Before I get into shifting mindsets, there is a little backstory to what inspired this month’s blog post.
The past six months have been pretty intense for me and my family. I did not share a great deal about it on social media, but we unexpectedly lost my father-in-law to illness last December. After that, we decided to have my mother-in-law move in with us. We sold the home she shared with my late father-in-law, and purchased a new home to accommodate her and our little family of three. At the end of June, we finally moved into our new home!
Okay, let me just get this out of the way: asking her to live with us was my idea (although my husband was quietly considering it before I said something). We all get along really well, and while I knew it would be a big adjustment, any other solution just didn’t feel right. Beyond that, there were more benefits than drawbacks to bringing her into the fold of our little family.
With that said, it hasn’t been an easy transition! The relationship dynamics alone have been a huge lesson.
So this is where I tapped into my own toolbox of mindset and attitude shifts, to manage my mental and emotional happiness, stability, and growth. If or when you are ever dealing with your own challenges, you can turn to these tools for support.
- Gratitude. I cannot say enough on how powerful this is. Gratitude can shift everything! In most cases, it is all you need to gain perspective and feel good. When my 4 year old son is cranky and grumpy, I tap into a gratitude practice with him and he shifts instantly. It’s amazing.
Do this: in moments of despair, frustration, or fear, stop and take just one deep breath. List off 3-5 things you are deeply grateful for in that moment. Get as simple or complex as you want with your gratitude. Notice how you feel!
- Breath. There is a reason why yogis say that “breath is king of the mind.” Where the breath goes, the mind will follow. Some wonderful ways to shift with breath is simply to stop and take ONE deep, conscious breath in and out. Then another. Go for 5 if you’re wild. Conscious breathing is magic.
Do this: breath counts for a 2-5 minutes, or until you feel a shift. You can either count to 10 with each inhale and exhale (for example: inhale = 1, exhale =2, inhale = 3, and so on, then repeat when you reach 10), or practice box breathing via 5-6 counts for inhale, hold, exhale, hold, and repeat until you feel the shift.
- Movement. Movement gets chemicals firing in our brains in a way that leads to unstoppable mindset shift. Duh. You know this is true! That’s why we practice yoga, that’s why people run, or walk, swim or cycle. Dance your heart out or seriously, find an open space and skip. Skip anywhere. It’s impossible to skip and be in a bad mood. When was the last time you skipped?
Do this: Jump, skip, run, dance, shake it all out. It doesn’t matter what. Just move!
- Music. Music connects to emotion, memory, loved ones, and pulls us out of our heads to change our mood. Of course, that’s why so many of us connect deeply with music! Turn on something calming, restful, or peaceful. Or maybe you need a boost? Throw on your favorite dance hits or uplifting songs that always get you out of your funk. Put something on that makes you laugh and let go.
Do this: create a 15 min Mindset Shift playlist and play it when you need that shift. It’s going to be tough to find the perfect songs in the moment–have it ready to go. Bonus: Make multiple themed lists: calm, uplifting, badass, etc. AND USE IT.
- Nature. Getting outside is a wonderful way to shift our mindset and our mood. Connecting to the earth with our feet or hands, breathing in fresh air, watching and witnessing the chaos and dance of life all around us helps. What I love most about nature as a way to shift, is the perspective it offers. Somehow in spite of what your partner said to piss you off, the ants are still working and the birds are still chirping. The dramas of our lives are so small in comparison to the drama of Life on this great planet.
Do this: go outside. Dig your feet into the dirt, sand, grass, water–whatever is accessible. Watch. Immerse your attention in the little details of life all around you. Imagine the dramas of their life. Absorb the resilience of these creatures all around you, and it’s very possible your mindset will begin to shift with this perspective.
- Sit with it, and let it go. At some point, you will realize that your yoga practice is not designed to help you run from your problems, it’s here to give you the strength to actually sit with it. Equanimity is a beautiful thing–it doesn’t dismiss or lessen the blow of life’s trials, but it’s allows you to feel the intensity of what’s going on outside you, while recognizing that change means good times and bad times are not forever. Equanimity is grace under fire. One of my favorite verses from the Upanishads (unfortunately I always forget which) talks about letting life move through you, like a wave. When you resist the waves, you get knocked down. When you swim from them, they will eventually catch up to you.
The best way to cultivate resilience in your emotion and mental states, is to feel it all, sit with it, accept what is unchangeable and do what you can to weather the storm in the meantime. This is NOT about complacency. This is the surrender at the point where you have done all you can.
- Expect the unexpected. Let go of any attachment you have to outcomes. Really, this was what I have used the most over the past 6+ months, to be okay. I have gone through a vast spectrum of emotions over how things have transpired and where all the pieces have landed. What I kept reminding myself of is that it was never going to land the way I would have expected, and that is perfectly okay. All I could do was control my own actions, my kindness, my mood, my self-care, and the rest is an opportunity to learn and grow as a person moving through dynamic relationships.
If you are about to embark on a big life transition, my number one advice is to prepare for the unexpected, and don’t expect it to look or be a certain way. Challenges are inevitable! But when we continue to show up anyway, willing to do the work to relate to the people we love or let go of attachment to the way we want things to be, we will experience greater joy and ease. It’s yet another aspect of equanimity–the active aspect of it, really.