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Is a Fear Mindset Causing Your Stress?

Is a Fear Mindset Causing Your Stress?

A fear mindset could be the main cause of your stress

Your mindset is how you think and what you believe about yourself and your environment. It plays a critical role in how you cope with life’s challenges.

What you think determines what you believe, and what you believe influences what you experience in life. Thoughts shape your reality.

The ancient Chinese philosopher and writer Lao Tzu wrote: “Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”

If a majority of your thoughts are fear-based, you’ve got a fear mindset. It could be thoughts and even statements (your words) about fear of rejection, fear of failure, or fear that you’re not enough.

This fear mindset saps your energy. It keeps you in the predictable and comfortable, preventing you from challenging yourself to achieve your full potential.

Fear is a normal emotion and has its function. It serves as your natural response to possible threats to your physical or emotional safety.

Unfortunately, in our modern world this response can be misused, overused or chronic. (See my previous blog called Letting Go of Fear.)

Too much fear causes stress. A fear mindset is contracting, and exemplified in chronic tension, struggle and hardship. This unhelpful energy is energy you could be investing in growth, in achieving your dreams and desires.

People often give up on what they want because they believe that reaching their goal is beyond their abilities. They continue living in fear and settle into their lives, thinking they shouldn’t try at all.

Fear is part of the fixed mindset

Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, writes about the power of mindset. She states that success is influenced by how we think about our talents and abilities.

People with a fixed mindset – those who believe that abilities are fixed – are less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset – those who believe that abilities can be learned and developed. Fear is part of this fixed mindset.

The most successful people have a growth mindset. They don’t freeze up or flee when fear shows up, they embrace it and leverage that fear into taking action. When faced with a setback, they try harder.

They keeping looking for solutions and trying new strategies. They adapt and grow.

What mindset do you have?

What are your predominant thoughts and actions? If they seem fear-based or fixed, there’s no need to worry. The best part about your mindset is that you can change it.

You can move from a fixed, fear mindset to a love-based, trust-based, growth mindset where you’re more likely to flourish. Trust and love drives out fear. They can’t exist at the same time.

Intentionally Expand and Grow – Take Action

Use one or more of these techniques to move from a fear mindset that’s causing your stress to a new mindset of trust and growth.

1. Watch your thoughts.

First off, pay attention to your thoughts and the words you use. Are you frequently telling yourself fearful or limiting things? Things like: “I’ll never be able to get that promotion, I’m not experienced enough.”; “I’m not smart enough to lead this project”; “What if I fail – will they fire me?”

2. Choose to adopt a new mindset. Change your limiting thoughts and beliefs.

Start by challenging your thoughts the next time you don’t do well on a task. For example, if your presentation at work didn’t go well, and you hear yourself thinking “I never do anything right”, “I’m not good at my job”, or “I’m such a failure”, stop and ask some prodding questions.

What is the evidence for and against your conclusion? You can create a list of all the times your presentations were successful and when you were great at your job in the past.

You could think of reasons why it didn’t go so well this time, rather than concluding you’re a failure. Did you get enough quality sleep?; did you plan and prepare enough?; are there other things going on in your life right now causing you to be off your game?

Answering these questions leads to the new mindset. Figure out what new beliefs are more supportive and adopt those beliefs. Your internal dialogue of “I’m such a failure” can change to “If I’m prepared and feeling well physically and emotionally, I’ll always succeed.”

Keep in mind, these new beliefs take their place alongside the old ones, and as they become stronger, they give you a different way to think, feel, and act.

3. See everything as an opportunity to grow and develop.

Another way to change your mindset is to see every situation and person you encounter as an opportunity for expansion and development. When challenging events happen, ask yourself: “How is this calling me to expand and grow?”, “What am I learning?”, or “How can I improve?”

This strategy works well if you have a demanding or controlling leader at work. You can switch the focus of being judged or criticized to how this is calling you to develop.

It could be as simple as witnessing their behavior and realizing you never want to treat others that way, or maybe it’s a challenge about developing a relationship with a difficult personality.

If you stay in a fear mindset, the stress of living every day in fear of disapproval or of doing something wrong can become toxic. You may become paralyzed from moving forward in attempt to protect yourself.

Changing your mindset to embrace the challenge and grow allows you to take back control in what feels like a powerless situation and live up to your potential.  

4. Use the word yet

Adding yet to your inner dialogue may be enough to change your beliefs about yourself and what you’re able to do. It helps with motivation too.

You can change:

  • “I can’t do this” to “I can’t do this yet”;
  • “I’m not good at this” to “I’m not good at this yet”;
  • “This doesn’t work” to “This doesn’t work yet”.  

One last thing. Make sure after you change your thoughts you step into those new beliefs. Take an action step in that direction to support the new thought.

Changing the fear mindset that’s causing your stress will change your outcome and results. With a new mindset, you can transform your life and the lives of others.

 

Photo by Bram on Unsplash

Revealed: Why Having a Clear Purpose and Vision is Vital for Happiness

Revealed: Why Having a Clear Purpose and Vision is Vital for Happiness

Having a clear life purpose and vision is vital for your happiness.  

Many people, especially in the U.S., believe the only way to have what you want is to work hard and long. And that having what you want will bring you happiness.

I was under that misguided belief during my corporate career. Overworking, that led to chronic stress, was one of the main reasons that led to my health crisis and eventual change of careers (read more about that here).

Now as a coach and business owner, I still occasionally struggle with letting these limiting thoughts go. Thoughts like “Work is a priority above all other things”, “You’ll be seen as lazy and average if you don’t put in at least 8-10 hours a day”, or “You can’t be successful doing what you love, that’s what hobbies are for.”   

So how do you work smarter, not harder? Or love what you do so much that it doesn’t feel like work?

What do you do when things have changed, due to a job loss or health issue, that make the old way of living no longer possible? Or when there is a disconnect between the work role or personal role you fill and what you really desire for yourself?

You start with getting crystal clear about your purpose.

I’m a firm believer that everyone can benefit from life purpose work if you’re open to it and want to discover who you are at a deep level.

Your Life Purpose

Doing fulfilling work is a pipe dream for many people. It doesn’t have to be.

Purpose is intention. It’s defined as something set up with an end to be attained. Doing things on purpose is doing them intentionally. Life gets so much easier when you live on-purpose, doing things intentionally.

Wayne Dyer said it best: “When you stay on purpose and refuse to be discouraged by fear, you align with the infinite self, in which all possibilities exist.”

Your life purpose is your calling. It’s the reason that gives meaning to your life. An example is the nurse whose life purpose is to work generously and live in service to care for the health and wellbeing of others.

Discovering your life purpose focuses the attention on “be-ing” who you are. When you focus on “be-ing”, you do what you want and you get what you need.

Your Vision and Mission

Don’t confuse your life purpose with your vision or mission.

Your vision is a specific, compelling image of the future that you hold for your life.

Once you have determined your purpose, a vision gives context to your purpose and aligns you to that future state. Our nurse’s vision is that all people in need are able to receive high quality medical care.   

Your mission is the particular way you choose to fulfill your purpose at a specific point in your life. Continuing with our nurse example, her mission as she approaches retirement is to create a non-profit organization so that nurses and other medical personnel are able to visit poor rural communities and provide healthcare to those in need.

The Benefits of Life Purpose Work

Life purpose has been an interesting and popular topic for years. Perhaps you’ve read the best seller The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren or some other book about life purpose, mission statements or personal fulfillment.

Each of us has a unique life purpose. When you know your purpose, you have stability and security in that knowledge. It brings a sense of peace.

Once you determine your life purpose, you have a clear direction to take when deciding on what actions to take. Your life purpose guides you and keeps you on course.

It also provides a sense of confidence in knowing you’re doing what’s right and best for you. Having a clear life purpose minimizes confusion about your motives and what things mean to you.

Your life has more meaning when you’re “be-ing” on purpose.

Your Next Step: Take Intentional Action

There’s a desire for more self-reflection and life purpose work when you reach a certain age, life stage or if you’re in the midst of a life transition. Major events in your life could include job loss, divorce, 15-20 years in your career, empty nest/children have left, death of a loved one, or approaching retirement.

You may be experiencing one or more of these, and the desire for clarity and purpose is growing for you.

Keep in mind, it’s not easy to discover your purpose and vision when your life is busy. This is deep work; it’s a process of getting to know yourself fully.

You’ll have to carve out the time and effort this will require. Get in a quiet place where you’ll be able to do the deep self-reflection this requires.

1. Start with discovering your life purpose. Work with a coach or do some self-study to determine what it is.

This can be done by examining your past experiences, like listing out the roles you’ve found most fulfilling in your life. Or talking about some of the things you’ve always loved doing throughout your life.

2. Then, go a step further and examine those answers to find bigger themes, commonalities, repetitive words and key phrases.

3. Next, create your own unique life purpose statement using those key words and phrases.

4. Lastly, confirm your purpose. Does it resonate with how you see yourself and your vision? Do you feel happy and excited when you review it? Do you feel connected to it at a deep level and have a desire to fulfill it?

Your life purpose statement could take weeks or months of reviewing and refining. If working with a coach, it could take up to 3 or more sessions of working deeply together.

Once you have it, remember it’s for your own personal use. It’s a tool to inspire and guide you. To be on-purpose. To live on-purpose. You don’t need to share your life purpose statement with anyone else.

Enjoy the process of discovering your life purpose and once you have it, you can create your vision and mission next.

 

Photo by Matt Noble on Unsplash

What’s Draining Your Energy and What to Do About It

What’s Draining Your Energy and What to Do About It

Have you ever thought about what’s draining your energy and what to do about it?

In our fast-paced and ever-changing world, we react to things and don’t realize the negative impact until later. These energy drains can lead to all sorts of issues and keep you from a satisfying career and happy life.

You’re probably familiar with the typical energy drains: not enough sleep, not drinking enough water, little to no physical activity, too much TV or social media, not eating well. In addition, you may be struggling with habits, coping mechanisms, and other situations that have an impact on your energy levels and wellbeing.

When I worked in corporate, the pressure to perform was extreme and unfair. There was a lot of complaining and working in HR, I heard it from all directions. There wasn’t time to take a breath, step back and act with intention. Things felt out of control. Add in office politics, power plays and changing priorities, along with the latest fire to put out, it was the definition of an energy drain on steroids.

These perfect-storm situations suck the life out of you, are unproductive, and at times physically and mentally debilitating. It crushes your spirit, and your happiness.

The Little Things That Drain Your Energy

The little things that drain your energy are the things you just handle. They seem insignificant, or not worth giving much thought. Unfortunately, they add up over time.

You ignore them, or think they’ll get better on their own without making any kind of focused effort toward making it better. Typically, you don’t act until it gets so bad that you can’t stand it anymore.

For example, let’s say you have a messy desk, and your desktop and folders on your PC are disorganized too. These are the little things that keep you from finding things easily. When you have to spend extra time to find something, you get frustrated. Your work and how effective you are suffers as a result.

Other little things that drain your energy are unfinished work items like a project that you push aside for more urgent matters.

Unmade decisions, like hiring a new team member or buying a new mobile phone, pick away at your vitality too. Every time you think about how you haven’t made that decision, it robs you of your energy.

Clutter, in all its forms, drains your energy too. It could be a garage overflowing with unnecessary things you’ll never use again or the clutter in your head as you worry about things outside of your control.

One last thing that you might not realize is an energy drain is a toxic relationship you tolerate. These are the one-sided friendships or the negative friends that leave you drained after spending any amount of time with them.

Let’s say you plan to have an enjoyable lunch with a friend, and the entire conversation is all about her and her problems, all the negative things in the world and a rant about politics.

When you finally get a chance to share about you she’s on her phone or has to leave. It’s exhausting. These types of relationships are energy vampires – they suck all the life out of you and you leave feeling tired, numb and upset.

The Big Things That Drain Your Energy

The big things that drain your energy are the things you know are diminishing the quality of your life. You may accept them as normal, as I did when I brought work home to do in the evenings and weekends. Or tolerating a toxic work environment as if all companies would be the same.

These big things may stem from a habitual pattern you have, like taking things personally when they have nothing to do with you. That in turn leads to hurt feelings and strained relationships.

They may be the things you don’t know how to effectively deal with, like a demanding boss, a challenging relationship with your child or an aging parent who needs more time than you can give them. All draining your energy.

Remember that life is a journey and it’s meant to have positive and negative aspects. You don’t need to create suffering, there will be plenty of it naturally.

Your goal with small and big energy drains is to acknowledge they exist, accept what they’re costing you and then move beyond them.

Here’s a 3 step process to intentionally address how to do this.

Take Intentional Action

1. Make a short list of the energy drains, or obstacles, getting in your way of being satisfied and happy – include 5 from work and 5 from home.

2. Next, ask yourself what each of these items is costing you and write that down. It could be loss of time, exhaustion, inconvenience, frustration, loss of health or wellbeing, strained relationships, or missed opportunities.

For example, your closet is a disaster and every morning it takes way too long to find the clothes you want to wear, usually making you late and frustrated (cost = frustration, being late, anger).

Or you haven’t decided to start looking for another job yet despite thinking about it for months given the current climate at your workplace. It’s causing you stress every time you think about it or when you see colleagues taking action to benefit their careers. The cost here is the negative impact of stress on your health and wellbeing, plus loss of quality sleep since it’s been keeping you up at night too.  

3. Lastly, find ways to eliminate, minimize or manage these obstacles. Start off with an easy one, like plan two hours to clean out and organize your closet or garage this weekend. Or commit to updating your resume one evening this week. Click here for help with getting organized.

Delegation works well too. If your energy drain is finding the time to keep a clean home, delegate it by hiring someone else to clean it.

Some of these obstacles could be intentionally delayed. For example, if you need to buy a new computer you can put a day in your calendar for three weeks from now to start the research and shopping, when you’ll have more free time on the weekends.

When you eliminate an obstacle, you’ll feel like a weight’s been lifted when you make that decision. It could be as simple as refusing to spend time with any energy vampires or others that don’t treat you well. Or deciding to not participate in any workplace gossip or drama is another empowering and energizing step.

Keep working your list until you’ve moved beyond all your obstacles that are draining your energy. At any point in the future, redo this process to ensure you’re keeping your energy and wellbeing at optimal levels.

 

 

Photo by Twins Fisch on Unsplash