Motivating mindset musingsSep 11, 2023
A different blog to the usual– I’ve had three key moments over the past six weeks or so that have led me to reflect and to think about things differently. I thought I’d share my mindset musings…
Change your thoughts, change your circumstances
Action is the antidote to anxiety. I heard this recently and it really struck a chord with me. I did a bit of research and apparently this phrase was coined by Gretchen Rubin- the author of The Happiness Project, amongst other books.
I have been putting this into practice recently as I’ve been feeling somewhat overwhelmed by work projects. It’s all very exciting stuff however, I’m spinning a lot of plates and haven’t been able to see the wood for the trees in terms of knowing where to start. I can tend to retreat and allow inertia, or procrastination to set in, rather than to actually do anything and it’s a vicious circle.
When I recognise this pattern, I give myself a talking to and work out what I can do to take the first step- what’s the first action I can take to make a start. Once I begin, a momentum builds and the sense of overwhelm dissipates; as I work towards my goal, I can tick off the wins along the way and I feel a sense of achievement, which feels far more positive than flailing around doing nothing.
The results we create for ourselves in life will depend on the nature of our thoughts, so if I’m thinking there’s too much for me to do, that I don’t know where to start, that the situation feels hopeless, the resulting feelings are likely to be that of worry, overwhelm, feeling panicky. This will manifest itself in avoidance, inaction, inertia, and procrastination. As a result, nothing gets done and I’ve proved myself right- it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. By changing the way you are thinking what you are thinking about, those more helpful thoughts such as: ‘I’ve got this. Small steps will get me started and I can build the momentum,’ will lead to feelings of courage, and a can-do attitude and in turn, your inaction becomes action, thus creating a whole different set of circumstances for yourself.
Action is the antidote to anxiety. It’s one I regularly put into practice now and it really does change the results I create for myself.
Scream if you want to go faster
This leads nicely to my second key moment during the summer.
My family and I went to Chicago to visit friends. We had a whale of a time watching the Chicago Cubs unfortunately get thrashed at baseball, a trip to the City to take in the sights, swimming in Lake Michigan and of course, no visit would have been complete in my daughters’ opinion without going to the Six Flags theme park.
I’m not a huge fan of theme parks but my kids love them and over the years, we’ve been to Alton Towers several times and I have braved many rides and faced my fears head on. So, it was a given that Six Flags would be on the list of things to do whilst in Chicago. We arrived nice and early to ensure we were one of the first in the queue (oh how happy I was that we could have even more time to maximise the rides– said very sarcastically!) and the girls were busy pointing out the rides on the map that they’d like to go on.
Once in the Park, we were strategic about where to go first, to try to miss the crowds and cram in as many rollercoasters as possible- oh joy.
And there it was- The Giant Drop. Essentially a 200 something foot tower whereby you’re strapped into your seat and raised about 20 stories in the air, dangled over the park for around 10 seconds and then dropped to the ground at about 60 miles per hour. I kid you not.
My girls asked me if I’d go on that ride with them. It was a hard no from me. Definitely not. Please don’t pester me about it I said, because it won’t be happening.
That tower loomed above me all day as we walked around the theme park and it felt like I couldn’t escape it. Unbeknownst to me, my subconscious was of course busy getting on with processing the thought of going on the ride. After all, it wasn’t that I couldn’t – it was that I wouldn’t. Logically, and physically, there was no reason I couldn’t do The Giant Drop. It was fear I was allowing to get in the way. It’s funny because my husband didn’t want to go on it. Pure and simple. But for me, it was fear. And so I worked on what I was allowing my imagination to do– to keep my word small. I was letting my thoughts run along the lines of all that could go wrong which let’s face it, although possible, was highly unlikely. Nine hours in that theme park. Nine hours. And I made The Giant Drop the last ride I went on. Was I petrified? Heck yes. But how proud did I feel when I’d done it. In fact, I did the ‘Big Five’ rollercoasters that day too, and my girls still talk about how proud they are of me that I faced my fears and rode the rides. I came, I saw, I rode, I conquered. Carpe Diem. That’s what they say isn’t it? Seize the Day. So I did.
Inspire a desire for change
Never underestimate the impact you have on other people. Staying with friends whilst on holiday in Chicago meant that we could see America through their eyes, more than as tourists. In the neighbourhood where our friends live, on Friday evenings they take it in turns to host a get together. You pitch up with the kids, take a beverage and some chips n dips, and have a catch up. We were invited to one of these hangouts and met some welcoming and friendly folk.
I was chatting to one lady about what we’d got up to that day, saying that we’d been to the local open-air pool and how much fun we’d all had. I said that for the first time in four decades, I’d jumped off a diving board- about five metres. I’d always done this as a child but as I got older, fear had crept in. However, facing my fears (there was a theme to this holiday!), and questioning the basis of why I didn’t want to dive, I did it. Just a good ole pencil dive mind you, but I did it.
Katie, the neighbour I was chatting to, asked me what had made me want to do it. I replied that it was often my husband who would lark about in the pool- always jumping in, diving, mucking around with the children, whilst I would do breaststroke up and down, looking serene but not wanting to go underwater. So, I changed it up and again, like the theme park, my girls loved that I was getting involved. They also said they were so proud that I’d done something I hadn’t done for sooo long! The way I figured it, I said to Katie, was that I wanted my girls to remember fun times when I’d get involved, but to also see that I’d do stuff that I might not usually do, because I’d challenged myself. As a parent, you are a role model and what I wanted to do was exemplify getting out on that plank (quite literally!), challenging myself, and the satisfaction, sense of achievement, and joy, that that can bring.
Katie admitted she never even gets in the pool with her kids, that she doesn’t like the faff of getting wet and needing to get changed; she said she prefers to sit at the side of the pool and read a book. And I get it. I really do. There was no judgement on my part.
Later the next day, she messaged my friend Catherine and said:
‘Please tell your friend that when I took the twins to the pool today, for a change, I got in and I had such a great time with them. It made such a difference to their day and they haven’t stopped talking about how much fun they had with me. What Kirsty said really made me think so please tell her the difference it made’.
I don’t mind admitting that I felt choked up.
When you share your growth moments with others, you don’t realise the positive effect it might have, that it might inspire action. I am lucky that I did to find out.
There we have it, three key moments for me over the past six weeks and ones which maybe are food for thought.
- Action is the antidote for anxiety.
- Your thinking creates your results and circumstances.
- Share your growth moments and maybe you’ll inspire others.
. . . . . . .
If you have found this blog helpful and know of someone who would appreciate reading it too, please do share with those you know.
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