HOW YOUR MINDSET AFFECTS YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
I learned most of my psychology and personal development expertise from the viewpoint of the self-help industry. While traditional psychology and neuroscience focus on the more technical parts of mental health. Such as how certain parts of our brain communicate, and how trauma manifests in the physical body. Self Help primarily focuses on YOU and what you can do to improve your life.
I grew more and more intrigued on why so many people could not complete the action plan laid out for them. Why couldn’t Jolene commit to 10 minutes of meditation a day, or why couldn't Noel stick to a simple diet?
IT'S TIME TO TALK ABOUT THOSE VOICES INSIDE YOUR HEAD
Now I’m not talking about voices as in what you hear when you have Schizophrenia. I’m talking about the loud and pervasive thoughts swirling around in that magnificent brain of yours. Let's call these positive beliefs.
They sound like:
- “I look good in shorts”
- “I am worthy of love”
- “All dogs love me”.
On the other hand we have the pervasive thoughts or negative beliefs.
They sound like:
- “You’re not good enough to get that job”
- “Money is the root of all evil”
- “I look fat in these jeans, I’ll only be beautiful when I lose 10 lbs”.
We’ll call these limiting beliefs. Put both the good and bad together and you have our mindset.
OUR MINDSET CREATES OUR LITERAL REALITY
Think about it. If you go around thinking that money is the root of all evil, you’re probably not going to want to accumulate a lot of it, because that would mean that you too are evil. You’ll find weird ways to spend it - like on an impromptu night out where you blow 5 grand that you just inherited, or you’ll rack up credit card bills that will take you decades to pay off, for no good reason.
THESE BELIEFS DO NOT SERVE YOU
It’s now time to reframe. For the past year you have been meditating, unlearning bad habits surrounding money and understanding how your view of money held you back from achieving a level of financial wellbeing you’ve craved your entire life. You have realized how wonderful money is, and that it allows you to take proper care of your family, as well as reduces the stress you experience in your daily life. It’s probably true that you’re much more likely to hold onto money now, you value it more (or at least you’re starting to). You have money in your savings account, and you’re even planning a trip. See how this one belief has totally changed your reality?
YOUR MINDSET IS MADE UP OF A SERIES OF BELIEFS THAT YOU HAVE TOLD YOURSELF OVER AND OVER DONE - AND A LOT OF IT WAS DONE BY ACCIDENT
We don’t actually realize how many of our beliefs affect our daily life nor do we realize how many limiting beliefs we truly have. I want you to take a moment and read the list below and think of any more that you may have.
- Money is evil
- I’ll have my heartbroken if I fall in love
- No one ever tells the truth
- I never have enough time
- I won’t be pretty until I lose 10 lbs
- I am too young to start a business
- I am too old to start kayaking
Now take a moment and for the ones you also believe, envision what your life would be like if you did not think this. Self reflection time.
“WAIT, SO HOW DOES THIS AFFECT MY MENTAL HEALTH?”
Let’s say this was your limiting belief: I will be judged if I go after what I want
If you are someone who believes this unconsciously, you may also be someone who hates when people criticize you, meaning you don’t want to try anything new to avoid judgement. This results in you moving through life not going after those dreams of becoming a graphic artist. Regret grows louder and louder, as each day gets harder and harder to get out of bed in the morning. You’re stuck in a boring job selling insurance over the phone, when all you really want to be doing is creating art.
You’re now hiding who you uniquely and truly are. You’re hiding because people may judge you for trying. You end up hiding from what makes you happy your entire life. Now, don’t you think that may create some negative experiences in your day to day?
DON'T FORGET ABOUT THOSE COPING MECHANISMS
… and I’m not talking about the good ones.
Most mental health professionals use the term “coping mechanisms” when talking about taking care of oneself, but things like self harm, drug abuse, gossiping and binge eating can also be considered coping mechanisms. After all, you are doing this to cope with the overwhelming emotions you are experiencing. Emotions ranging from shame, to self loathing, to grief.
For instance, as a child I developed a coping mechanism to eat when I was under stress, after all I was my father’s daughter. This was something I did and didn’t even realize I was doing it until a few years ago.
For the longest time, I would catch myself in the mirror and think, wow I’m just a little chubby, I really need to lose 10 lbs. A few years down the road the thought had morphed into, wow I won’t be pretty until I lose 10 lbs. Luckily I caught this early on in my 20s, but let’s think as if I hadn’t. This belief may now look something like: “I am not worthy of love until I lose 10 lbs”. Now let’s say you used food as a coping mechanism for your stress.
WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR LIFE LOOKS LIKE?
You’re 40, perpetually single, and 25 pounds overweight because the stress this belief has caused you to feel on a daily basis, causes you to eat more and more food. Remember, that’s how you manage your stress level, it’s how you cope. Now you’re spiralling into a shame cycle, which causes you more stress, which causes you to eat more. The cycle is vicious.
I BET FOR SOME OF YOU, THIS IS STARTING TO SOUND FRIGHTENINGLY ACCURATE
Being overcome with constant feelings of stress, shame, guilt, and resentment can result in a lot of emotion turmoil including (but not limited to), depression, anxiety, eating disorders, self harm, and even suicide.
This is how your mindset affects your mental health.
No, this is how mindset affects your entire life.