When I was a kid, I remember my mind being blown when I learned our skin was an organ. I knew the heart, the lungs, and the kidneys were organs, but I never knew the skin was an organ too!
I remember asking people, “Hey, do you know what’s the largest organ in the body?” My friends would start to compare the heart with the lungs and so on. When they’d give me or make a guess, I’d wow them with my powerful intellect. I’d say, “Aha! You’re wrong! The biggest organ is your skin!”
I really don’t know why I found this so fascinating. Maybe I thought it was weird we’d look past the obvious . . . something we literally saw every day and didn’t consider its true functionality.
I think we do the same thing with our minds.
We think all the time. Even when we’re sleeping, our minds are going. But most of the time we give very little thought to having a mind or what it’s actually doing. Like our skin, we are oblivious to how it holds us all together. Skin holds all our physical parts together and the mind contains all of our mental self. It right there is front of us all the time but we often don’t see it.
In today’s podcast we’re gonna talk about what we need to do to be mindful of our mind.
How Our Minds Work
We’re thinking all the time. Big thoughts, little thoughts . . . we’re thinking about something all the time. The more we have a certain thought the easier it is for us to have that thought again. It why you don’t have to remind yourself to brush your teeth or say thank you when someone holds the door for you. The thought and the consequent action is on auto pilot much of the time.
You probably also know most thoughts often elicits certain feelings, which you may or may not be aware of at the time. This is important because just like our thoughts . . . these feelings can happen on auto pilot as well.
If the thoughts are benign or helpful, there’s really no problem. But if they’re hurtful or just plain wrong, it can stick a pin in your happiness bubble!
This connection between thoughts and feelings and actions is happening all the time but we’re often not aware or truly present to this. We have thoughts and their connected feelings over and over and over. In many cases, we form an attachment or an emotional and physical dependency on the thoughts and feelings we have the most.
Put more simply . . . we get into a habit of certain thoughts and feelings . . . even if they hurt us! To change this requires an intentional effort on our part.
How To Remodel Your Mind
I like to think of our minds as a room.
It’s a room where we collect information and hang out all the time. Often it resembles a cocktail part with lots of different voices and conversations. It has a lot of “stuff” in there too . . . memories, old worn out opinions, etc. It’s cluttered with junk (at least I think a lot of the things in our minds is junk).
This is why you have to pay attention to the space between your ears as much as the much as your home or your office. Of course, your mind isn’t really between your ears. Your brain is but your mind is way bigger than that! Anyway—you have to take some of the very same actions and make changes you would in up-leveling an exterior space. Most of us must remodel our inner space! We must move old stuff out and deliberately bring new stuff in.
Let’s break this down just like you would if you were remodeling a room or your whole house. I’ve watched enough remodel shows in HGTV to give this a stab. Here is how I think it could go down.
Step 1: Experiencing Discomfort and Having a Desire
Something about the current situation is no longer working. It’s old and outdated. It doesn’t meet your current needs. It makes you unhappy in some way. Okay, this is true for our thoughts as well. You’re tired of looking in the mirror and beating yourself up for not getting more fit. You’re tired of being in abusive relationships over and over and over and you’re smart enough to know that it’s really about you in some way. You’re unhappy in your job. You can’t remember the last time you really had a good time. You don’t have any friendships that feel authentic and life affirming. You’re drinking, spending, eating, gossiping, complaining, sleeping, watching TV, too much!
Now, it’s not these things specifically that make you uncomfortable. It’s simultaneously doing these things while KNOWING they’re not good for you. That’s cognitive dissonance. Once this dissonance happens, we all typically want there to be harmony of some sort. At this point we have a choice, change something! So, step one is a combination of Desire AND discomfort that propels us to step two.
Step 2: Deciding to Remodel
I just spoke of cognitive dissonance. We don’t like to be in this tension yet we’re in it all the time. You would think that this tension would make us do the “right things”. But it really doesn’t. It can but often it doesn’t. Because we humans are great and figuring out a way to do what we really want to do no matter what. We shift our thinking to rationalize what we really want to do.
Once we feel the dissonance, we have to change something to return to a place of harmony. At this point, we have three choices: change our beliefs, change our actions or change how we view the actions. More times than not, we do what we can to NOT change. This requires denials, avoidance and making excuses. We decide on some level to stay the same.
But to really remodel a space requires a concrete decision to do things differently. Same thing with our mindset.
Example: You decide you’re going to make your health a priority. You’re going to manage thoughts and behaviors about money differently. You’re going to change how you interact with other people. The decision must come first because what comes next is hard.
Step 3: Determining Your Budget
Next you have to Determine Next step is the Budget: In a home remodel, you’ve got to consider the budget; how much can you spend to make the changes. How much money are you able to or willing to spend to have what we really want. In some cases, you have to weigh what it cost to not make the change. Some of those costs aren’t in money but in inconvenience, unhappiness, bickering among those that live in the space.
Same thing when you’re remodeling yourself. You have to consider what is making this shift going to cost you and what is the cost of staying the same? Costs comes in the form of time and money most of all. But there’s also a cost of letting go of the familiar.
You’ve seen the shows. She KNOWs those baggy sweatpants and long, outdated hairstyle is holding her back but she doesn’t want to give them up. The familiar is FAMILIAR and there’s a perceived cost of losing something she can’t get back.
Step 4: Hiring a Contractor
Next step is hiring a contractor: I highly recommend reaching out to others with expertise for any kind of remodel. Most of us aren’t smart enough to really do this kind of internal shifting without the help of something outside of ourselves. This can be as simple as reading books or listening to podcasts. Or hiring coaches like me.
with therapists or doing year -long programs. There are lots of ways to get help. But just like the weekend handywoman who isn’t not really set up to build her house from scratch all by herself, you’re most likely going to benefit greatly from getting some help.
Step 5: Demolition
Next comes the demolition. This is where things get broken down, torn up, removed. This is the messiest part of the process. Messy inside and emotionally. A lot of second guessing happens here. You went from mild discomfort at the beginning to acute discomfort! “What the hell have I done?” “Why am I digging up what happened to me years ago?” “I don’t want to see MY role in attracting unhealthy relationships.” “Yikes . . .do I really have a food addiction or a lazy streak or low self-esteem?” “Crap, can’t things go back to where they used to be?” “Can’t I just put everything back?”
Nope. No you can’t. You can’t put toothpaste back I the tube. You’ve got to shoulder on through the destruction and try to keep your eye on the prize.
Okay, you can make the same amount of effort to build the old walls back up again. But you can’t unknow what you now know. You’re never the same once you break down some walls. You might as well keep moving forward to where you really want to be rather than rebuild what was not working for you in the first place.
During demotion you have to make a lot of choices. In a home it may be colors or tile or where the window will be. In remodeling yourself it could be about people, and jobs and behaviors. You get to decide how you want it to be going forward. It can be scary and exhilarating. What does your ideal like look like? What would make your life more beautiful on the inside? You refer back to the plan you had at the very beginning, but you add modification based on what has emerged doing the process.
Step 6: Living in the New Space
Lastly, you live into it. On the remodel shows, they do the big reveal where the homeowners walk in and ooh and ahh. The hosts have decorated the space and it looks beautiful. But its not filled with the owner’s stuff. The space has been modified but it has not been lived in. This last step is living with your new and emerging mindsets and behaviors. Living in the knowing that it’s a process to keep this new space lean and functioning and beautiful. It requires commitment and tune-ups and recalculations to make it just right.
It’s never really done. A beautiful life is always in process. A healthy mind is always in process because things are always changing. I lost 30 pounds. Yea me! Only to substitute frustration about those pounds to frustration about saggy skin. Some part of me loves being critical of my body.
Minds and mindsets require a lot of vigilance, so they don’t run us off the road. I have to continue to work on my mindset and thinking so that my day to day has more happy and less crappy. And so will you. But it’s worth it.
Is your mind and heart space outdated, uncomfortable, pinchy, or unpleasant? Do you want a spacious, airy, lovely internal space? Maybe it’s time to declutter, do some demolition and do a remodel of the mind.
This connection between thoughts and feelings and actions is happening all the time but most of us are not aware or truly present to this most of the time. We have thoughts and their connected feelings over and over and over. When this happens, we form an attachment or an emotional and physical dependency to the thoughts and feelings you have the most.
I explain what happens when we have repetitive negative thoughts in this except from my book BOOM Thinking: The Gutsy Guide to Breaking Out of Old Mindsets:
“When we stay in a constant state of feeling victimized for instance, our cells sprout a ravenous covering of receptors craving the very specific proteins our body creates while in a state of low self-esteem. If and when we realize this is not an emotional state we wish to perpetuate, we not only have to change our external environment that’s triggering that emotion – we have to change our cellular environment by shifting our response to that external stimulus. In other words, we must change the meaning we’re giving to that thing or things that sabotaged our self-esteem in the first place.”
Put more simply . . . we all get into a habit of certain thoughts and feelings . . . even if they hurt us! To change this requires an intentional effort on your part. (See why I call my work Intentional Spaces?)
How To Remodel Your Mind
I like to think of our minds as a room. In my mind it often resembles a cocktail part with lots of different voices and opinions. It's a room where we collect lots of “stuff”: memories, old worn out opinions, faded dreams, etc. It’s cluttered with junk (at least I think a lot of the things in our minds are junk).
This is why we have to pay attention to this space just as much as our home or office. We have to take some of the very same actions and make some similar changes we would make if we were up-leveling an exterior space. We have to remodel our inner space!
We gotta move old stuff out and deliberately bring new stuff in. We've gotta de-clutter, beautify, rearrange and remodel our mind. . . with intention.
Wanna read more about how to do this?
Want some help from yours truly? Click here and let’s get started!