One of the fundamental tenets of mastering the right mindset is that your thoughts create your world.
What you focus on you experience, in other words.
What you give your attention to becomes your conscious reality.
But what happens when you focus on the wrong things? What happens when your thoughts are unfocused or negative?
You get trapped in The Flea Circus.
The Flea Cirus
People get trapped in bad habits and cycles of failure—what I call ‘The Flea Circus‘—because they believe they are limited.
They turn their world into a flea circus through their negative thoughts and self-limiting beliefs.
The flea circus isn’t something you buy a ticket for and enter into, it’s something you create. You build your own circus with your own thoughts.
Believe it or not, you are the star of your own show, the ringmaster of your own personal circus.
You get trapped in your own world of thoughts and beliefs, creating a circus of limitation, frustration, unhappiness, and futility.
But the good news is, you can escape your own creation. You can escape your personal flea circus.
This you do through the only way out available to you—your consciousness.
From Negative to Positive
You cannot experience anything without first being conscious of it.
Without consciousness, you cannot experience anything at all. That means nothing. Not a single thing.
Consciousness is the means by which you experience life. Therefore, the answer to changing your experience from ineffectiveness to effectiveness is through your consciousness.
I remember a day in the early 90s when this realisation hit me like a cold slap. I was in my mid-20s and was walking with a friend in London through the back streets from Earls Court to South Kensington.
It was a beautiful spring day, but I barely noticed it. I was lost in negative thoughts and complaining non-stop to my friend how bad my life situation was. Women didn’t like me. I couldn’t find a girlfriend. I wasn’t very attractive. I was running out of money. I didn’t like my job. The list went on and on and on.
Suddenly, my friend stopped in his tracks. He had had enough of my constant complaining and moaning.
“You know what, Scott?” he said. “You are the most negative person on the planet!”
I too stopped in my tracks. The most negative person on the planet! Me? How was that possible? He was joking, right?
But, no, he wasn’t joking. My friend was speaking the truth, and it hurt. I was at a loss for words.
I just stood there, mouth ajar, as if he had just dumped a whole cooler bin of ice on top of my head.
As painful as it was to hear, I knew in my heart that I was an extremely negative person. I did complain a lot. I did moan a lot.
I did think that my life was a misery and that others had it far better than me. I did feel as though life was pretty unfair, and that I had been dealt a bad set of cards.
It was obvious that in that moment I had been brought to a crossroad. A decision had to be made. A decision that could no longer be ignored.
Remain the same and continue the way things were—unhappy, miserable, frustrated, downbeat, lonely—or change and do things differently?
But I couldn’t remain the same. I simply couldn’t. Things needed to change for the better, and they needed to change quickly. I knew there really was no other choice.
I also knew that if I wanted my life to change, I had to change. I had to change the way I viewed the world. I had to change the way I viewed myself.
I had to change the way I viewed my interaction with the world.
I knew too that only I could change the things I wanted changing. I knew that only I could change my world, and I knew that in order to do so I had to be that change myself.
I had to change my perception—my perspective—and the only feasible way to do that was to change where that perspective happens—the focus of my attention, my conscious awareness.
On that beautiful spring day somewhere between Earls Court and South Kensington, I made a vow to become the most positive person on the planet!
Did the metamorphosis into Mr. Positive happen overnight? Of course not.
But what did happen was my instant awareness of my own negative thought patterns, which then made me aware of my negative emotional patterns, which then made me aware of my negative speech patterns, which then made me aware of my negative behavioural patterns. It was the beginning of change.
Negative or self-limiting thoughts are extremely common, probably a lot more common than you would think. In fact, it’s mind-boggling how prevalent negative thinking is.
I once made a calculation on how many negative words the average person says to himself or herself in an average year.
I based it on the amount of thoughts psychologists have estimated that go through a person’s mind on a daily basis, coupled with the estimate that of those thoughts, 80% are negative.
The results were staggering:
The average person has 3-17 million negative thoughts per year.
That’s astounding. But then I multiplied that figure by the average lifetime of 80 years and arrived at this unbelievable conclusion: as a species, we humans have 240-1,360 million negative thoughts per person, per lifetime (and yes, that’s 1.36 billion at the top end).
I sat back in shock. But then I considered the opposite of this and what it could mean.
Just imagine, I thought, the person who has 1.36 billion positive thoughts in their lifetime.
Imagine what they could achieve. Imagine the power of good they could do for others and their community.
Imagine the paradise they could create for the world.
Imagine if it were you.
Consequences of Negative Thinking
The problem with continuous negative thinking is the damaging influence it has in all areas of your life, from self-doubt in your professional work to guilt in accepting blame for external factors beyond your control.
The impact is magnified if negative self-talk is allowed to dominate your consciousness over the entirety of your life.
Recognising the patterns of negative thinking through self-awareness is the first step in addressing and reframing these thoughts and beliefs to promote a more positive and constructive mindset.
Here are some common ineffective or self-limiting thought processing that often run through our minds:
-> Self-Doubt: Questioning your abilities and fearing that you’re not good enough.
-> Catastrophising: Expecting the worst-case scenario in every situation.
-> All-or-Nothing Thinking: Believing that if you can’t do something perfectly, it’s not worth doing at all.
-> Overgeneralisation: Drawing broad, negative conclusions from a single negative event.
-> Self-Criticism: Engaging in harsh self-criticism and negative internal dialogue.
-> Mind Reading: Assuming you know what others are thinking, usually assuming they are making negative judgements about you.
-> Personalisation: Taking responsibility for things outside your control or blaming yourself for events unrelated to you.
-> Should Statements: Setting rigid and unrealistic expectations for yourself and others.
-> Filtering: Focusing solely on the negative aspects of a situation and ignoring the positive.
-> Discounting the Positive (Imposter Syndrome): Minimising or dismissing your achievements and positive qualities.
The below list is a summary of some common negative self-talk that arise from ineffective thought processing.
-> Self-Doubt: I’ll never be able to succeed in this new job. I don’t have the skills or experience.
-> Catastrophising: If I don’t ace this presentation, my entire career will be ruined.
-> All-or-Nothing: If I can’t commit to working out for an hour every day, there’s no point in even trying to get in shape.
-> Overgeneralisation: I messed up that report, so I’m terrible at my job and always will be.
-> Self-Criticism: I’m such a failure. I can’t do anything right, and I’ll never be successful.
-> Mind Reading: I just know my coworkers are talking behind my back and criticising my work.
-> Personalisation: It’s my fault that the project failed. I should have done more to prevent it.
-> Should Statements: I should be working late every night to prove my dedication to the company.
-> Filtering: Despite all the praise I received for my presentation, I can’t stop thinking about the one person who didn’t seem impressed.
-> Discounting the Positive (Imposter Syndrome): Sure, I got a promotion, but it was probably just luck. I’m not really that capable.
Benefits of Effective Thinking
I have witnessed the life-changing benefits of addressing and reframing negative and self-limiting thoughts from a personal perspective as well as witnessing the amazing transformation of clients who have embraced the process of conscious mindshift.
Of course, your capability and capacity are important factors in your personal and professional effectiveness, but mindset is critical.
If you were to choose just one thing to focus on, I would advise you to focus on your mindset.
Without the right mindset, your effectiveness is near zero, no matter how capable you are or how much capacity you have.
I would go so far as to say that mindset is responsible for 80% of your effectiveness, and your capability and capacity are responsible for the remaining 20% of your effectiveness.
Which is why it’s important to get your mindset right.
Your mindset is the Swiss army knife of personal growth and emotional well-being, the very tool you need to carry everywhere you go to navigate challenges, build resilience, and approach life with a more positive and constructive outlook.
That is, to be effective.
The Right Mindset
Here are some ways that having the right mindset empowers you:
- Resilience and Adaptability
- Focus on Strengths
- Healthier Relationships
- Greater Confidence
#1: Resilience and Adaptability
A positive and constructive mindset bolsters your resilience in the face of challenges.
Instead of succumbing to negative thought patterns, you develop the ability to adapt and bounce back from setbacks.
You view obstacles as opportunities for growth and learning, enhancing your overall capacity to navigate life’s ups and downs.
#2: Focus on Strengths
The right mindset encourages you to focus on your strengths rather than dwelling on your perceived weaknesses.
It leads to a greater awareness and realistic assessment of your skillset and capabilities.
By acknowledging and capitalising on your strengths, you amplify your personal and professional effectiveness.
#3: Healthier Relationships
Cultivating the right mindset promotes healthier relationships.
When you no longer engage in self-limiting thought patterns, you can approach interactions with authenticity and emotional intelligence.
This promotes more meaningful and positive connections with others, improving your personal and professional relationships.
#4: Greater Confidence
A positive and constructive mindset instills confidence.
You’re more willing to take calculated risks and pursue opportunities, knowing that setbacks are part of the journey to success.
This newfound confidence empowers you to excel in your professional life and take on personal challenges with optimism and enthusiasm.
- What you give your attention to becomes your conscious reality.
- The average person has 3-17 million negative thoughts per year, and 1.36 billion in a lifetime.
- Imagine the person who has 1.36 billion positive thoughts in their lifetime.
- Your mindset is the Swiss army knife of growth and emotional well-being.