Mindset; beware of the rabbit hole of negativity

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What do you think of when you see or hear the word ‘mindset’? A while ago I would have answered ‘positivity’ or ‘being mentally tough,’ I thought about mindset in relation to a particular event or challenge. I wanted to develop a positive mindset to improve my horse riding. I wanted to be more confident on competition days and about competing in general. I worked hard on my mindset, I developed those things and my riding improved hugely as a result – hurrah!

I’ve learnt so much more since though. For as long as I can remember my mind has had a tendency to wander to less than helpful things. More so when I’m feeling under pressure, but it isn’t only at those times. Things that had upset me would hang around in my mind for months, sometimes years, after whatever it was had happened. I would often wake up in the night and my mind would attach itself to one of those bad thoughts (there were plenty to choose from) and make me feel wretched. You know that awful feeling when your stomach drops? That would result in hours of tossing and turning, feeling worse and worse, and soon I would start to worry that it was so late that I would be overtired for the next day. One worry would cause stress which would start another worry, just writing this makes me feel exhausted!

I don’t suffer from this now and I can’t tell you how freeing it is! Recently I caught myself about to head off down a rabbit hole of negativity and I stopped myself. To be able to do that was seriously empowering.

So that you can understand the context, here’s a bit of background; a number of years ago I went to a friend’s wedding. It was someone who I had been close friends with years earlier, I hadn’t seen her for some time as I had moved away and we both had busy lives. Lots of the people going were people I knew from 6th form college (where I met my friend), they were all still in touch and I hadn’t seen most of them for years. I was one of the few single people there and I was reasonably nervous about it because a lot of them weren’t really my kind of people. I went with another friend (as opposed to a date) and we had a good time, we did drink too much though, daytime summer drinking coupled with being a bit nervous is never a good combination!

Later in the evening I was sitting next to a girl who I vaguely knew from our time at college, we’d never known each other well but we’d never had a problem with each other either. The conversation is a little sketchy but the only way I can describe it is that she was less than pleasant and made me feel about 3 inches tall! I have no idea if it was intentional on her part, whether she too had drunk too much, but I do know that it stuck with me for ages. For quite a while after that wedding I had that sinking feeling often. Of course drinking too much is never a good idea, I have long since learnt that hangover anxiety is one of the worst forms.

As time went on I probably forgot about it, no doubt my mind replaced it with something else for me to feel bad about! I hadn’t thought about it for years until a few weeks ago. I was watching something on tv and I saw someone who looked like that girl. My mind went like this:

Oh she looks like X. Oh God, remember that wedding? Remember how awful she made me feel?

Just as my mind was about to dive head first down that rabbit hole of shame and negativity I did something to stop it. I chose not to go there, I chose not to put myself through a whole load of crap and I chose to think about something nicer. My go-to happy thought at the time was a competition from late Summer with my amazing horse Kiki. She was truly brilliant & we did better than I thought that we could. That made me smile the biggest smile and made my heart fill at the thought of how much progress we‘d made together.

Doesn’t that sound like so much more fun than the alternative? Thinking about something that makes you feel happy, rather than something that makes you feel awful? The crappy thought wouldn’t have stopped that evening, it would have been back in my mind for weeks and months, waiting to make me feel rubbish all over again, and where is the sense in that? I would bet my house on the fact that the girl at the wedding hasn’t thought about it since, so why was I letting it make me feel awful so often and for so long?

The answer is, because I wasn’t in control of my mind. Very few people are, because not many people know that not only is it possible to be, but it’s actually not that difficult when you know how.

I can choose whether I let that situation, or any other, get to me or not. It’s in the past, by close to 15 years by my reckoning. I can’t change it so why was I still worrying about it? No one can make me feel inferior without my consent (Eleanor Roosevelt said so) and I chose not to consent. The really good news is that we can all choose and for the sake of our well being and our sanity I really think that we should!

We are all responsible for our own happiness and how we choose to treat ourselves makes a HUGE difference to how we feel. If there was a situation that made your best friend feel rubbish, you wouldn’t bring it up every day and make her feel worse would you? So why do it to yourself?

You have the power to choose your feelings, choose wisely.

If you’d like to make a change in this, or any other area of your life, then get in touch for a free 30 minute consultation session about how I can help you.

Do something today that your future self will thank you for!

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