Mindset Shifts – Katie Farrell
Learn to transform your thoughts for positive mental wellbeing
As a Transformation Coach, I help others to deal with feelings from stress, anxiety and overwhelm, to fear, lack of confidence and a sense of being stuck.
These feelings can impact many in a negative way, holding them back from being who or what they’d love to be, instead living a life that feels restrictive or unfulfilling.
When we operate in a chaotic environment, whatever the cause in life, it can be very easy to get caught up in the whirlwind, focusing purely on the negatives, worrying about all the things that could go wrong. I wanted to share some ways that you can look after your own mental health and wellbeing to manage during challenging times.
Our Survival-Based Negative Bias
Did you know that every day, we each have around 70,000 thoughts and up to 95% of these are repeats of the same thoughts we had the day before…and the day before that? And perhaps even more concerning is the fact up to 85% of those are negative! Our brains are hardwired to have a negative bias; it’s what has kept us safe and evolving as a human race and so certainly has a purpose, but it does mean that we can find ourselves even more challenged to maintain a positive attitude, when everything around us seems to want to pull us into a downward spiral.
Here’s a high-level summary of how the brain works, to help illustrate the process:
Think of the mind as being split into 2: the Conscious and the Subconscious. The primary role of the Conscious mind is to be alert to potential dangers to our safety and life (think sabre-toothed tigers back in the day!). The main role of the Subconscious is a bit like the hard drive of a computer; it stores information that we’ve filed away, ready to be called upon when needed. This includes instructions we’ve learned over our lifetime (everything from learning how to speak and walk to driving a car), storing them in ‘processes’ or ‘patterns’ of thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
When the Conscious mind notices something that isn’t familiar to it, that hasn’t already been stored away in its filing system, it will be on high alert, to assess how much of a threat this ‘new thing’ is to us. This could be a new colleague being introduced into our team at work, a strange sound heard in the middle of the night or an outbreak of a new virus hitting the world. The mind and body then go into Fight, Flight or Freeze mode, to enable us to assess the situation and deal with it accordingly.
Whatever the outcome of that assessment is, whether we deem the new situation to be friend or foe, the resulting coping mechanism, the way we deal with the situation, is stored alongside the details of the situation in our filing system (Subconscious). This means that when a similar situation arises again in the future, the Conscious mind checks in with the Subconscious, who pulls out the appropriate matching file and runs the process to deal with the situation in the way it did before.
Now, this is great on a couple of levels: 1) operating on ‘auto pilot’ and therefore freeing up the resources of the Conscious mind to carry on looking out for further potential dangers, and 2) when we learn useful processes, such as how to use a new system at work or the name of the new team member.
However, if we’ve learned to treat something with distrust, stress or fear for instance, whilst that may have been an appropriate response in the first instance, it may not always be appropriate for future experiences.
So, if we allow our thoughts to simply continue on auto-pilot, we can end up becoming stuck in old routines and habits that, when we stop and think about them (no pun intended!), we realise they’re no longer valid and don’t support where we want to be now or what we want to achieve going forward.
However, the good news is that we ARE able to make changes and be more in control of our minds; we CAN choose which thoughts we pay attention to and allow to have more of a bearing on what we do!
“Where attention goes, energy flows”
How? We need to start taking notice of our thoughts and decide whether we want to continue having those, or if we’d rather remove any negative, unhelpful ones and start sowing the seeds of more fruitful, positive thoughts.
Our minds can be our own worst enemies or our own best friends – which would you rather have?
Mindset Shift Exercise
If you find yourself getting drawn down a negative spiral of thoughts, whether that’s “I can’t cope”, or “How can I compare to every other Coach/Designer/Marketing expert out there” or “I’ll never meet the man/woman of my dreams”, then this next short exercise could help you to take back control of your thoughts and subsequent emotions and behaviours, so that you feel more able to deal with the situation and confident to take the necessary actions to move you forward in a positive way:
- Start taking notice of any negative/unhelpful thoughts you have and write those down. You might like to use a journal especially for this, that you can keep in your handbag/on your desk etc.
- Notice any accompanying emotions or physiological feelings in the body (e.g. frustration, sadness, tension in the neck or shoulders, knot in the stomach etc).
- Think of the opposite, positive thoughts and feelings you would rather experience and write these down in a separate list.
- Turn these positive thoughts and feelings into phrases (or ‘affirmations’) and practise repeating them to yourself. Write them on post-it notes and stick in places you see often (the fridge door, your steering wheel, your notepad etc) or add them to your welcome note on your mobile phone – whatever works for you. The idea is to overwrite the auto-pilot from the old habitual thoughts, so the more often you can absorb these affirmations internally, the better…and very quickly these will become your ‘new normal’ habitual thoughts – and that’s when the MAGIC starts to happen!
Through my holistic approach including coaching, mindset work, energy management, personality profiling and hypnosis, I help you to turn these negatives around, empowering you to be more successful, happy and in control of your life and businesses.
Katie Farrell is a Transformational Coach helping high-achieving women create a happy and fulfilling life, without burning out. She coaches with a focus on Mindfulness, Stress Management and Wellbeing and Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace.