Renovate Your Mindset
We lived in our old colonial in Virginia for nearly 10 years before I was able to convince my husband that it was time to do something with the kitchen. Every time I brought it up he would respond with “but it is just fine the way it is”. It wasn’t. It was the original kitchen from 1955. Sad blue countertops that were no longer parallel to the ground (I learned that lesson when I placed a few grapes on the cutting board, only to watch them roll one by one between the counter and the fridge. And - no - I didn’t retrieve them.) Dark brown cabinets, with 5 layers of peeling floral contact paper, that slammed shut with greasy magnets. The grey linoleum floor peeling up at the corners. The copper tiles on the backsplash that fell off the wall when disturbed.The “new” gas oven that was top of the line - in 1981. The blue pendant light that reminded guests of a genie lamp. You are so right, dear. The kitchen is just fine.
To renovate is to improve a broken, damaged or outdated structure. We renovate because the space is no longer serving us well. Maybe we renovate because we are disgusted by how it looks or feels. Renovations happen when we realize that someone else’s choices for the space clash with our own. Renovations are chosen for us when a disaster strikes and we are forced to repair the damage. I thought our kitchen warranted a renovation.
What if we could renovate our mindset like we do our living spaces? We come to the realization that our “space”, or in this case, our mind, is no longer serving us well. Maybe our mind is letting us down somehow, or preventing us from being our very best. Maybe the ideas we have in our heads are no longer who we want to be, or how we want to feel. So we should call in the contractor, and set about the task of making a change.
Your mindset is your established set of attitudes about yourself and the world around you that determine your behavior, outlook or mental attitude. A fixed mindset leads you to see things in just black and white terms. You believe your potential is fixed. You find challenges only difficult, that can either be completed or not, based on your own finite abilities. You take criticism very personally and rather than using it to learn or adjust, you simply absorb that negativity and cease taking on tasks that might offer any critique. A fixed mindset allows you to give up without feeling any guilt. You think “why try if I can’t do it and I can’t change who I am?”
On the other hand, a growth mindset allows you to see the value in growing and changing and learning from what comes your way. Challenges are opportunities. Your personal effort is worthwhile and matters. Trying new things and stumbling along the way is how life works best, and you believe that anything you set your mind to is possible. It is not hard to see why a growth mindset is more valuable and if you don’t currently have one, why a renovation is an order. And it starts with admitting that a renovation is needed in the first place. Ask yourself honestly how your own thoughts are either supporting your success or holding you back. Can you think of times when you have felt like you let yourself down, or didn’t have your own back? Are you just tired of feeling the way that you do?
Start by stopping the negative and defeatist self-talk. It does absolutely nothing for you and damages your mental health in ways you might not know until later on. Negativity that is generated from your own thoughts can be cured with focused repetition and practice. Replace negative thoughts about your work and progress with something positive, or at least neutral. It honors your humanity, as someone who, like everyone else, fails now and again. And it creates a foundation for trying again. Ask yourself, would you ever say that terrible thing to someone else? So why is it ok to say it to yourself? It’s not. Get out of the habit of using yourself as a punching bag that can absorb negativity.
Try to remember that life doesn’t happen TO you, it happens FOR you. Every experience and event is for you to learn from and grow from. You are not just an idle participant in what happens but the recipient of vital feedback and information that, if used wisely, will help you. This includes viewing any setbacks as just opportunities to do it differently next time.
Give yourself a break - you don’t know everything. You can’t do everything. You aren’t going to be liked by everyone. You aren’t going to be perfect. Falling short of the unrealistic expectations that you have created for yourself, or adopted from an outside narrative, hurts you. But setting realistic expectations that you can reasonably achieve gives you momentum to continue, and the opportunity to feel success.
Develop the good mental habit of learning and practicing statements that follow the 3 Ps - positive, powerful, and proactive. There is no shortage of inspirational quotes and books, mantras and magnets, that offer doses of hope. Find those that ring truest for you and keep you motivated. Repeat them. Post them. Adopt them. Your mental health can be positively or negatively affected by what you say to yourself and what words you decide to absorb.
The most important step to renovating your mindset is remembering that your thoughts are your choice. So you can choose to believe that you have limits or finite skills, or you can choose to believe in the power to rise above and grow and change, each and every day. A growth mindset reminds us that choosing to withhold judgment, welcome the challenges and learn from hardship is powerful. How you feel, and what you do with how you feel, is your most powerful choice.
When we finally set forth with our kitchen renovation, my excitement and anticipation was quickly replaced with trepidation and terror. Nothing I had flagged in design magazines actually fit in the space, or in my budget. The disruption to the rest of the house was messy and steady. And it was taking forever. The renovation process was not fun but the end result was totally worth it. Once we saw the final result, even my reluctant penny-pinching husband agreed that it had been worth all of the effort. I could do amazing new things in my renovated kitchen.
And you can do amazing new things with your newly renovated mindset - one that allows you to meet challenges and believe in your own abilities; to learn from experiences and never allow yourself to quit before you have tried; to choose to believe in what you alone can do. With a renovated kitchen I could cook up gourmet meals in style. I can’t wait to see what you will create with your new mindset.