Why Mindset work needs to EVOLVE.
Updated: Apr 26
“Be kind. The world can be tough some days. And any small gesture helps”.
Living in our modern world is tough somedays! So don’t let any ‘newly-minted’ mindset coach tell you it’s ‘all in your head’.
Yes — we do have the ability to change and enhance how we perceive the world.
AND…. yes, we ALSO have some real challenges to face.
So using positive mindset alone to gloss over the difficulties of our existence is really just another form of bypassing (not facing) the real struggles that do exist. And quite frankly to me, indicates that there’s still deeper work to be done by the person relying on it, to sustainably, physiologically change their ‘inner world’.
The real issue
If you’re a mindset coach reading this, please understand that I personally don’t see you as being at fault. And I sense in many of you, that your service intent is genuine.
However, mindset education is still evolving to catch up with what we now know about the brain in 2023. Positive psychology is being upgraded to mental contrasting and is seeing much greater success in goal achievement. So, many mindset students are still being taught what was taught 30 years ago. And we humans…well, we only know what we’ve been taught, until we learn more. So if that possibly speaks to you in any way, my only request is that you diversify your education and learn more comprehensively on your own.
Going Beyond Positive Mindset as a cure-all
One of the benefits of UP-leveling and doing the harder work to develop and refine your emotional state…is that your need to ‘avoid’ discomfort will decrease.
Moderate and differentiated emotional activation is tolerable, doesn’t happen often and is short-lived when it does.
We only develop coping skills when emotional activation is prolonged, frequent or intense. So once your body adopts emotional ‘center’ as it’s default, you’ll be able to roll with discomfort… as readily as you roll with ease.
Said differently, when your default emotional range is centered and only gets activated at moderate intensities on relevant occasion and passes quickly….there’s nothing you need to ‘cope’ with. See what I’m getting at? Always focusing on our strengths and the 'positive' isn't necessary when our imperfections are accepted and challenges don't throw us off our emotional base.
In other words, mindset as one tool can be a form of flexible thinking. And it can be quite helpful in the overall process of self-development. However…. relying on ‘positive mindset’ as your sole source of ‘recovery’ or as a way of dealing with reality… is simply a coping mechanism by a different color.
So, why is relying on positivity a problem?
First, because it's not a comprehensive reflection of the real world. And more importantly, in our effort to shield ourselves from the natural discomfort of our own emotional experience, we end up denying another person’s reality, which is polarizing and does nothing to support sustainable change. Sustainable change requires ….unification. And unification relies on connection that's born from sharing or relating to the complete human experience.
Now I’m not saying we have to fall into a sullen, problem-oriented view of the world either. There’s a lot of positive, terrific stuff happening out there! And focusing a larger percent of your time on that is helpful in keeping us moving forward.
But the reality of our existence is that humans do experience both struggle and ease, both pain and comfort, both challenge and success. It’s part of our physiology. It’s the ‘how much’, ‘how often’ and for ‘how long’ aspects of either experience, as well as the quality and diversity of our sources, that makes a difference in our life experience.
Plus… I’ll let you in on a little secret about YOUR BRAIN.
We each have a critical brain area that THRIVES and STRENGTHENS on this interesting, diverse combination of experience. One the brain’s most important functions is to resolve ‘conflict’ or anything that is new, different or unexpected. This feature helps us make decisions. But to activate and stay strong, it needs contrasting experiences to decide about. If everything is viewed as positive and hunky-dory all the time? No real decisions are needed. And this area gets weak from lack of use. When an unexpected challenge comes up in our life? Decisions are needed. And this brain area gets a workout.
So said another way, this brain area requires a mix of both struggle and ease, both challenge and relief, both familiar and different to stay strong. So don’t weaken your brain by mentally avoiding challenge and discomfort! Mental contrasting is actually supported by research to be more effective in achieving your goals.
So as you go about your day, think of one small way to be kind to someone who may be struggling. We can never really tell where they are in that ‘mix’. And although kindness may not alleviate their discomfort, it lets them know that when they do get through it….there’s ALSO something ‘good’ waiting for them on the other side.
The Human Infusion Project is a philanthropic, personal development platform that draws from the combined fields of modern brain science, applied psychology and spiritual philosophy. Our mission aims to augment and supplement the work of professional practitioners in simplified, practical and affordable ways. 100% of all online class profit funds the Wellness Assistance Grant.