Personal Growth

How to Shift Your Mindset to Thrive During Challenging Times

How to Shift Your Mindset to Thrive During Challenging Times
There is no denying that we’re in the midst of an incredibly challenging moment in time. This pandemic has thrown us all out of our comfort zones, changed our routines, and created waves of fear, grief, anger, uncertainty, and other powerful emotions in the global collective. The lack of control we’re all experiencing has many people feeling victimized by these circumstances.

But what if I told you that it doesn’t have to be that way? Would you believe that this is all in your mind?

Reality Has a Transient Nature

As a living, breathing, feeling human being, you are bound to experience challenging times like this. But the trick is remembering that while this feeling is real, this experience is only temporary, and soon you’ll be in a new season of life with new challenges to face.

Choosing to radically change your mind from believing what is real versus what is true, gives you power over your perception of external reality, and helps you lovingly observe reality without the added misguided evaluations of your circumstantial bias.

Choosing to believe in what is happening—your “reality”—as permanent is a mechanism of the habituated, untrained mind. There is a part of you that knows that the nature of all experiences is transient, constantly changing. This part of you is your essence, your awakened heart. That’s what you have to tap into.

What is real are your circumstances and feelings, but those are not permanent. Your circumstances and feelings are constantly changing. Reality has a transient nature. Reality is a perspective. It is changeable. Reality lives in your mind.

Truth Is Constant

Look at this in contrast to things that are true, which are unwavering and constant. They cannot be undone. Truth has an essential nature. Truth lives in your heart.

It’s real that there is a global crisis right now. But is it true that you are hopeless because of it? You may feel hopeless, but that feeling does not define you. It may be real that you lost your job and feel anxious and fearful as a result, but is it true that you will lose your value and identity while unemployed? No.

The truth is that at the end of the day, you are still wonderful, divine, deserving you—regardless of your outer circumstances.

Living in your heart helps you focus on what is true despite the circumstances around you, which could change at any moment. It's true that life is unpredictable, and it’s also true that you have the power to remain yourself, with your heart open, through any challenge.

Each time you choose to challenge your tight grip on believing your reality to be a fixed experience, by kindly protesting your perception and whispering to yourself, “What meets the eye is not the truth,” you are establishing communication with the part of you that sees harmony in the chaos.

Your circumstances don’t have to dictate your internal world. Let’s look at how to strengthen your internal world’s ability to influence how you experience your outer circumstances.

Tend the Garden of Your Mind

From a spiritual perspective, think of your mind like a garden, filled with seeds—some dormant, others blooming. And everything that happens throughout the day and every interaction—from what you’re watching, listening to, feeling, believing, speaking—waters seeds in the garden of your mind.

As they grow, they blossom into your mental tendencies. Are they leading you into your heart, or further away into a reality of constant fear? Are you watering seeds that will grow more love, compassion, joy, and wisdom? Or are you watering seeds of more suffering?

The choices you make about how you spend your time have a massive effect on your perception of your experience. That’s why it is crucial that you are mindful of how you’re spending your time during these days when it may seem like you have more time than ever. Each and every little choice you make has an impact, and you might often forget this.

It’s time for you to become the master gardener of your mind, planting and nurturing seeds that will activate your heart. Tend the garden of your mind with love, cultivating that which will bear nurturing fruit, and relentlessly weeding out that which no longer serves you.

Change Your Mind

You may by default view challenges as bad because your mind is cluttered with conditioning that does not serve your highest vision. Your mind has been tricked, and it’s up to you to redirect its power to seek the truth.

What if you changed your belief that hard equates to bad? What might be possible if you reframed these challenges as opportunities for growth, and even found gratitude for them in your heart?

What’s healthier for your mind? The 24-hour news cycle, or 15 minutes of meditation? Curling up with a good book, or zoning out on reality TV? Journaling about your feelings, or mindlessly scrolling social media?

It's time to evaluate what you’re consuming, what you give your energy to, and take a spiritual inventory. It’s so easy to delude yourself into thinking comfort food and wine are self-care when, really, they’re just destructive habits you may clumsily rationalize. What if you push through your fear and make a radical choice to drop into your heart instead?

From a physiological perspective, neuroscientists have shown that people have the ability to rewire their brains. Ruminating on negative thoughts and complaining rewires it in destructive ways, whereas meditation and reframing negatives into positives can rewire it for growth. It’s another beautiful example of impermanence in action.

What is real is that your brain is stuck in a negativity loop. What is true is that you have the power to change your mind and redesign the architecture of your brain.

Embrace the Practice of Change

You can start small. Every small healthy effort adds up to a major positive impact on your mental experience. Each time you set a goal and achieve it (no matter how small) or overcome an unhealthy urge, you engage with your hope, optimism, and self-efficacy, which helps you exercise motivation, willpower, and the qualities of your heart. These small wins in your day are what psychologists call “pathways forward” because they inevitably lead toward growth. These successes will trigger the release of dopamine in your brain, which you experience as an aspect of the boundless joy that arises from the spiritual heart.

So set some small, manageable goals each day about how you spend your time and what you put into your mind—small, simple steps you know you can achieve—and you’ll be training your mind toward positivity and paving the path into communion with your heart every day, where joy can be your compass.

And don’t fall prey to the trick of your mind telling you this is your new reality. This is one moment in a lifetime of moments. A temporary experience.

Yes, you are in a very challenging time, but challenges were made to be overcome! Rise to the challenge by shifting your perspective, unshackling yourself from a victim mindset, and uncovering joy by living in your heart.

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