By Jeff Waller, 7 Mindsets Co-Creator and VP of Educational Services
One question we get more than just about any other is, “How do you change your mindsets?”
We all want optimism, self-esteem, the ability to develop strong relationships, and the sense that we control our destiny.
We all want to be gracious, loving and have the courage to take risks and be vulnerable in our lives.
The question is, how do we train our minds so that these qualities are second-nature?
A few years ago, we met a teacher who was getting extraordinary results with some at-risk students. She had developed an 8-week process to help her students overcome the limiting beliefs in their lives.
These students would identify the most destructive limiting beliefs they had. For example, many believed themselves to be unintelligent and lacking in the ability to succeed in school. The teacher would have these students write down these limiting beliefs, such as, “I am not good at math.”
She would then ask the students to write down a statement that represented how they wanted to feel, typically the exact opposite of the limiting belief statement. So the counter statement for the above might be, “I am good at math and getting better every day.”
For 8 weeks, these students were asked to identify times when their limiting beliefs were present. When the limiting beliefs activated in their minds, they would pretend the left side of their heads had an ‘OFF’ button that would turn off the negative or limiting thoughts. They would first gently press their left temples to turn the negative thoughts off, then press their right temples to turn on the new positive messages.
Each week, the students would meet and discuss their progress. The teacher began to see transformative improvements, not just in academic areas, but also with overall attitude, behavior and attendance. The goal was to change their mindsets, which meant changing how they viewed themselves, their environment and the world.
When the process was complete, these students would be making better decisions and taking more purposeful actions in the present. Ready to start your own training regimen?
Here’s a proven mindset training process for teachers and students:
“Flipping the Switch” to Change Mindsets
Step 1 – Define the single most destructive limiting belief (excuse, resentment, fear or self-criticism) you have.
Step 2 – On a sheet of paper, write down the limiting belief. For example, “I am bad at math.”
Step 3 – Write down the new positive mindset you would like to have. For example, “I am good at math and getting better every day.”
Step 4 – Identify the circumstances that typically bring the negative thinking to the forefront. For example, “Before math tests, when participating in math class or when studying with friends.”
Step 5 – When the negative thought or emotion arises:
- Imagine your left temple is the ‘OFF’ button for the old version of you. Gently press the button to turn off the negative thought.
- Imagine your right temple is the ‘ON’ button for the new and improved version you. Gently press that button and start saying the new positive mindset in your mind (I am good at math and getting better every day).
Step 6 – Each day, go back to your sheet of paper and journal your activity for the day. If in an open classroom setting or with a child, it is a good idea to have a 20 to 30 minute discussion each week.
Step 7 – Execute this process for 8 weeks (or until the new thinking doesn’t feel like such a conscious effort). Your mindset training is complete!
The theory behind the success of this approach has driven many successful personal change efforts. It can be seen in psychology through the process of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, as well as commercial programs such as Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) and the Sedona Method.
In simple terms, the essential moment in personal change is the moment when the impulse toward negative thinking actually arrives in our minds.
If we can recognize this impulse at that moment and immediately replace it with a new, positive one, we will fundamentally change the course of events.
You see, we can set goals all day long and say our daily affirmations, but until the rubber hits the road and we actually think and act differently in a sustained way, real change hasn’t taken place.
The coolest and most important part of this process is that, if we are able to change our thoughts and actions in these critical moments, we systematically weaken the impulses. Sometimes, the limiting belief is dissolved the first time this takes place; others can require more time and effort.
However, if we do this consistently, we can make this thought-replacement permanent.
By replacing these negative impulses with impulses containing the language of hope, high expectations and happiness, we’ll create a mindset change that improves the course of our lives forever.
As Einstein said, we cannot solve the issues we face at the same level of thinking that created them.
To change the results we’re getting, we must start to systematically change the way we think, and make our lives the result of our very best thinking!