Everything we have in life is based on decisions we’ve made and thoughts we've had along the road. Sure, there are fundamentals and events over which we have no control, but we equally know we are fundamentally responsible for our attitude and for the decisions we make around life’s events. Every battle is won and lost in your head. That’s why we need to work it out and protect our proactive mindset. What’s your default mindset? When things don’t go your way, do you spiral out of control, wallow in self-pity, get dazed and confused, and feel a sense of paralysis? Or, do you fortify yourself, see the obstacle as a challenge to find a solution and grow bigger than the problem?
There is a global emphasis on physical health. People work out their bodies to build muscle, reduce fat, tone their physiques, and to improve overall health and welfare- which is to be encouraged and applauded. But, do we work out our minds and streamline our thoughts with the same dedication? When we face an internal battle, are we able to resist and overpower negativity, or do we not have the substance and strength of mind to resist the onslaught? If we have trouble combating doubt and worry, it might be because we have a weak and easily penetrable way of negative thinking that is caused by feeding our minds poor nutritional content. People are walking around with these unhealthy thought processes, constantly overpowered, pulled, paralyzed and overcome with stress and worry, and unable to resist it by replacing it anything of substance.
Everything in the world is vying for our attention; it’s a battlefield of the mind. If we don't exercise the way we think, if we don't educate ourselves, if we don’t know our own value, how is anybody else going to recognize it? Here are eight ways to work out your mind, find your value and win the battle:
1. Meditate and/or observe your spiritual practices
One of the wonderful aspects of the human condition is that everything we carry in our minds and hearts can be renewed, changed or altered. For those with faith, no matter what specific beliefs or whatever religious point of view you ascribe to, it is super reassuring and powerful to share our challenges with a force greater than ourselves. When we share our concerns, worries or anxieties with a source greater than ourselves, it releases the tension that builds from thinking you’re are alone and alleviates that need you may feel to have all of the answers every moment of the day. I find that praying gives my mind a chance to decompress and relieve some of the tension or excitement I may be feeling. In turn, that helps my mind feel respected and nurtured. Meditation has much the same effect by sending positive intentions out into the world and intentionally releasing negativity. When you meditate and pray, it’s like giving your mind a glass of fresh, clear water.
2. Rehearse your daily affirmations
What we say to ourselves about ourselves is critical to our strength of mind. We’re all only as good as the thoughts we think, and what we believe to be true will remain reality until something alters that belief or viewpoint. The internal dialogue we have with ourselves is often the biggest game-changer between breakthrough and utter failure. Self-sabotage is rife. People shut themselves down, cut off their own legs, and try to will themselves to walk. Write down five daily truths about yourself. Write down what you believe is true of you. For example, an affirmation that might suit you is: “I am a woman of influence and integrity.” Once you have a list of five daily affirmations, read them over and over when you wake up each morning. When you invest in yourself, you become a good investment in the eyes of others.
3.Outline your daily goals
Three- and five-year goals are fantastic, but the magic happens when we focus on immediate wins over those happening in six to 12 months. One powerful way to strengthen your mind is to focus in on the here and now. When we achieve milestones on the journey toward the bigger picture, we strengthen the core belief that we are people of power and creativity. I always joke that not having goals is like going to the bowling alley and rolling a ball without a single pin to hit. I mean, come on, how dull and boring would that be? When I bowl, I like to obliterate those pins. Our mind responds positively when we are consistently achieving and progressing by learning new skills or honing old ones. We must stop seeking to be perfect but instead seek to progress. When we progress and can see the clear intentions of our actions create positive results, it grows and develops our minds and improves our mental posture.
4. Stop consuming and start creating
We all have the ability to create something. We must stop consuming all the world puts in front of us and, instead, create a life that makes us feel fulfilled and purposeful. Often, our biggest fear isn’t of making mistakes but, actually, of being insignificant. This is the gauntlet every entrepreneur and every business faces, but when we become insignificant in the market place, we lose business and, eventually, have no business at all. We must reinvent, evolve and innovate. This also is true for our personal lives- our lives must have meaning for others to hear what we’re saying and understand why we’re saying it. Humanity wasn’t created to be spoon-fed, but society is being dumbed down by convenience. Our minds are strengthened and grow when we bring a piece of who we are into our businesses and relationships. When we build something with our own hands and imagination, it shifts the power of responsibility back onto ourselves and away from other people.
5. Build your courage muscle
When we step out of our comfort zone, when we explore the unknown, when we become comfortable with being uncomfortable, it helps us build our courage muscle. While courage derives from the word “cour,” which means only “heart,” when both our heart and mind are in tune, that’s when real courage happens. Often, we try to prevent fear from rearing its ugly head in our lives or allow fear to dictate our choices. There is nothing more liberating than overcoming that fear rather than allowing it to dictate our choices. If we want to strengthen our minds, we must be willing to engage our heart and align it with our mind’s targets. In this way, we can venture beyond the comforts of a peaceful life, and drive forward to surprise ourselves and create new belief systems.
6. Take care of your health
We’ve all experienced the thrills of what exercise and rigorous exertion can do for our mood, thanks to the release of chemicals in our body. It helps alleviate depression and even improve memory by increasing blood flow from your heart to your brain. Equally, exercise helps you de-stress. A study in Boulder, Colorado revealed that even regimented exercise can help protect you from anxiety and stress. But, it’s not just exercise that impacts your health. Sleep deprivation results in poor decision making, which was one of the causes of the well-documented Alaskan Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. Sometimes, it’s hard to make decisions at all due to lack of sleep. Finally, nutrition and feeding our bodies the right energy and nutrients is essential to keeping our minds active and strong.
7. Own your joy
We put so much emphasis on others and even material things to stimulate happiness in our lives. Until we take responsibility for our own joy and start to own our own mood and state of mind, we’ll always feel disappointed. When we take responsibility and cultivate a positive relationship with ourselves, we give our mind a chance to smile. When we’re positive and in the right frame of mind, it encourages us to see the bigger picture and draws opportunities to us. When you become conscious of our own happiness, you become a person who attracts what you want and need.
8. Reflect on both the good and the bad results you’ve had
If you’ve read any of my previous articles, you'll know I often talk about the power of reflection. Reflection pays your mind the biggest compliment by allowing it to rest, reflect and take stock of the decisions that you’ve made. This process will either encourage you to make more of them or change the decisions you’ve made that haven’t opened up into the positive experience for which you had hoped. When I reflect, I learn powerful lessons about myself that help me fortify and strengthen what works, and it also challenges my beliefs and behaviors that haven’t resulted in a positive outcome.
Basically, every battle is won and lost in our minds. The encouraging thing is we all have the power and opportunity to strengthen our minds and make decisions which will serve us, nourish us, and protect us from the distractions and obstacles we face daily. Start adopting some of the practical steps and take back the power of your own mind. You can no longer walk allow yourself to walk around with a defeated mind, feeding it poor nutritional content and fear and worry. Your strength of mind needs to start today.