How to Upgrade Your Mindset
This is a long one, so brace yourself, honey!
Upgrading your mindset is no simple task. But if you are serious about upgrading your life, this is where you have to start. Your mindset affects every area of your life and greatly affects how you perceive the world. Your mindset affects the decisions you make, the goals you have, and how you go about achieving those goals.
In my post about how to upgrade your life, I shared that if you can upgrade your mindset, you would have done at least 60% of the work. The journey to upgrading your life begins with mindset but it will not be easy because upgrading your mindset means you will have to challenge everything you thought you knew and everything you believed.
Okay Lis, I get it. Mindset is important. I’m serious about upgrading my life, so where do I start? How do I upgrade my mindset?
1. Remove personal and metal blocks
Sadly, removing personal and mental blocks is not as easy as it sounds. The reason is that these are belief systems that have been etched into our subconscious through years of experience.
This comes from direct and indirect experiences. From watching others around us interact with the world. Even from what we absorb through the media: music, tv, etc. We are creatures of habit and we are social creatures. So it’s natural that we learn through socialization – which is not only in the home.
Most of the time, in my experience, mindset blocks are coping mechanisms designed to protect us. But what usually happens is that they limit us.
As I write this, I remember when I was younger; I used to genuinely believe that rich people stayed rich and that poor people stayed poor. I used to believe that rich people try to keep poor people poor. I also used to believe that there were certain places that only rich people may go to.
That was the mindset I grew up with and it was one of the biggest mindset changes I’ve made on this growth journey. I challenged what I thought was reality, and that has allowed me to grow in ways I never thought possible. To experience things – go places – that a younger version of myself thought was out of my reach.
It is not just a snap of the finger that creates such a mindset shift, though. It is a habit. You have to get into the habit of not accepting mediocrity. Get into the habit of not accepting that your circumstances are fixed. You have to get into the habit of defying the “destiny” that was laid out for you and realise that you can – and do – control your own destiny.
A gentleman once visited an elephant farm and saw these towering elephants being “held in place” by a tiny rope. They were more than capable of breaking the rope and running free, but they just stood there. When he asked the trainer why they stayed, the trainer told him that a rope that size was used to hold them as babies. So after a while, they accepted that the rope was stronger than them. If they were to ever challenge that belief, the trainer would lose all his elephants.
As you upgrade your mindset, ask yourself: what’s your rope? What’s holding you back? What mindset block do you need to shift?
2. Change your negative self talk
I would be lying to you if I told you I didn’t struggle with this. We all do, actually.
Do you know why? We are our worst critics. We hold ourselves to higher standards than anyone else, and when those standards aren’t met, we are disappointed in ourselves. Queue the self scolding.
Unfortunately, over time, the brain accepts all the negative self talk we’ve fed it over the years and starts to “protect you” from messing up so badly that you’ll need to scold yourself.
Your brain starts “reminding you” that you are not good enough and that you can’t do it, or that you’ll most likely fail.
You need to normalize a higher standard of living, but in order to get there you have to recondition your mind to believing that you can actually have it all. That you can have the life you want. That you can actually achieve your dreams of abundance and affluence. Most importantly, that you are worthy.
We have to become our own cheerleading squad. Cheer yourself on more than anyone else because there will be times when there is no one else to cheer you on. There will be times when people around you will try to convince you that your goals are too ambitious. So if you cannot cheer yourself on, you will become susceptible to other’s belief over your life.
I was a teen mom and where I grew up, that meant my life was over. That apparently I was throwing away my life. Or even that I was “wukliss”. That’s patois for “worthless”. I was a failure, I was a disappointment, and I wasn’t gonna make anything good of my life.
And for a time, I believed that. I would actually tell myself that it is true. Do you know what that meant? It meant I accepted that I was gonna be poor and struggling to make ends meet for the rest of my life.
This changed for me one night when my son was still very young and he was out of diapers. I had no money and no way to get diapers for him. I remember that with tears in my eyes I made a vow to him: I would never let him remember this day because I will do everything in my power to make sure his life was easier than mine. I also made a conviction that if something wasn’t in my power, I would learn how to make it my power.
That was the beginning of me changing my negative self talk. I planted a simple seed of “no Lis, you can do it” and that has grown into so many wonderful ways to see myself.
The way you talk about yourself becomes your reality. So if you want to upgrade your mindset, if you want to change your life permanently, start by changing your self-talk.
Instead of “oh my God! I suck at this” change it to “I’m not the best at this…yet.” Instead of “I’m always late” change it to “I’m gonna be early next time.” Instead of looking in the mirror and asking yourself “why are you always so negative?” Change it to “I’m gonna focus on being more positive”.
3. Change your circle. Surround yourself with people who support the mindset you are trying to foster.
I know many people will cringe at this one, but changing your circle is just as important as changing your self-talk and removing personal and mental blocks.
There are two old sayings I used to hear growing up “show me your company and I’ll tell you who you are” and “birds of a feather flock together”. When I was younger, I didn’t believe there was any truth to that because I was clearly different from my “friends”. But as I got older and began my self-improvement journey, I began to see the wisdom in those two sayings.
I mentioned before that we are social creatures, so the people in our circle do influence us. No one wants to be the nail that sticks out and gets hammered in, so we subconsciously adjust ourselves with time to “fit in” with our circle.
The truth of the matter is, though, that you have to surround yourself with people who are of the mindset you are trying to foster. If you want to elevate yourself, connect with people who are in the elevated position you are trying to reach.
Misery loves company and if the people you spend all your time with are miserable people, you eventually become that. To upgrade your mindset, you need to limit your interactions with negative people.
This means that you will have to let some friendship, relationships and even family relationships go. Which can be painful, but it is a necessary part of the journey.
They say you are the sum of the five closest people to you. You are the sum of the five people you spend most of your time with. Reflect on yourself and your journey so you may see if your circle inspires or holds you back.
Change your circle, upgrade your mindset
A shark in a fish tank will grow to be only about 8 inches long. But if you put that same shark in the ocean, he grows to be about 8 feet long! 8 freaking feet long!!
A shark will not outgrow his environment, and the same can be said for you, too. Many times, the reason we don’t grow is that we are surrounded by small thinning people. You are seeking growth advice from people who have stopped growing. You are seeking financial advice from people who are not living or working towards the kind of life you want to live.
Surround yourself with people who are where you want to go or are at least working on getting to that place. If you ask a poor person for financial advice, he will give you advice that will, in turn, keep you poor. If you follow the advice, that is.
The advice isn’t poor because the poor man has a vendetta to keep you poor with him and it’s not because the poor man is inherently a bad person. He will give you a poor man’s advice because he is a poor man, and that’s all the experience he has.
The advice people give you is limited to their experiences and outlook on life. So ensure that you are surrounding yourself with people who share a similar mindset to the one you are trying to foster.
They don’t need to think like you or agree with everything you say, but if you want to be a more open-minded person, you have to surround yourself with other open-minded individuals. If you want to become wealthy, network with wealthy people. If you want to have a more positive outlook on life, surround yourself with with more positive people. Change your circle, upgrade your mindset.
4. Develop new habits.
If you want to upgrade your mindset, you need to develop new habits and hobbies that further support the changed mindset. For example, reading.
What you are essentially trying to do is to rewrite your way of thinking. You are unsatisfied with the way your life is right now and the results you’ve been getting up to this point. And that’s perfectly fine. People reinvent themselves all the time.
In order for change to be permanent, you cannot change only one thing. If you seriously want to upgrade your mindset to be a better person and ultimately have a better life, then you also have to change your habits. Start building habits that support the new mindset you are trying to foster.
What I did…
When I began working on myself, this was something I really worked on. I tried to foster good habits like reading more and watching less tv. I didn’t set an arbitrary rule to say I needed to read for 1 hour a day. That would have been unrealistic for me in the beginning.
Daily reading wasn’t something that came naturally to me. So for me, just reading a few pages of a book each day felt like an accomplishment. Before I knew it, I was spending more time reading.
I stopped listening to negative news, following celebrity gossip or any form of drama. I realized that whatever was happening in some celebrity’s life had nothing to do with me. It didn’t affect me in one way or another. Therefore, following it up was wasting my time, and limiting my ability to focus on myself.
I was also careful about the content I chose to read. So no more of those magazines and blogs that define the beauty industry holding women to unrealistic standards and giving crappy dating advice. You know the ones I’m talking about.
And even though I would still watch tv, I tried to watch more positive content like investment shows, motivational programs and shows where people shared their growth journey. I still watched sitcoms, cartoons and shows for entertainment, but I tried to keep it positive as much as possible.
These are only a couple of examples and I don’t say them to say they are the end all be all. You can apply the concept to other good habits, too.
Go to bed at a set time every day and wake up early, or at least at the same time every morning, to ensure you get enough rest. Exercise more often. 10 minutes a day is better than not at all. Eat more healthy foods. You don’t have to become a full on vegan if that’s too intense for you. Just incorporate more healthy foods into your life.
Cut out or reduce your alcohol consumption. Your liver and skin will thank you for it. Don’t allow yourself to get drunk because that puts your safety in someone else’s hands instead of your own. Remember, you are the only person you can control.
No drugs. Like at all. Try your hardest not to partake in negative talk, gossip or complaining. Practice mindfulness. Practice gratitude – there’s always something to be grateful for, no matter how insignificant it seems. Self reflect often. Become self-aware.
Think of your mindset as a garden and think of your habits as the plants you put in the garden. You have to weed out the thistles so they don’t strangle the plants you are trying to grow. You also have to water the garden and fertilize it so it can grow healthily.
Bad habits equals bad, negative and limiting mindset. Good habits equals room for a more positive mindset. Room for a growth mindset to take root.
5. Take chances
Liline from unitedcuties.com talks about stepping outside of your comfort zone and taking risks. Read it here.
Do not be afraid of failure. Taking chances builds your confidence. Remember, this is all about rewiring your mindset and the way you think. What better to work on that the way you see yourself?
The way we view ourselves affects how we view life. So if you work on creating a positive self image, your image of the world will also change.
I often see the question “what can I do to create a positive self image?” “How do I build self-confidence?”. And as someone who has struggled with this for most of her life, I can tell you for a fact that the number one way to build self-confidence and build a positive self image is by challenging yourself. Doing things YOU thought you couldn’t do.
Every time you hear the little voice of self-doubt in your head say “you can’t do that”, DO IT.
Take chances to prove to yourself that you can rely on you. Prove to yourself that you’ve got your back. You’ve got to prove to yourself that you are capable.
The more you do that, the more you will trust yourself. The more you trust yourself, the more self-confidence you will have. The more self-confidence you have, the more self-love you’ll have. And once you have those things in place, you will look at the world in a more positive light.
Liline talks about taking risks and stepping out of your comfort zone on her blog. Click here to read the article.
When I started my journey to self-discovery, besides working on mindset, self-love, self-worth and all those other things, I used to dare myself. Every time I felt fear about doing something, I would do it anyway.
Fear of living alone: rented a place.
Fear of rejection from a company: applied for the job anyway.
Fear of failing the interview: showed up early.
Fear of making new friends: walked up to a random person and started a conversation.
If you wanted to know what my next move was, you could literally ask what is Alicia afraid of and bet your ass off, that’s what I was gonna do. I also made it my mantra that if someone told me I couldn’t do something, I would do it to the best of my abilities just to prove to myself that I can.
Naturally, I still struggled with self doubt from time to time, and there were many failures where my “rebellious” nature – for lack of a better word – proved to be more of a liability.
But there were so many wins. The more wins I got, the more I believed in myself. The more I believed in myself, the more I trusted that I was in charge of my life. That I am the driver. So it didn’t matter what someone else did. All that mattered was what I did. What I could do. What I would do. What I will do.
That’s why after I had my first son and everyone told me that I wasn’t gonna amount to anything and my life was basically over because I was a single teen mom abandoned by her baby daddy, I went into overdrive. Not just to prove everyone wrong, but to prove myself right. And I am proud to say I did.
I wasn’t willing to let everyone else be right about me, so I worked on changing my mindset and I took chances. I dared myself. I stepped outside of my prescribed destiny. I made something of myself. I literally, not to be boastful here, but I literally, achieved every single goal I set for myself back then. Now I create new goals with the determination to achieve them.
So if you want to foster a growth mindset. If you want to upgrade your mindset. If you want to foster a more positive mindset. If you want to foster a mindset that you can achieve anything you want in life – as long as it’s ethical and something that doesn’t damage your integrity – take more chances.
Dare yourself. Fail and do it again. Because the truth is, there are no failures in life. There are only lessons to learn.
6. Stop comparing yourself to others.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t compare yourself to others. DON’T. COMPARE. YOURSELF. TO. OTHERS. Be inspired but don’t compare. I can’t say that enough.
It is so easy to compare yourself and your life to others.
Look. We are social creatures, so it is completely natural for us to look at others for inspiration. It is natural for some, most of or maybe all of our goals to be influenced by what we’ve seen in others. There’s nothing wrong with that. We are supposed to get inspiration from others.
It becomes a problem when you chronically compare yourself to others.
That one friend you have who seems to have her shit together, and she just seems so confident and like she has it all? First of all, you have no idea what goes on behind closed doors. You see the representation of her that she puts out in the world. Second of all, you do not know how far along she is in her journey. How many years she’s put into crafting the version of her you see now.
When you compare yourself to others, you measure up your successes or lack thereof to others. That takes focus away from what you need to be doing. Focusing on your own growth.
There is a stark difference between saying “I wanna be like her”, or “I’m aspiring to be like her”, and saying “I wish my life was like hers.”
One tells your mind that it is possible for you to achieve that goal, and the other tells your mind that you can’t do it. The result? Self pity, and that is never good.
I used to compare myself to others a lot. My mom. Friends in college. Co-workers. Friends. Random youtubers for f*ck sake! I’ve never even met these people and here I am comparing myself to them. WTF?
Naturally, this would always lead to me feeling less than accomplished. Here comes the pity party. “I can’t believe I’m X years old and I haven’t accomplished Y”. “I can’t believe I’m X years old and I have done nothing with my life“.
Ps…not true. But because I was focusing on what someone else had been doing with their life, it took away from my ability to appreciate my own journey.
When I shifted my focus and started focusing on myself, my world changed. I became freer. I started enjoying my growth journey. I started feeling proud of myself and my accomplishments. Being able to appreciate your journey is such a confidence booster! At least it was for me.
Seriously, sis. If you really want to upgrade your mindset, stop measuring yourself using someone else’s ruler. Stop expecting your chapter 1 to look like someone else’s chapter 10.
The fact of the matter is, we are all different. Our journey is unique. Our paths are all different. We might share some similarities in terms of goals, but when and how we achieve those goals might just be different and that’s fine as long as you are working on accomplishing your goals.
Quit comparing yourself, your goals, your progress, your achievements with others. Your journey is exactly that: YOUR journey.
7. Self reflect often
Self-reflection creates self-awareness. This will be painful at first because sometimes self-reflection can mean accepting the possibility that you might be the toxic one in the relationship.
Self-reflection means accepting that you are partly responsible for where you are in life right now. Self-reflecting means accepting that even if your life is crap right now, you could have done something about it, but you didn’t. You could have made different choices, which would have led to different outcomes. Self reflecting means being brutally honest with yourself. This, I can tell you from experience, is not an effortless task.
The beauty about self-reflecting, though, is that it gives you the power to change things. Now that you’ve accepted that you can do things differently, I’m hoping you will.
From personal experience…
I started developing the habit of self-reflecting for the first time in my early to mid-twenties. I had no self-esteem back then, and I was very unsatisfied with my life in general.
Self-reflecting gave me the ability to see that I was making the same choices over and over, just in different capacities. It made me realize that I had a lot of self-sabotaging habits that were holding me back. It made me realize that I did, in fact, have a lot of toxic habits that I developed as coping mechanisms over the years.
Most importantly, it made me realize that if I wanted my life to change; I had to stop waiting for someone to do it for me and just start changing things myself.
It made me realize I needed to upgrade my mindset.
I remember when I left college and started job hunting. For the life of me, I could not land a job. I sent out so many resumes I lost count. Couldn’t get a single interview. Naturally, this made me feel distraught. Worthless, actually. I was a single mom with a kid to feed and I can’t even find a damn job? WTF? I felt like a complete waste of space.
Through upgrading my mindset, I realized I was doing something wrong. My resume sucked. The format in which I sent them was uninteresting. I was dropping resumes off at the gate of some of the business places. I never followed up. My address was a deep rural one, so naturally employers would think I might be unreliable. Since where I’m from, deep rural communities usually have unreliable public transportation.
Of course, it’s “unfair” for the employers to not give someone a chance based on something they had no control over. But guess what? Through self-reflection, I realized that I did have control. I could change the address on my resume. I could move, for crying out loud! And I did. Both. Shortly thereafter, I got my first job out of college.
The moral of the story…
Self-reflection isn’t easy. It’s actually the most troublesome part of upgrading your mindset, the way you think, and the way you view and approach life.
But without it, you are doomed to making the same mistakes over and over. That means you will keep getting the same results over and over.
It is a sad paradox because you will eventually start believing the reality created by your lack of self-reflection. And although you genuinely want change, you won’t make the change because you’ve neglected to self-reflect.
Remember that the entire purpose of self-reflection is for you to see what YOU could have done differently. Since you can’t control people, control what you can. Yourself. Your choices. Your actions. Your way of thinking. Your approach to life.
8. Accept responsibility for your actions.
Here’s the deal: if you really want to upgrade your mindset, you’ve gotta understand that you can’t control others, but you can control yourself.
This one was a really big game changer for me. It took me a while to master this, but once I did, my life completely changed. The way I viewed life completely changed.
I have never been, nor will I ever be, someone who believes in the victimhood mindset. I strongly believe that no matter the hand you were dealt, no matter how bad your start in life, you can carve out the life you want. You can live the life of your dreams. And while you might face some unfair situations in life, you can come out a victor. Not a victim.
However, this mindset and way of thinking weren’t always a part of me. It took a while to cultivate that because I wasn’t exactly the most honest with myself about how my actions resulted in certain realities manifesting.
For example, I would show up late to a job interview and be mad at the interviewer for not hiring me on the grounds of being late. Sure, I had a good reason for being late, but that “reason” became a crutch. An excuse.
Accepting responsibility for my actions meant I would accept that my reason for being late didn’t matter. The fact is that I was late. Then acceptance empowered me to put in extra effort to make sure that I was early for my next job interview. Get up before the sun. Arrange transportation from the day before. Whatever was needed to ensure that I made it to the next interview early. Not on time. Early.
This pattern would happen in many areas of my life, but when I learned to accept my part in things, my life started changing for the better. Accepting responsibility for your actions means accepting that you can’t control others, but you can control yourself. That doesn’t mean the other person is blameless. It just means that you can identify what you can control.
When you do not accept responsibility for your actions, you become a passenger in your own life. You become a victim of your circumstances. You become someone that life happens to. You give away your power. That is power you need in order to craft the life you want.
When you don’t achieve desired results in life or when bad things happen, you must first self reflect to see what you could have done differently. We must avoid negative self-talk and do not beat yourself up.
Then you must accept that we could have done things differently. Only then will you become the driver of your life. Only then will you be victor over your circumstances. Only then will you be able to live intentionally.
Mindset is everything. It affects how we perceive life. It affects the decisions we make. It affects the goals we set and whether or not we achieve them. It affects even the type of relationships we form. If you want to upgrade your life you must first work on your mindset. You must upgrade your mindset Everything else will fall into place once you cultivate the right mindset.
An oak tree can grow to be 100 feet tall, but if you plant it in a pot, it will never grow that tall. It will only grow to be a few feet because it has accepted that this is how far it can grow.
If you have a poor mindset, you will accept mediocrity from everything and everyone in your life. You will give away your power to change your life, your power to live the life you want, and your ability to live intentionally.
I wasn’t always the woman I am today. I wasn’t always the proverbial strong, independent black woman. In fact, I was quite broken. As a victim of child abuse, my self esteem and self worth were completely shattered. I hated my life so much that I attempted and failed suicide twice.
I am also from very humble beginnings, which is just an acceptable way of saying I grew up poor.
Upgrading my mindset upgraded my life. To earn more money than I thought was possible for me, to form a healthy relationship with my fiance and kids, to develop self-confidence, a strong self-esteem and sense of self-worth. Upgrading my mindset allowed me to let go of toxic relationships, toxic behaviours, and most importantly, upgrading my mindset, allowed me to find what being truly happy feels like.
I hope these are useful for you. Save this post and share it on your socials if you think it will be helpful to other women looking to upgrade their mindset and life. As always, let me know what your thoughts are in the comments.