice.
Let’s say you’re scrolling Instagram and see a fitness coach you follow. She’s wearing a sports bra and short shorts and demonstrating how to squat. The first thing that goes through your mind is, “Ugh. Why can’t I look like that?”
From there, your internal monologue ramps up and starts hurling insults at you. “Well, it’s because you still can’t lose those last 10 pounds. You never will. You’ve always been the fat girl, and you’ll probably keep on being her….”
You know where this goes. (And for what it’s worth, this is something I’ve thought many times.) It usually ends up with what I call the brain drain: three hours later you realize you’re on the couch, moping, crying, and feeling sorry for yourself without really knowing how you got there. Oh hey, shame storm.
Sound familiar? Catching yourself before the shame spiral brain drain situation goes down is so key.
Where are you when it happened?
What triggered it?
How does it feel in your body? (Hot, achy, painful, tight, radiating, prickly? Does it stay in one place or travel?)
What are the words you’re thinking?
Playing the role of an outside, non-judging observer is the goal. (Sometimes I picture myself having an out of body experience where I’m looking down and just taking it in, detached from it all.) Again, practice is required. You won’t always nail it. But over time, you may be able to stop hooking in for a ride on the brain drain train.
Final Thoughts on How to Get Your Mindset Right
Mindset is a beast of a pursuit…it really is. But when you get your mindset right – or at least start dipping your toes into this pool – it’s like the whole world can shift right in front of your eyes.
The most gratifying thing about coaching isn’t when someone loses weight or gets their first pull-up. (Those things are cool, don’t get me wrong.) It’s when someone says, “I’m negative self-talking so much less,” or, “Remember how I thought I had to be mean to myself to make progress? I’ve started being nicer to myself, and now it feels fun to make time for cooking and workouts.”
What each person gets out of these pillars is different.
How exactly you walk your own journey to inner and outer strength is your path to figure out and yours alone.
But I have no doubt that with mindset framing what you eat, how you move, and how you recharge and connect, you will undertake a most meaningful journey.
How did the Empower Your Mind pillar land for you? What stuck out? What’s something related to mindset you’d like to work on?
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