I have a few questions for you:
I am asking you these questions because I have a quick story I want to share with you on the importance of being mindful of what we focus on.
Because what we focus on significantly impacts our mindset.
In the early 1990’s I lived in Tokyo, and at the time there was no such thing as the internet, nor were there any English TV shows or English newspapers. During my first few months of living in Japan, I didn’t overthink the fact that I had no access to the “outside” world; however, it hit me hard when I returned home to Vancouver, Canada for a visit. When I arrived home and began watching the local news on TV, I remember thinking that Vancouver was one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Why did I think that? Because after months of having no access to the news, I was now bombarded with endless negative news stories about my city.
Vancouver was not one of the most dangerous cities in the world; however, that is how I perceived it because of my exposure to the news.
And that is how I became aware of how powerful our mind is and how easy it is impacted by what we focus on.
Someone recently said to me that she thought that the world had gone to hell in a handbag and when I asked her why she thought this, she rattled off a variety of topics circling the various news channels. My response to her was ‘has the world really gone to hell in a handbag, or is it that we have much more access to information, and specifically more negative information than we are used to?’
I don’t think there is any way to quantify and answer this question, but what I do know is that that if we focus on the positivity and beauty that is everywhere around us, both our inner and outer world will become much more positive.
I am not suggesting we bury our heads in the sand and pretend that the challenges of the world don’t exist; however, what I am suggesting, is that we ask ourselves this question:
How is what I am focusing my energy on, serving me and making me a happier, positive person?
I know that there is beauty and positivity everywhere; we just need to adjust our eyes and look for it.
Want to see a quick 2 minute video on the power of kindness? Watch the below:
One of the first steps we can take to empower ourselves is to learn to let go of the past and cultivate forgiveness. Forgiveness of ourselves as well as others.
This can be easier said than done as upbringing and life experiences will no doubt have had an impact on who we are and who we have become, however, the past does not need to define us or our future.
Instead of dwelling on the past, we can gently ask ourselves the following questions:
By asking ourselves these questions, we will likely begin to realise that holding onto and clinging to unpleasant memories does not serve us. Perhaps you recognise this already but don’t yet know how to purge the emotional patterns that you have adhered to and adopted over the years - and I totally get it. It is easier said than done to forgive, release and let go. A serious amount of time and strong intentions to move forward are required to release any pain and behavioural patterns that may have been adopted over a lifetime.
To move forward towards forgiveness, I have found that it is important to view, acknowledge and recognise past experiences and their corresponding emotions from a place of compassion and kindness. This doesn’t mean merely forgiving and forgetting and putting any painful incidents into a nice tidy box in the back of your brain, never to be thought about again. But, rather, what it does mean is that we can keep the memory of the experience but let go of the emotion attached to it. And, ultimately, with time, we can work towards forgiving those that hurt us.
Again, to reiterate, this process in my experience does not occur overnight. Furthermore, it is essential to note that in some cases, the forgiveness process may require significant work with a trained psychotherapist. And that is okay – whatever method works for you in the journey of forgiveness is acceptable.
In my own forgiveness journey, I have come to believe that everyone is doing the best they can at their own level of consciousness. And, while I don’t condone certain behaviours and actions, I do try to adopt a compassionate mindset towards individuals who have upset me – because I believe everyone is doing the best they can with the tools they have in their own personal tool kit.
Catch your dreams before they slip away.
The Rolling Stones / Ruby Tuesday
A few years ago, I was given concert tickets to see The Rolling Stones at Twickenham Stadium, and I remember that as I cheered, danced and performed with my air guitar, it struck me at how inspirational those rockers are. Their ages range from the early to late ’70s, and they rocked the house like they were a bunch of 18-year old’s. Their faces were beaming with smiles, and it was apparent that they were genuinely having a great time.
The Stones have been performing for 50 years, and it is evident to anyone who has seen them play that they have a genuine passion and love for their job. I take great inspiration from that. To do something you love for 50 years is truly remarkable.
To get inspired and enthused in our own lives, we can look to individuals such as the boys in the Rolling Stones, or other people who inspire us. When we turn to others for inspiration, it provides us with direction and different perspectives. In particular, when those that inspire us normalise their success and failures, it can spur us on in our own goals. Effectively inspirational people from all walks of life can change our outlook on what is possible and remind us what we are all capable of.
Personally, I make it a priority to read one book a week about someone inspirational – I read about people from Elon Musk to Maya Angelou to Phil Knight to Tom Brady to Betty White. It’s not that I want to invent the next Tesla, become a singer, develop sneakers, or become a line-backer or an actress; but instead, I want to learn from other people’s success and failures – I want to be inspired. For their stories of success and failure push me to keep pursuing my dreams.
To become inspired, think about who you admire and what you can learn from their life experiences. If the people you admire are in the public arena, consider what books/podcasts/media, they may be featured in that you can read/listen to/watch to become inspired.
Because sometimes the best motivation comes from being inspired by others. And, sometimes we need to rock the house like we are still 18.
'The one thing standing between you and your goals are the excuses you sell yourself'
I recall being at the gym a few years ago and chatting with a woman who asked me which classes I attended. I mentioned that I combined Barre (ballet) classes with weightlifting, Yoga, Pilates and Running. Upon hearing my response, the lady expressed to me that she would like to get in shape but isn’t able to do the Barre classes because she is inflexible, she can’t lift weights because of a bad back, yoga is a waste of time, Pilates is boring, and Running is ageing. I asked what she meant by running being ageing, and she said it “ages your face”.
Ouch, and I thought I was looking pretty decent for my age.
But I digress.
As we carried on chatting, I suggested some other workouts she may prefer: swimming, stretch classes, or cycling. As I mentioned these exercises, she provided a litany of reasons why these exercises would not work for her.
After our conversation ended, and as I walked home, I thought about the stories and excuses we sell ourselves. This woman was not unique in her views. In all honesty, years ago, I used to tell myself a variation of these same stories.
“I will go to the gym” was a daily lie I told myself for years until I learned to drop my excuses of “I am too tired”, “I don’t have time”, “I have too much to do”.
Ultimately, I learned to drop my excuses when I realized I wasn’t feeling or seeing the results I wanted.
It takes daily practice and awareness to listen to and understand the excuses we sell ourselves. I say daily practice because as much as I like to think that I am reasonably self-aware, I still catch myself trying to sell myself an excuse from time to time.
For instance, I recently caught myself saying to my husband the that I can’t take up his hobby of skateboarding because I am not 19 and made of magic anymore – i.e. I don’t want to kiss the cement and hurt myself. The reality is, is that it’s just an excuse that I use. In actual fact, I am not worried about hurting myself – I am just not that interested in becoming a skater girl at 46.
So how do you learn to stop making excuses?
The first step is to be mindful and listen out for the excuses you make to yourself and others.
And then ask yourself:
Are the excuses legitimate, or are they a form of excuse-itus?
If they are a form of excuse-itus, then you know what you need to do.
Remember: when you lose your excuses, you will find your results.
Hi! Welcome to the Mindset Coaching Blog, where I will be sharing with you how to develop healthy habits and empowering beliefs.
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