Five Deadly Mind Traps and How to Break Free
There are a great many people who succeed despite having nasty habits, inadequate interpersonal relationships and a pessimistic view on life. It’s not easy to succeed like that, but it is possible. However, there are certain mind traps that even the unruliest of successful people do not allow themselves to fall prey to. These are the deadly mind traps that will surely keep success at arm’s length, unless you learn to break free. What are those traps? How can we shatter the traps from their grip in our minds? Read on…
1. Comparing yourself to others
Ah, this is a big trap, especially in our Instagram/Facebook/Snap Chat era. Comparison is a deadly mind trap because it keeps you focused on the accomplishment of others instead of your own. You stare at another person’s perfectly crafted life, with amazing lighting and fun adventures and you wish you lived that life. You sit at a meeting across from someone with an expensive outfit and immaculately coiffed hair and you look down at your own look and find it wanting. You compare your career to the girl across the hall.
What does this mind trap do? It keeps you stuck. Completely stuck. Not only do you begin to look down, and, consequently doubt your own beauty, talents, abilities and achievements, but you also judge your success on the standard of another’s life. I have so much to say about comparing yourself to others: The time you waste trying to conform into a mold that will ultimately leave you unsatisfied, the self-doubt it brings when you come up short, the despair you feel when it is not as “effortless” for you as it seems to be for the other person (spoiler alert: It’s not effortless for them, either), the blow it gives to your self-esteem, and so on. This should be a blog post of its own.
How to break free: Loads of self-awareness, self-talk and self-love.
(1)First, take note of the problem by monitoring your thoughts. Actively look for signs you are comparing yourself to others. The look you give to the girl walking down the street, sizing her up and down, the thoughts you have as you’re scrolling through social media, etc. The more you try to monitor yourself, the easier it will be to “catch” yourself in the act.
(2) Next, practice self-talk. Shut down the comparison as soon as you see it. Do that by filling your mind with alternate chat. Tell yourself: “I love my life, I picked this outfit because I liked it. I am focused on my own success (and remind yourself of your own goals), I love this and this about me. I’m sure this person has their own imperfections and their own battles.” Make the person seem as human as possible. Can I tell you something that works for me? Picture the person pooping LOL. I guarantee you it will humanize the person immediately.
(3)Lastly, practice self-love. Actively build yourself up. Applaud yourself when you do something great, focus on the learning experience instead of the failure when you make a mistake. The more you build yourself up, the less necessary it will be to find comfort in comparison.
I guarantee that a personalized victory will lead to greater personal satisfaction that is far superior to some paint-by-numbers, copy-cat, achievement.
2. If, then mentality
This mind trap comes from placing unrealistic conditions on your success. The “if, then” mentality tells you:
I’ll be successful if my boss gives me a chance. I’ll work on my side job if I’m not too tired from work. I’ll make new friends if I’m introduced to them by others. If it’s not too cold, too hard, too far. If I’m not too tired, too busy, too fat/short/ugly/tall.
You may not notice it, but I guarantee you everyone has these tricky little “if, then” traps in their mind. They aren’t always tragically keeping us from achievement, but many people walk around putting crazy conditions to their success. A big one: I’ll do better if this gets easier. I’ll start if the conditions are perfect. Sound familiar?
These “if, thens” will keep us from living our lives. When you put the responsibility on chance, on the universe, on others, on luck and on your environment, you give away your power to live a full, focused and successful life. Great achievement comes from doing work no matter what. Success comes from breaking through the odds, from working through the exhaustion, from focusing even when it’s all falling apart. Obstacles will ALWAYS present itself. Success is not based on conditions, but on overcoming despite complications.
How to break free: Counter argue. As with anything, the first step is always awareness. Begin by paying attention to your thoughts and trying to hone in on when you are giving yourself an “If, then” excuse. Then, counter argue until the excuse falls apart.
It would go something like this:
I’ll go to the gym if I’m not so tired. Okay, but I’m going to be tired every day this month. And then I will keep on eating and not exercising, my weight will increase, I’ll no longer fit in my clothes. The problem isn’t me being tired, but finding a better time to workout. Can I go during lunch? What if I watch my Netflix show on the treadmill instead of on the couch? Then I can go home and crash.
And you go through the entire process until the excuse is completely shut down. You know your life better than anyone and I’m confident we can all find ways to counter argue our excuses.
3. Focusing on the bad
This mind trap keeps you focused on everything that is bad and difficult and wrong in life. You want to write an article, but it’s hard and you’re tired and you have other work to do and it’s challenging to market yourself, and it will be so very difficult. You want to lose weight but meal planning is a hassle, the gym is crowded and smelly and your body hurts. This mind trap is one of the most discouraging traps because it is so easy to get completely uninspired and demotivated. Focusing on the bad will make the work seem overwhelming and you are more than likely to quit before you even begin.
Please understand that there are bad and hard parts to every bit of worthwhile work. There are amazing and wonderful parts to every bit of worthwhile work. And I guarantee you that the amazing parts are so very worth going through the hard parts. So, why focus on the bad when you can focus on the wonderful?
How to break free: Focus on the good! Every time you think of the hard and difficult aspects of doing something, counter it with all of the amazing things that will come out of taking action. Thinking of the wonderful will get you through the long days of good old fashioned hard work that is an absolute precursor to better, easier days.
4. You think it should be easy
We see and read interviews with amazingly successful people and we think how effortless it all looks. Sure, in those interviews they talk about their hard times, but it doesn’t feel real to us. All we see is a perfectly canvased photograph with a well-edited article and our subconscious sneakily tells us that THAT is the picture of success. And so we believe that it should be easy. Or, rather that it should feel effortless, even during hard times. When reality proves otherwise, we quit.
Please understand that nothing worth getting is ever easy to get. When we read about the trials and hardships that successful men and women go through, the reason why it doesn’t “feel” hard to you is because it’s not personal. But while they were going through the motions, it felt challenging. If felt hard. It felt awkward. It felt difficult. It felt impossible. It doesn’t have to feel easy! The feeling of hardship is actually a great indicator that you are breaking through your comfort zone on your way to scale higher than ever before!
How to break free: Learn to be comfortable with discomfort. This will come through practice and persistence. Stay the course when it becomes uncomfortable. When it doesn’t feel like second nature to you, keep practicing. When it becomes tough, work harder. The more you expand out of your comfort zone, the more you’ll understand that the magic truly happens outside of it.
5. You don’t have a plan
Successful people plan. Unsuccessful people rely on their memories. Take it from someone who spent years relying on her memory! For a long time, I’d start write my goals at the beginning of the year or during a particularly motivated period of my life and then I’d forget them. I’d go through months without so much as a glance at the paper, thinking that my goals were safeguarded within my mind. Imagine my surprise when I’d find the piece of paper at the bottom of a handbag somewhere and notice that I had completely forgotten goals that were and still are extremely important to me.
Don’t feel bad if you are the same! Life is busy and messy and we get caught in the details and forget the big picture. It happens to everyone.
How to break free: Write.it.down. Don’t make the mistake of forcing yourself to write enormous, detailed plans. Keep it simple. Buy a notebook (bullet journals are all the rage right now!) and write them down. Look at what you wrote constantly. Cross things out as you’ve completed them (it feels so good!). Break down big goals into attainable chunks. Whatever you do, make sure to have it on you at all times and look at it first thing in the morning and again at night. I guarantee you’ll find yourself accomplishing more than you’ve ever done before!
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