I think we can all agree that all of 2020 has been crazy, uncertain, and has pushed us in ways we never expected, on top of our already demanding lives. It’s normal to have fallen into some sort of depression, or have increased levels of anxiety, and just feeling so overwhelmed by anything and everyone.
But you also have this feeling in your gut, that you need to do something, something for yourself. It’s hard to get there, and I was there too. If anything, I am still practicing to refine my mind management skills to do even more than my initial results and progress.
In this episode, I will be sharing with you my mindset shifts per topic on how I was able to overcome the before & after with clarity. You’re going to walk away with a renewed sense of empowerment to confront what you are absolutely able to overcome, by yourself, so you can sit up straight, focus on the task at hand, and get on with your day.
Podcast Episode #1 Transcript
In this episode, I will be letting you in on my secrets to personal growth and the behind the scenes on how I have been able to manage my mind for clarity for my new journey ahead. But before we dive into the 8 specific areas of mental shifts for clarity and I open up the can of vulnerability, I would like to level set with you on where I am coming from.
The best explanation I can provide in mainstream media is an episode called “Mindfulness” from this Netflix documentary series called “The Mind, Explained”. It shows a scientific point of view on what mindfulness by practicing meditation can do to us by how our brain is stimulated with our emotions, and how it affects what we do daily.
“Expert meditators, like all of us, can’t fully control what happens in their lives, but they have much better control on how they respond. And that can be a powerful tool when tensions are high. In the emotional center of the brain, the Amygdala, beginners of mindfulness have a lot of activation there when anticipating pain, but experts don’t. It’s as if long-term meditators view pain as a neutral event, not an emotional ordeal.”
The documentary suggests that the real effect of mindfulness is the ability to mediate the body’s response to outside stimuli. This means that expert meditators have an increased ability to determine their response in a given circumstance. As one meditator in the episode put it, it’s not “about fighting the panic…I welcome the panic in and watch it.”
Rather than using meditation to push feelings under the rug, mindfulness is the ability to observe those feelings and control your reaction to them. Rather than new age concepts of “acceptance,” or “choosing happiness,” mindfulness is a tool to stop, focus, and think. Kind of like “think before you speak”.
This way of thinking has even seeped into the corporate world, and for a good reason. To the point that the company Salesforce, has meditation centers on every floor on their headquarters in a bid to foster innovation.
Mindfulness allows us to notice things around us (what we call “openness”), then focus on the things we choose, and control in the present how to go about it.
In other words, to train your mind to notice what’s around you, design your reaction to it, and focus your mind on the opportunity. To practice mindfulness is to change the world around you, rather than let the world change you. Maybe even to innovate. And in that way, make us a little more human.
So what does this really mean to you on the daily?
We are talking about how to deal with drama at work, how to accept criticism and feedback on your creative work that you presented yesterday and poured your heart and soul into, but it wasn’t deemed correct by your colleagues. Or if you work in a super high-pressured environment such as an advertising agency or marketing department that is “always-on” and perhaps disorganized on the regular, because of those “everyday fires”.
Besides external situations, there are many internal scenarios, too. How to overcome imposter syndrome at work or doing something new like a hobby or career change, or how to deal with those awesome political debates over Facebook with your family, friends, and acquaintances, or even how to deal with that little voice inside your head that won’t shut up.
Now, practicing these 8 mindset shifts for clarity did not happen overnight. I will honestly tell you that it has taken me two years, but really it has only been the last 6 months of my life since the date of this recording, I have been able to string it all together.
When I start feeling like I am losing my mind or control a little bit, and start going down a rabbit hole of dark thoughts, I can now identify that and tell myself to manage my mind and work on my coping mechanisms that are safe, positive, and can get me back up.
Depression and anxiety is something not to fight with, but to break up with and make some decisions with yourself to find that courage within, because you do have the courage within to be free.
Alright, rockstar, are you ready? Let’s dive into these 8 mindset shifts for clarity.
Mindset Shift #1: Decision Making
Decision-making can be easy for some, and hard for others. For me, it’s a no-brainer when I’m in my subject matter expertise, digital advertising. But when it comes to something I may not be familiar with and have a learning curve, it’s hard to make decisions when becoming that subject matter expert.
Because I am an emotional person, meaning, I communicate and process with my feelings, some of my personal decisions have been heavily influenced by my emotions. Now, as an entrepreneur, it’s been tough to make individual decisions, and I have had to learn to make a decision *without* any emotions, look at it black and white, and see if it ladders up to my goals.
It’s understanding the information I have at the time to make a decision. And if I found out about something better next week, I’m not to punish myself and be like “damnit Cee, if you just waited longer, you wouldn’t have wasted your time and money to do x, y, z. Now look at you, you have to do it again..” — and that’s when you start talking negatively, and it’s unhealthy as fuck.
No decision is a bad or good decision. Remove the emotions, and it is JUST a decision. So what? You get NEW information next week. What do you do? Make a new decision.
The point is, it is better to make a decision and act on it, than to never even decide at all.
Another tip is instead of worrying about it over and over, and even maybe passing an opportunity deadline… I now give myself a deadline to *make* a decision. It encourages me to get it over with and not go down a rabbit hole.
I’ve learned to categorize decisions to be just that, decisions. You are removing the emotions attached to the decision. It will remove so much stress and burden off your shoulders, and by reframing your mind on how to make decisions, it will help you give yourself clarity and focus to get on with your day.
Mindset Shift #2: Individualism
I love this quote from Paulo Coelho, “Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.”
So powerful, and this is right up my alley. Because as I am nearing 31 years old, I’ve been realizing over time that in my 10s and 20s, I had been raised by inner and external circles, social pressure and mainstream traditions that had shaped my goals then. Even the people closest to me who love and protect me so much, have had such a heavy influence because I needed direction. Whether that was which university to go to, which industry to jump into, which lifestyle decisions to make, which jobs or promotion levels to achieve, or even down to what kind of hairstyle or appearance I should be showing.
Those layers became the outward identity of me, and I was living that identity. But over time, I realized that’s not who I am, that’s just how I was launched into society.
So what got me to really identify, assess, and discard those layers of identity and understand who I really am is by doing my ikigai. Ikigai, is a Japanese concept that allows you to know what you are good at and what you love doing. The direct translation of ikigai is “the reason for being”. It is the reason to jump out of bed each morning.
I thought at first, omg this is just another exercise. I was downplaying it. Probably like you are now if this is the first time you are hearing what ikigai is. Boy, I was wrong. I was so so wrong.
I sat down, grabbed a large piece of paper and a pen, and shut the door. After filling in the blanks of “What you love”, “what the world needs”, and “what you are good at” and “what you can be paid for” – I had an epiphany. Understanding my ikigai unlocked me as a human being, and that night, Live Learn Dream was born.
By having clarity of who I am as an individual *today*, not 10 years ago, was an absolute game changer. If you would like to do this exercise too, go to livelearndream.com/ikigai to print out your free ikigai worksheet.
Reframing my mind to gather my thoughts to reflect who I *really* am, vs the facade built by society as a young adult, has helped me with the rest of these mindset shifts.
Mindset Shift #3: Finance
With finance, it hasn’t been easy to think about it, let alone change how I was dealing with my finances. I had to reframe my mind that how I found success or strategize with money, is different today than how I dealt with it as a student, as a junior, then mid-level, then senior, and then uber senior professional. When transitioning from 9-to-5 to being a business owner, there’s a way on how I had to unlearn the fear of investments, and the fear of doing something different than I would typically have done in the past.
So here’s a real life example from behind the scenes of my gift shop where I make by hand super soft shirts: as a perfectionist, I carried that level of expectation over to my shop. I wanted to make sure that each and every customer who took a leap of faith and shopped small with me, would be 100% satisfied. Because it’s so important to have returning customers and have them help me spread the word, because I’m new!
At first, I only had three shirt colors: white, dark heather grey, and black. I knew my potential customers wanted other colors, but when I looked at my bank account, it just didn’t make sense to me and decided that I would buy the materials as demand scaled up. I realized that it was such a lost opportunity, and there are consequences (which I had lost many potential sales to) for not having the stock on hand when the pandemic turned everything online, and the stock of materials nationwide dried up and was simply unavailable. So now, I know that it’s okay to invest upfront on the stock quantity for the colors I have decided, so when a shirt goes viral, I do have the stock on hand to serve in times when other shops don’t have inventory, too.
See how that worked? I had to reframe my mind of finance as my environment and needs have changed. The same old way would not have worked in this scenario as an entrepreneur.
Mindset Shift #4: Perfectionism
After 10 years of making everything pixel perfect, and being the rockstar senior digital producer that I am, it was extremely hard for me not to have the same expectations and level of perfectionism for every output as a solopreneur. I have delayed a lot of my content, even this podcast, because I wanted things to be perfected in some shape or form.
It held me back. Because it’s not like I have multiple teams who I can delegate to do the work and trust in their expertise to come back with a quality and expected level of effort. I had to unlearn the expectation that even though I can create the same level of work, I am only one person.
It is better to get shit done, so the brand is operational, rather than push everything back. This though, would be a different situation if my brand was set up as a startup company.
I had to let go of it all, and just do it. And I encourage anyone who is transitioning from 9-to-5 to understand that it’s hard and extremely challenging when you become an entrepreneur. But it’s super rewarding when you know that you were able to do it.
Also, thank goodness for technology right? There are so many tools and resources out there that will already help refine your work to be at a certain quality level. And on the other hand, the trend is to have more “real” and “authentic” content that isn’t full of filters and perfectionism like the big brands. Global brands have also had to shift their creative to look more raw too. Which is very opposite to what we have learned in the past decades. But, it also isn’t something new. You can indeed have the best of both worlds, it just depends on which platform you choose to do it on.
More often than not, as entrepreneurs and creatives at heart, we want to create and create and create, often leaving us with an open loop and little time to perfect what we created. Let. It. Go. and just show up.
Mindset Shift #5: Mental Boundaries
I am definitely an empathetic person and I am strong in cognitive empathy and emotional empathy, but I best serve with compassionate empathy. Sometimes, I let people’s emotions take over me, and I have now learned to create mental boundaries. A quote from Corrine Crabtree, “Just because I can, doesn’t mean I should”.
In other words, you are the captain of your own ship. We choose our hard. Other people will have an opinion and that is up to YOU if you want that opinion to take up space, or you can say thanks, acknowledge it, and archive it if it doesn’t work for you.
Saying no, doesn’t make you a bitch. Saying no, means that you have other commitments, and it’s okay to communicate that. Being a “yes” human being, is allowing people to walk all over you, and not allowing YOU to think for yourself. I’ve now learned how to create these boundaries, and not have people affect me with their opinions, especially when they haven’t been invested in me at all. A relationship is a two-way street, if one is putting more effort than the other, why should you let that person bring you down or even just take up space in your head, when they aren’t even present?
Identify, acknowledge, archive, and move on with your life. Reframe every external thought as an opportunity, but never feel like you need to always say yes to everything that comes your way. Create boundaries that are healthy for you and them. Because, the distance between your dreams and reality is called action.
Mindset Shift #6: Social Anxiety
This is very important especially during this pandemic. We are all experiencing heightened anxiety levels, and we are learning to communicate and share more of our lives online or in personal Zoom calls.
I felt so alone, and felt like I needed constant companions on the daily, which I am blessed to have great and different groups of friends. However, I realized that I depended on it a bit too much and I needed to feel calm and ok with my “me” time. Those friends aren’t going to go anywhere. Sure, you might not be as completely intimate with one another, but it doesn’t mean you’ll have broken up. We all need to respect each other’s journey through this pandemic.
So, I had to reframe my mind. I started to understand that time is of the essence. Time is gold. Time is the most precious commodity – more than money. And I think we are all starting to understand this with the pandemic. Many lives have been lost, and on the daily, we are losing people who have shorter, unexpected life spans. This pandemic has helped me understand that I need to not worry about what other people think, not feel codependent on anyone, and live the life I want to live, of course, within the restraints of quarantining.
I had to reframe my mind that I am lucky to be alive and not dealing with any symptoms or long-term effects of the virus that impacts many people’s daily routines and concentration levels.
The reality and truth in the full disclosure is… if I were to die in an unnatural death, and I had had a chance to change things and do things that I really wanted to do, but because of all my anxiety I couldn’t and just pushed it all off to “I’ll do it later” land…. I would not be happy.
So I have had to unlearn the question that we were all asked when growing up, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s now “what do you want to be remembered for”? I want to be remembered as one who helped people who couldn’t access knowledge and skill sets in the areas I am professionally skilled in, because of systemic oppression.
Mindset Shift #7: Overwhelm
One of my most recent favorite quotes comes from Marie Foleo, “Overwhelm is a choice.” That alone, speaks volumes as how you can reframe your mind when you identify that you are feeling overwhelmed.
Another public figure and therapist, Lori Gottlieb (GOTT – LEE – EHB) said, “People will try to numb out their feelings, so many people feel like numbness is a way of managing their feelings. Numbness isn’t nothingness, it’s not about not having feelings, it’s being overwhelmed by too many feelings. Your feelings don’t go away if you push them down.”
So if you choose which situations *should*, key word here *should* take your attention and space in your mind, then it is easy to compartmentalize other feelings that you can archive.
It is definitely hard when you are actually “in it”, being overwhelmed that is, but if you can work on practicing to identify when you are overwhelmed and how to shift your mind within being overwhelmed, you will be in a much better place.
This is the same process you can apply to when you are infatuated with a new intimate partner, before it turns into a serious relationship, past the honeymoon phase.
Mindset Shift #8: The Little Voice
Ah…the little voice. The final mindset shift of this episode. I used to be so annoyed at my little voice. I’m always like, can you please shut up for once. Or? Not today, Satan! And for the longest time, I blamed it. I’m not going to lie, this one was probably the toughest mindset shift I’ve had to work on the past couple of years.
After educating myself a bit more, I learned that the technical term psychologists use for our mainstream lingo “little voice” is called “inner speech”.
An inner speech can help people understand the world and engage in it. But, sometimes, that inner monologue turns negative or becomes fixated on a thought. This obsession can be a sign of something else. Sometimes it can dictate someone’s anxiety process. If you find that you are over-analyzing and going through scenarios (that can be a problem).
And it was a problem for me.
I have been able to reframe my mind not to use my energy to get mad at it, especially when it goes down a negative rabbit hole, but to embrace its presence, and let it pass.
By practicing meditation and breathing techniques, it helps to strengthen your mindfulness. What’s so amazing about mindfulness practice is we can use mindfulness to be aware when we have those self-critical voices, and we can label that voice as “judging”.
We can notice when we have those judging voices because we have a mindfulness practice, such as meditation, that allows us to have quite a bit more self-awareness, more ability to regulate emotions, and all of the positive things that come with the mindfulness practice. When these thoughts come, we can be on top of them and not get so caught up. And just…let those thoughts pass by you, and not engage with them.
Alright rockstars, there you have it! 8 mindset shifts for clarity on how to manage your mind on your new journey ahead. For this episode’s show notes and other resources, head on over to livelearndream.com/reframeyourmind
I would love to know how you felt about this episode and connect with you on Instagram @livelearndream
Until next time!