I think hoping for the best but planning for the worst is a (relatively) helpful mind-tool to put things in perspective.
Often, however, we say we are “planning for the worst” but in reality we are just spending our time worrying about the worst, expecting the outcome to end horribly. And when the worst doesn’t happen, we ignore the good outcomes and immediately start focusing on the next worrisome possibility.
After the last few years, I don’t blame (or judge) anyone doing this.
The problem is what does all this worrying get us?
“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
How often do we lose in our minds before we even have tried?
There are many ways we can defeat ourselves, but the biggest one is in our minds.
A solid mindset is the foundation of any challenge or problem we face.
Put any two equally skilled athletes together in a competition and the one with the trained mindset will win.
Mindset is a squishy topic, to be sure. I wonder if it’s because we don’t necessarily have the vocabulary or cultural rituals or norms around talking about our conscious and subconscious? Or perhaps our self-defeating chatter is not something we are proud of, so we keep it to ourselves or release it to the world via complaints and social media comments.
Whatever the case, unless you are blunt and tell it like it is (or have a therapist or really great friend), we keep 1/3rd of ourselves usually to ourselves. This isn’t always bad, per se. Telling everyone around you that they are fat or boring might not be the best way to live.
But if that’s true, then why do we allow our thoughts to bully ourselves around internally?
If we hold back negative thoughts against others, why do we subject ourselves and allow negative thoughts directed towards ourselves?
When we are feeling low, our mind doesn’t pull any punches.
There’s a great Richard Feynman phrase worth remembering that goes “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”
We are the easiest person to defeat with our own minds if we are not careful. Replace ‘fool’ for ‘defeat: “You must not defeat yourself and you are the easiest person to defeat”.
Mindset is a skill to be practiced.
That’s not something we are taught.
I think the problem is we aren’t taught how to hone our minds. Hanging up cute visualization posters of cats reminding us we can ‘do it’ doesn’t count. When we are growing up, we have to learn to crawl, then wobble, fall and then stand before we can walk. We have to learn how to talk by observing and listening to the word our parents and people around us use. We also have to learn our ABCs and 123’s before we can write and read.
But no one teaches us how to think or visualize. Our minds are still crawling on the ground, lost to whatever squirrel piques our interest. We can ride a bike, type 70 words per minute, drive, sing, dance, start a business, get married, have kids, without knowing a single thing about mindset.
It’s impressive we’ve made it this far…
So what can we do to cultivate our minds?
We can read. We can seek out clear and insightful thoughts written down by smarter people from today and throughout history.
We can listen and observe. It takes a lot of effort to give others your full and undivided attention. Work those listening muscles.
We can talk. We can find someone or a group of people willing, to be honest with one another about what each person is struggling and going through and what each is doing to improve themselves.
We can mediate. Which really is just practicing breathing and observing. Mediation is a ritual we can cultivate to practice learning to notice our thoughts and not always be swept up by them.
We can visualize. We can practice mentally visualizing ourselves winning a game, owning a speech, doing the things we dream of doing.
Resolve yourself to hone your mind. Think better thoughts.
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.Frank Herbert, Dune
STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing — Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1455