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"We don't see things as they are. We see them as we are."
Each of us has a unique mindset through which we perceive the world. Its like a thought processor in the mind.
This mindset is deep and automatic. Because it is a language which continuously learns and adjusts we have the power to re-shape it.
How does mindset affect your experience?
Your mindset will dictate what stimuli in your environment you pay attention to, what memories you hold on to, what intentions and expectations you project into the future and how you interpret life events.
Two different mindsets
There are two mindsets that can make the difference between a life of misery and a life of joy – the scarcity mindset and the abundance mindset.
When your mind operates on a scarcity mindset you sense insatiable desire to get better and get more. You feel that something is always wrong or missing. On a material level what you gain is never enough. On a personal level you are held back by an inner critic and you need to continuously improve yourself as you are never good enough. On a social level you tend to complain, judge others and present as a victim. On an emotional level your needs seem to never be met. In your relationship you keep noting the flaws of your partner and you are hard to satisfy. It is not pleasant to be captivated by this tyrannical mindset.
The other mindset – abundance – is centred on the belief that you are abundant with talents, strengths and love to give. I believe that seeing Self as a spirit opens us to the possibility of unlimited capacity to love, to share and to cope with adversity. A spiritual being is inter-connected, infinite, formless and unbounded. Our body is limited in resources and separated from others. To live this reality means to feel “I am Love” – connected to others and to the flow of life. The desire is to connect, to share, to create and to give.
Life circumstances may affect where you centre your identity at a certain time. It is very hard to live in the centre of your abundance when you are unemployed or socially disconnected. The paradox is that using the abundance mindset is more likely to get us to the joy we are seeking – professionally fulfilled and socially connected. To intentionally direct attention towards abundance will kick your spiral upward.
Resilience researcher L. Graham: says: “With only subtle shifts in our thinking, our language and in our expectations, we can begin to change the ingrained behaviors that sap health, optimism and vitality from our life”.
Do you need a miracle to bring about such a mindset?
The euphoria of falling in love will create that miracle but only for a short while. Soon after you will find yourself back with the fears of abandonment and rejection, frustration for your unmet needs and more. Yet, the initial experiences of openness, trust and hopefulness can be cultivated. You can form new brain circuits by learning the language of abundance. After a while they become your habits in your ways of thinking, perceiving and talking.
Warning: scarcity habits such as self doubts, cynicism, victimhood, mistrust and criticism are dying hard. You will need a high dose of faith and perseverance for a new path.
How to learn?
To learn this language you will need to offer your brain a nourishing environment – people with an abundance mindset, ideas that touch your heart and elevate your spirit, classes and workshops that boost your growth.
The field of positive psychology offers many tools. On YouTube and Ted talks you can find many inspirational speakers. I am aware that most of us lack the self discipline to pursue it alone so finding the suitable environment to learn and grow is essential. Such environments you may find in a flourishing relationship, in a strong and supportive community or by hanging around people or teachers that support and elevate you. Dare to choose them!
You may start practising the language of abundance now. Here are some of my favourite words:
“Yes” – the energy of this word is very appealing and affirming. Just sense the sound of ‘no’ in your head to see what I mean. Make it a habit to nod to people and use this word often. This little word will offer a big boost to your connection with those you care about.
“I am grateful for…” ‘thank you’ can be a formal and polite expression but if accompanied with the right intention it will have a different meaning to both – the sender and recipient. Gratitude is one of those areas in Positive Psychology that has yielded wonderful research with very promising findings. The impact of gratitude on joy and well-being is beyond doubt.
“I appreciate it when…” – appreciation is a great gift and your best return on investment! Words of acknowledgment make us feel visible and important. You easily boost the morale of the other. I believe that appreciation which is directed at the action not at the person is more effective as it is not loaded with personal evaluation or judgement.
“I enjoyed it…I liked it when… ”. Reflecting on what worked well is free from judgement and can encourage people to do more. Further, it reassures those who try to make you happy and will instantly enhance closeness and openness.
“what do you mean? ” – curiosity is your essential tool to overcome reactivity in emotionally loaded situations. Just bring the “?” when your brain reacts with “!!”.
“Wow!”– the expression of wonder and awe brings back to life the child spirit… the childlike eyes that see things for the first time. Your ‘wow’ reaction is like pressing the ’refresh’ button in the brain.
“I can see the possibility of…“ – future images have enormous power to affect us. We want to tap into this power. We want to use words that evoke future visions to guide and motivate us in the present moment.
Please do not confuse the mindset of abundance with denying the dark side. To ignore risks is stupidity. But not to see the light is a mental disability. An abundance mindset means that we see this light, live it and share it with others.
About the author:
Guy (Hagai) Avisar is a psychologist with more than 30 years of experience helping people with relationship issues