Three things that will make your new years resolutions successful

Three things that will make your new years resolutions successful

You can make your new years resolutions successful by doing three easy things. If you set resolutions now or at another time of the year, chances are you want to succeed at achieving them. Yet sometimes things get in the way which means you don’t, despite well-meaning efforts you made. This happens a lot. It has happened to me.

I want to share these three things as it’s not any kind of secret, but I notice a lot of people often don’t follow them. They’re important as it’s about laying the foundation for a resolution which will help you get what you want for yourself and your life this year.

Note: For some people the word ‘resolution’ really grates. Use the word that works for you. Goal. Objective. Intention. Possibility. Something else. I’m going to use the word resolution. Also, some people don’t set resolutions at New Year’s. That’s fine. What I write here applies at any time of the year.

Here are the three easy things to do to make your new year’s resolutions successful #change #wellness #newyearsresolution Click To Tweet

The first thing to do to make your new years resolutions successful

Focus on what you want instead of what you don’t want

When we want to do, think or feel something different, we often phrase it as

I don’t want…

There is a focus on what we don’t want or what we want to lose. Understandable. It’s a good starting point.

You need to balance that by also focusing on what you want instead.

Because when you take something away – i.e. what you don’t want to be doing – putting something in its place will help you know what to focus on.

If you don’t do this, you can end up focusing your energies on what you no longer want rather than moving towards what you do want. And this is when people tend to give up.

A woman is sitting reading on a yellow sofa and wondering, 'I know what I don't want, but what do I want? I want to be more focused so my intentions needs to be specific.' The caption reads - What do you want for yourself this year? The point is that if we know what we want and we create specific actions to achieve that, then those actions help to make your new years resolutions successful

Here’s an example

Not be so critical of myself.

That’s a very common new year resolution. The danger is leaving it like that. You risk just saying, ‘Don’t be so critical of yourself!’ when you notice yourself being self-critical. You end up criticising yourself for being self-critical. Not helpful.

Think about what you want to be doing instead and include specific behaviours

To make your new years resolutions successful you can reword them to include specific behaviours of what you will be doing differently. For example:

When I notice myself being self-critical, I will tell myself, ‘Oh hey, there I go again.’ I will also smile as a way of showing myself self-compassion.

The second thing to do to make your new years resolutions successful

Figure out how you will incorporate what you want to do into your daily routine

This is important. So many people don’t think about this up front. They may have the resolution to ‘get fit’, they get a gym membership, go to the gym after work, do this for a few weeks in January, then stop because at the end of the work day they are so tired and just want to veg out in front of the tv. Or they have kids to put to bed.

If you give a bit of thought as to what action you can take and when during your day, it can help you figure out if your resolution is realistic. Or do you need to adapt it in some way so it is more achievable for you.

For example, I learned that I either have to live close to a gym, less than a mile walk, or I have to have a mini gym in my house. As I don’t live close to a gym, I opted for the mini gym in the house.

Picture of exercise equipment including a yoga mat, resistance bands, weights, a stepper, foam roller and Fit with Frank online bootcamp videos. Exercise and physiotherapy can help you move on from the depression about your illness or injury.

It is also a trial and error process. I learned I have to work out first thing in the morning after waking up and before any coffee or breakfast. The workout gets the highest priority. If I do that, the workout gets done.

Be open to trial and error

If it doesn’t work out the first time, don’t give up. Just find another way. You will eventually land on a way that works for you.

Remember, when you were a baby, you didn’t walk perfectly or eat well with a spoon the first time you attempted it. It probably too you several weeks to months to learn.

This is an original quote by Return To Wellness: "When you start to make a change, be open to learning and that it will be a trial and error process. Remember, you didn't eat with a spoon or walk perfectly the first time you attempted it as a baby." The point of this is to be gentle with yourself and to watch any tendencies towards holding yourself to your pre-illness or injury high standards or to be perfect. This will help you make your new years resolutions successful

The third thing to do to make your new years resolutions successful

Make your resolution specific

The other thing we often don’t do is make the goal specific. Let’s go back to the examples we used previously.

Not be so critical of myself.

versus

When I notice myself being self-critical, I will tell myself, ‘Oh hey, there I go again.’ I will also smile as a way of showing myself self-compassion.

The first one feels kind of big. When something feels big, it can sometimes feel overwhelming. Too big to start making a change.

But when you break the resolution down into smaller actions, it can feel so much more do-able and manageable. That’s a key ingredient to make your new years resolutions successful.

The second resolution above is a good example of that. It outlines specific things the person will do so she is no longer so critical of herself.

Keep your actions small

Specific actions are naturally smaller actions and these help you make your new years resolutions successful.

I was working with carers not long ago and a common goal they often have is to get fit. When we broke that goal down, taking more exercise became an important component. But the carers were worried whether they would actually take the time to exercise. So I said do it for 5 minutes at the start. That’s all.

When I re-introduced exercise back into my life in 2018, the first routine I did was 6 minutes long. That’s it. Since then, I’ve slowly built up the amount of time I exercise.  I dropped a dress size in the past year, my body shape has changed, and my cardio function has improved.

These are the benefits of keeping your resolutions small

Specific actions are naturally smaller actions and these help you make your new years resolutions successful.

A small (tiny even) action enables you to get started. Getting started is important.

It’s easier to take smaller action as it may not take as much time. So you’re more likely to keep taking the action(s) which makes it easier to build habits. Habits are good for lasting change.

Smaller actions allow you to work to a pace you are capable of and comfortable with given everything else going on in your life. It may mean change happens more slowly, but chances are much greater it will be long lasting change.

There are important benefits to keeping your #NewYearsResolutions small. Read about them here #change #wellness Click To Tweet

There is another reason why specific and small actions are important

When you or a loved one is dealing with a challenging health issue, you are dealing with some big changes. And all you want is to get your life back and feel like yourself again.

It can feel overwhelming. My clients have said this to me. I have personally experienced this.

Specific and small actions help you to not pile expectations onto yourself. But to take things at a gentler pace.

Small is good, achievable and gentle.

The caption of this picture reads: Small and specific actions help you to be gentle with yourself. A woman is standing and looking contended at a table. On the table are three actions. Go to yoga class once a week. Walk at lunch three times a week. Go out with a friend once a week. The woman is thinking, "Having just a few small actions this year feels much more possible to do." Small and specific actions will make your new years resolutions successful

What’s it like for you?

What do you think will help you to make your new years resolutions successful? What has worked in the past for you? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

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© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2020

How to change your snacking habit for the better

How to change your snacking habit for the better

You’ve tried to change your snacking habit and you may have made improvements at times, but they don’t seem to have lasted for very long. You end up dissatisfied and maybe even angry with yourself.

After all, you’re on a quest to improve your health because you’re dealing with your own or a loved one’s health issue. Or you just want to be and feel healthier. Also, if your snacking habit is a sugary one, that can have an impact on symptoms you or a loved one may be living with.

This is a common issue people have. I’ve been working with carers over the past year and more than one person has this issue on every course I do. So here I share what you can do to change your snacking habit for the better.

Have been working with #carers and an issue many of them have which they would like to change is their snacking habit. You can get a snapshot of how I work with them via this blog #change #health #wellness Click To Tweet

Note that this blog is less about the surface level things you can do to change your snacking habit

The internet is awash with it. It’s the hints and tips like don’t go down the snack aisle in the supermarket, limit what snacks you do buy, or substitute the chocolate and crisps with grapes, cucumbers and unsalted nuts. You know this stuff already.

What I offer here is an opportunity for you to dig a little a deeper. To get closer to the root cause of why it may have been hard to change your snacking habit.

You can’t look at snacking in isolation

To change your snacking habit for the better and for the long-term, it really helps to examine your relationship with

  • Food
  • Your emotions
  • Your body
  • Life events both positive and negative, small and large, past and present

A woman is looking at a circle which has been divided into four areas: Food, Your Emotions, Your Body, Life Events (past and present). She is saying, "I'll have to reflect on how my relationship with each of these areas influences my snacking habit." Considering how these four areas do that can help you change your snacking habit for the better.

You do that because snacking could be serving a purpose

That purpose could be connected to your relationship with food, how you view your body, your emotions, or it could be connected to something which happened to you in your life or even your present-day circumstances. These four areas can influence one another.

Sometimes people snack because they are bored. Snacking is something to do.

Or they snack alongside another activity – working on the computer, watching tv, driving. In this case, cares I’ve worked with described the snacking as ‘mindless’, i.e. they weren’t thinking about it. When you don’t think about it, you can very quickly go through a packet of biscuits or a bag of sweets.

Or snacking can provide comfort when you’re feeling down or upset.

Snacking could also be a distraction from difficult emotions and feelings which may be related to how you feel about yourself generally, an earlier life event or present-day circumstances.

Or maybe you grew up having a snack after school and have continued that tradition into adulthood even if you’re not hungry at that time.

Or you don’t like your body, you ignore it, and snacking is one way of dealing with that.

How to become aware of the purpose of snacking for you

When you next go for a snack, notice how you’re feeling.

Bored, restless for some reason, wanting to ignore a difficult task/project/activity you’re meant to do, you just had an argument, you did something well and want an award, something else?

This is about noticing your triggers.

Next time you go to get a snack, pause.

Give yourself a couple of minutes to notice what is triggering you. Notice what you’re telling yourself. And how you feel. You can even write this down including the time of day. If you do this over a period of time, you may start to notice patterns.

When you are eating the snack, what is that like for you?

How do you feel then? Satisfied? Disappointed? You’re not noticing anything?

What are you telling yourself?

What are the downsides of eating the snack? And the benefits?

As you’re snacking, you can write the responses to these questions. At this stage it is all about noticing without the intention of changing anything. You just want to raise your awareness and identify any patterns in your snacking.

Raising your level of awareness can be enough to help you move forward with changing your snacking habit.

Raising your level of awareness about your snacking habit – when you snack, why, how it helps you (or not) – can be enough to help you to change your snacking habit for the better. Read more here #change #health #wellness Click To Tweet

But the following is good if you are finding it hard to change your snacking habit.

What can be particularly helpful to change your snacking habit

Go back to the trigger for wanting a snack in the first place. Notice if you experience any sensations in your body as well. Do you feel anything in your legs, feet, stomach, solar plexus, chest, hands, arms, shoulders, back, neck, head, somewhere else?

Notice the sensation you feel. Is it a buzzy feeling, or more like shocks, a wave, or like knots, rocks, ache, hot, cold, something else? It can be anything. Or you may feel nothing.

Notice how big or small the sensation feels. Even if you feel nothing. What shape does it take? How much space does it occupy in that part of your body?

What colour is it? Does it have a texture, and if so, what is it like?

If this sensation could speak, what would it say?

Sometimes emotions accompany this. And that’s ok. It’s actually very valuable information so if emotions do appear, give them space to be there without judging them.

A woman is sitting at a table eating from a bowl of crisps. There are also bowls of biscuits, sweets, chocolate and cake on the table. The woman is saying, "I really need to cut down on all the snacks I eat. But I feel better when I have them!" She is starting to realise the purpose of snacking for her, i.e. makes her feel better. Knowing your reason for snacking can help you change your snacking habit for the better.

That sounds a little bit woo woo, what are you having me do?

If a habit like snacking is difficult to shift, the underlying reason could be resting in your body somewhere. By working with the bodily sensation, we are by-passing the rational mind which can be quick to discount and question everything. When the rational mind gets out of control like that, it can get in the way of us making change for ourselves.

Also, working with our bodies in addition to our minds is a holistic approach to change

In our society, we are sometimes very quick to discount our body and all the information it contains. People often think they are in full control of their bodies.

But given you have dealt with or are dealing with a challenging health issue, or know someone who is, you know that is not the case. There is a wealth of information in our bodies so it’s important to tap into that so we can best help ourselves.

Discover how working with your bodily sensations in relation to the snacking habit you wish to change can help. There’s a wealth of information in our bodies so it’s important to tap into that so we can best help ourselves. #change… Click To Tweet

So back to working with your body…

When you work with your body in this way, you can discover what the various parts of you need. If you are not used to identifying the bodily sensations you feel and working with them, this may take some practice. And that is ok. It is a skill that can be learned. And you don’t have to get this ‘perfect’ or ‘right’. Fumbling along is normal and acceptable!

If you feel nothing, sit a while longer. If you still feel nothing, it could be that this is a skill to develop. Or it could be a sensation of numbness.

When reading that it might be numbness, if you feel a reaction to that, it could be numbness you are feeling. And you may feel numb for any number of reasons.

A question to ask yourself is, ‘What could I be numbing?’ An answer may not appear readily. That’s ok. Just let that question percolate for a while and something may come to you.

If an answer does spear, it may be in the form of images, thoughts, events you remember and/or other sensations.

Identifying what you really need

You’ve identified the bodily sensation, its colour, texture, shape, how much space it occupies and even what it could say if it had a voice.

What does this part of you want?

What is driving this want? Is anything missing?

If you could have what you want, or what is missing, what would it be? What would having that give you?

Change your snacking habit by bringing more of what you want or what is missing into your life

How can you bring more of what you want or what is missing into your life?

When people share what that part of them wants, what is missing, I hear things like:

  • ‘A hug.’
  • ‘Love me.’
  • ‘You were a little girl. It wasn’t your fault.’
  • ‘Please slow down.’
  • ‘Don’t take on anything else right now.’
  • ‘I’m tired.’
  • ‘Pay attention to me.’

That’s really important information. Many times it’s a plea for self-nurturing, acknowledgement or recognition. There’s this part of us that hasn’t been seen, heard or understood for some time. What you can do now is look at ways of bringing more of what that part of you needs and wants.

Sometimes when we examine and feel into everyday habits we do without thinking, like snacking, we discover a doorway to something much more meaningful and fulfilling.

An original quote by Return to Wellness: "An unhelpful habit can actually be a plea for self-nurturing, acknowledgement and recognition." This is sometimes the real purpose behind snacking. If you become aware of what plea snacking is covering up, then you are in a better position to change your snacking habit for the better.

What’s it like for you?

What purpose does snacking play in your life? What strategies have you used to help you change that habit? What’s worked? What hasn’t? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

Pass it forward

Know of someone who would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to spread the ideas, click on the icons to share.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2019

How to deal with your life now versus how it should be

How to deal with your life now versus how it should be

Figuring out how to deal with your life now versus how it should be can be hard. Frustrating. Sad. Something has happened to you and your life that wasn’t in the plan. And it means that the life you had planned for yourself – your life how it should be – may no longer be possible.

Maybe what has happened was a challenging health issue has come into your or a loved one’s life. Your life or theirs may be changed forever as a result. Or maybe it’s a relationship betrayal or breakdown, redundancy, bankruptcy, move to a new home/city/country, or even the death of someone close to you. Or your life just hasn’t panned out in the way you had hoped for any number of reasons.

So how do you deal with your life now versus how it should be?

You expected your life to be a certain way. But now all that has changed due to a challenging #health issue. Read what you can do to deal with your life now versus how it should be #wellness #change Click To Tweet

The clue on how to deal with your life now versus how it should be is in that title

Look at the words

‘your life now versus how it should be’

There are two things happening in those words. I’m going to outline what they are and what you can do to reconcile the differences to help you deal with your life now versus how it should be.

The picture shows a woman trying to figure out how to deal with her life now versus how she thinks it should be. She is saying, 'I want to find the clues.' The caption reads: The clue on how to deal with your life now versus how it should be is in that sentence. Written in one box is 'my life now'. In another box, is written 'how it should be'. Should is underlined. Between the two boxes 'versus' is written. This is underlined too. Can you figure out the clues?

First, what is the ‘versus’ like for you?

When at a sporting event or playing a game, we use the word ‘versus’ to indicate two teams playing ‘against’ each other. The versus has connotations of winning and losing. One team will win the other will lose.

We then take that versus and use it on other areas of our lives. A union versus the government. You versus your boss. Boys versus girls.

In relation to how to deal with your life now versus how it should be, what is the energy in the versus for you?

Does the ‘versus’ feel like a fight? One that you aren’t winning? Are you in this perpetual state of losing? Or something else?

Second, notice the use of ‘should’

The use of the word ‘should’ is ‘used to show what is right, appropriate, etc.’. And it can be ‘used to say that something that was expected has not happened’.

Sometimes, the use of the word ‘should’ can fuse these two – what was expected to happen was the right thing to happen.

But there can be difficulty when the ‘should’ becomes a rule

When a person holds on tightly to what they consider the right and appropriate thing to do or be, that is when ‘should’ becomes more like a rule. The harder the person holds on to that ‘should’, the more fixed it becomes as a rule.

We often inherent such rules from the primary caregivers in our families of origin. Your mother, father, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, even teachers and friends’ parents. When we inherited them, they were useful at that time.

So how do you reconcile the differences between your life now and how it should be?

Read here to learn how to reconcile the differences between your life now versus how it should be #health #change #wellness Click To Tweet

Check if your ‘shoulds’ are outdated strategies

Because sometimes the should you learned in childhood was appropriate for that stage of your life but isn’t now. But you may learned the should more recently from people around you or even social media. Do this by asking yourself:

  • If someone from my past would have said this, who would that be?
  • If I learned this should more recently, from who or where did I learn it?
  • Is it helpful for me and my life to continue operating to this should?

If you’ve identified someone and you’ve realised it’s no longer helpful to carry around this should, then you can give that should back to them (on an energetic level).

Also, whenever you notice yourself using the word ‘should’ to show what is right, appropriate and correct, replace it with the word ‘could’. Notice what that is like for you.

The woman is looking at two boxes one which has 'my life now' written in it and the other 'how it could be'. The word could is underlined. Between them is written the word and and it is underlined. The caption reads: Notice how the use of 'could' rather than 'should' creates possibility and the potential for movement. The woman is saying, 'That feels so much better!'

Check the kind of energy you are putting into the ‘versus’

Is it the kind of energy where you feel like you are fighting to get to your life as it ‘should’ be but you’re not getting anywhere?

What if you were to let go of that fight and just be with how your life is now?

I appreciate that this can be a big ask because some situations are very tough to be in. As a start, just put the fight to one side for a bit and notice what that is like for you. You can return to it if you choose to.

So why did I suggest putting the fight to one side?

Check if you’re in the grip of ‘comparsion-itis’

Comparison is a common strategy people use to deal with their life now versus how it should be.

If you are constantly comparing your life as it is now versus how it should be, you are not happy with your life now and you are happy with the vision and hopes of how your life should be, yeah, that is gonna be hard. It can feel very negative.

Sometimes your life how it should be is your pre-illness/injury life and you are striving to get back to that. Reading this blog will also help.

That kind of constant comparison is energy draining. Your life now will never be good enough. And do you want to live your life like that?

I reckon you are probably shaking your head no.

So change the nature of the comparison you’re making as you deal with your life now versus how it should be

‘Should’ can be used to refer to a possible event or situation, so something in the future.

Your life ‘as it should be’ could be something in the future. It may be possible to achieve, it may not. Or maybe something in the middle of those two is achievable.

If the life you have dreamt for yourself is truly not possible, then mourn that loss

It’s a very real loss. Although our western society doesn’t always embrace or even allow mourning, it is a legitimate and healthy thing to do. And you can mourn without unpacking and living in it forever and ever. When you mourn you are honouring someone or something you valued. That is ok to do. It also helps to put an end to unhealthy comparison.

Reflect on the possibility of creating a life that is somewhere between, even beyond, the life you have now and the life you had hoped for

Depending on what you had hoped for in your life, how can you create it or aspects of it now in the life you do have? It may take a different form. It may take more effort on your part to make happen. It may take a while to make happen. But what are the possibilities? And what actions can you start taking to make them happen? However small those actions may be.

This is about purposefully creating the life you want given everything that you have dealt with and may have to deal with.

These possibilities can be flexible and adaptable goals. I use the words flexible and adaptable to highlight that you may need to be open to changing how you reach the goal, aspects of the goal or even the goal itself. This can help lessen a ‘rule fixed should’ taking hold.

Reading this related blog on finding the new you after a difficult experience like the onset of a challenging health issue or something else, will also help.

If it’s not yet possible to create the life you want, then notice the good in your life now and what makes you smile

A woman is sitting down looking at a continuum above her and smiling. She's in a good place. At one end of the continuum is 'your life now'. Above it reads 'notice the good here'. At the other end of the continuum is 'how your life should be' and the word should is in quotes. Above it is written, mourn what you've lost and valued. Between those two points of the continuum is highlighted the middle and there's the questions: What are the possibilities here? How could you life be? Below near the woman who is sitting down, there's a rubbish bin and in it is 'comparison-itis'. The emphasis here is how you reconcile the differences between your life now and how it 'should' be by looking at all the possibilities between the two.

That may sound really cliched, but it has value because it’s true.

Maybe you are dealing with a lot of uncertainty so until some of that lessens you can’t say what you want your life to be like or you know but don’t have the energy to create it just yet. For example, when you’re in the acute phase of a challenging health issue and having treatment, or in a flare, or even for situations such as divorce, bankruptcy, redundancy, something else.

So take a deep breath.

Let go of the struggle.

Notice the small, even tiny things that make you smile and remind you of the good in the world.

Someone who smiles at you on the street. A funny meme on social media. The bird outside your house. The sun shining. A hug a loved one gives you. A cup of tea someone makes for you or you make for them. A news story about something someone did that was kind.

Just keep noticing those small things day-in and day-out, day after day. That helps you to keep some good in your life which helps to keep a sense of balance. It also makes sure you don’t forget how to notice the good things, which is so important.

Finally, if comparison-it is ever starts to take hold…

Remind yourself that you only need to compare you and your life to the you and your life of yesterday.

An original inspirational quote by Return to Wellness reads: You only need to compare you and your life to the you and your life of yesterday."

What’s it like for you?

What resonated with you in this blog? In learning how to deal with your life now versus how it should be, what would help you? Or has helped? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

Pass it forward

Know someone who would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to spread the ideas, click on the icons to share.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2019

How to have a growth mindset after illness

How to have a growth mindset after illness

You may feel that learning how to have a growth mindset after an illness or injury sounds like a hippy fad, or a luxury reserved for people who don’t have challenging health issues, or it’s just not a priority as you’re trying to figure out how to live in a changed body, sort out the impact on family dynamics, return to work etc. etc.

Yet, what if I said that learning how to have a growth mindset is a key part of learning how to live well with the impact of a challenging health issue? It is. You didn’t seek to have a challenging health issue, whether you or a loved one has/had it. It’s been an unwelcome intrusion in your life, which can bring up all sorts of unpleasant emotions and feelings. And that is on top of dealing with the health issue itself.

So I want to share some tools to help you learn how to have a growth mindset. To equip you with the knowledge and skills you need on this journey to help you get through it with more ease.

There's a woman standing and holding a map of her rehabilitation plan and the various routes she needs to take to meet her goals. On the map is written open mind, adapting, flexibility, persistence, self-compassion and learning. She is saying, 'I need to revisit what I know and need to learn to help me on my journey.' The caption reads 'developing a growth mindset will help you on your journey'.

But first, a recap of what a growth mindset is and it’s opposite, a fixed mindset

Last week I wrote about what a growth mindset is and why it’s important so here’s a quick recap.

A person has a growth mindset when they believe they can learn and change things for themselves through effort, strategies and help from others. Even in tough situations like dealing with a challenging health issue. They believe that their intelligence and abilities are not fixed.

When a person believes they cannot learn or change things or that one’s intelligence and abilities are fixed, that is known as a fixed mindset. Some common examples of this are when you hear people say, ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.’ Or ‘I cannot possibly learn that!’ Or ‘I couldn’t possibly be creative.’ Or they give up quickly because of the challenges, obstacles and difficult people getting in the way of what they want for themselves.

However, we all experienced growth and fixed mindsets. It can depend on the situation, the people we are with, how we are feeling and more. They are not static. Which is good. Because it means you can learn and change if you choose to.

This is a pic detailing the characteristics of growth and fixed mindsets. A growth mindset believes that intelligence can be developed. It leads to a desire to learn and therefore a tendency to embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, see effort as the path to mastery, learn from criticism, and find lessons and inspiration in the success of others. As a result they achieve more and it gives people a sense of greater free will. A fixed mindset believes that intelligence is static. It leads to a desire to look smart and therefore a tendency to avoid challenges, give up easily, see effort as fruitless or worse, ignore useful negative feedback and feel threatened by the success of others. As a result, they may plateau early and achieve less than their full potential. A fixed mindset confirms a deterministic view of the world. This demonstrates why believing your intelligence is not fixed and you can learn is so important in learning how to have a growth mindset after illness or injury.
Concept of Growth & Fixed Mindsets by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. Image by Nigel Holmes.

Let’s move on to learning how to have a growth mindset

First, you can do a mindset assessment here to learn about your current mindset. You do have to give them your name and email to get the results.

My results said I had a good foundation but may feel uncomfortable with criticism even if it’s well intended and I can be hard on myself when I make mistakes. Yep! I am a work-in-progress!

Your results can give you a good starting point on where to look when you’re in fixed mindset mode. With that increased self-awareness, you then have more choices. So on to the next stage.

The 7 signs that you are in fixed mindset mode

I’ve come up with seven signs, but there could be more. The signs could be different for each of us. What I share are common ones I’ve seen in my work with clients and even myself.

For each sign that you may be in a fixed mindset mode, I offer what you can do instead.

A fixed mindset won’t help you live well with the impact of a challenging #health issue. Read about the seven signs you are in fixed mindset mode and what you can do instead #growthmindset Click To Tweet

You know you are in a fixed mindset when you

Have a case of ‘comparisonitis’

You compare yourself to others, you look at what they have and you don’t and feel envious and bad as a result. Your mood takes a nosedive.

It is so hard to look at what other people have which you value and wish you had too.

I could write a lot on this and will some day.

How to have a growth mindset when dealing with ‘comparisonitis’

Keep in mind that everyone is on a different journey. Their journey is not your journey.

Focus on your journey. Where you are now, where you want to get to and what you need to do, think, feel and be to get to your desired destination.

Also, only compare yourself to the you of yesterday and your goals. Adjust your goals to keep them realistic and achievable too if that is needed.

There are two versions of the same woman standing. One is the woman of yesterday. One is the woman of today. The woman of yesterday is saying, 'I didn't do so great on my physiotherapy today.' The woman of today is saying, 'Today's physio went well. And we need to adjust our goals.' The caption reads: Manage 'comparison-itis' by only comparing you to the you of yesterday. That is key in learning how to have a growth mindset after illness or injury.

You are working so very hard to your pre-illness/injury standards and not getting anywhere

The level of frustration you are feeling is through the roof! Sometimes this persistence can actually help your rehabilitation. But if you feel like you are fighting and not getting anywhere, that is the sign you need to do something different.

How to have a growth mindset regarding your personal standards

You need to reset your personal standards so they are realistic to what you can do now and work to those. They may get you to your pre-illness or injury standards. But they may not and being open to that will make the journey much less stressful. You can read more about that here.

You’re aiming for perfection

This relates to the point above. It often comes out when a client says, ‘I have high standards.’ High standards are not bad, but you need to have a flexible approach towards them. You need to adjust them. Particularly as your body has changed and it is working double time. Your body may not have the energy levels to cope.

How to have a growth mindset regarding perfectionist tendencies

If you reread the results of my mindset assessment above, my ‘watch out for’ areas on how I respond to certain kinds of feedback and making mistakes point to my perfectionist tendencies. Yes, I have them and they are a great sign to me when I need to demonstrate flexibility and do something different. When I do that, that’s when I shift from a fixed to a growth mindset.

Reminding myself the following helps.

  • Me giving 75% effort towards something is most likely someone else’s 110% helps.
  • The world will most certainly not end if things aren’t perfect.
  • Mistakes are learning opportunities.

You’re trying not to ‘give in’ to the illness/injury

But you feel tired, you feel like your illness or injury is ‘winning’. I hear this language being used a lot, particularly in the context of acceptance of an illness or injury. It is indicative of a fight, but one that is very negative.

A typical sign of this fight is not resting when your body is screaming for it. Because resting would be ‘giving in’. And you can’t do that because the illness or injury would be in control.

But this kind of fight doesn’t help you. It’s also not you taking control. Your energy is so focused on fighting, it’s not freed up to look after yourself. Resting would be you recognising what you need and taking control. That’s the paradox.

How to have a growth mindset regarding ‘giving in’ to your illness/injury

If you notice yourself ‘fighting’ your illness or injury in this way, have a go at doing the opposite of what you’re doing. Chances are it is what you need to be doing.

Are you trying not to ‘give in’ to your #seriousillness #seriousinjury? If yes and you are feeling like you aren’t getting anywhere, then read this blog. It will help you to help yourself. #growthmindset Click To Tweet

You don’t ask for help

This is so common when people are dealing with the impact of an illness or injury. I have written a lot about it and recommend a read.

How to have a growth mindset regarding help

What you can do is practice asking for help. Try it with small things first to notice your internal response to asking for help. People have often said to me their worst fears don’t come to pass.

Also make sure to ask people who are willing and capable of helping you.

Your inner critic gets in the driving seat when you struggle or make a mistake

This can be a sign of a perfectionist tendency. Remember, you are the CEO of you so you can take charge of the inner critic.

How to have a growth mindset regarding your ‘inner critic’

You do that by taking a large dose of self-compassion and asking yourself the following questions:

  • What did I struggle with in particular?
  • And what does that tell me about me, my skills, my knowledge?
  • What am I learning from that? Is there a skill I need to learn? New knowledge to seek out?
  • What part of this did I actually do ok even well?

Asking yourself these questions turns the mistake into a learning opportunity. It works really well.

A woman is holding a very large glass of a large dose of self-compassion and learning. Behind her on a table stand two bottles and one has self-compassion written on it and the other has my learning written on it. The woman is saying, 'This is a large dose. I hope it tastes ok.'' Near the glass it says ' a large does of self-compassion and learning is tasty'. The caption reads 'doses of self-compassion and learning help you to have a growth mindset'.

You’re trying to convince others you’re ok when you’re not

We could do this for all sorts of reasons and it’s a complex one. So today I’m only going to focus on it from one angle.

You may fear about ‘burdening’ the other person. And this could be an assumption on your part. That will depend on the person you are trying to convince and your relationship with them.

Or we may not want to deal with the kind of response we know we may get from that person. Understandable.

Be discerning on who you try the following out with. If it’s the type of person who doesn’t do well with other people’s difficulties, don’t try it with them. If it’s someone who is empathetic, chances are it is safe to be honest with them.

How to have a growth mindset regarding being authentic regarding the issues you have with your illness or injury

If the person is close to you and it’s a good relationship, have a go at saying how you really feel. You don’t have to say everything. Just a little bit. They may respond in a way which shatters your assumption about burdening them. Their response may be just what you need.

Learning how to have a growth mindset requires these three qualities

What I have suggested you do differently for each sign above requires you to open your mind to new possibilities, flexibility and adaptability. They help you to learn how to have a growth mindset and will enable you to go far.

A woman is standing and holding 'open mind'. In front of her is a table and on it are 'flexibility', 'adaptability' and a growth mindset bag. The woman is saying, 'I have to pack my growth mindset bag for my journey.' She is going to put open mind, flexibility and adaptability in her bag. The caption reads: An open mind, adaptability and flexibility help you learn how to have a growth mindset.

What’s it like for you?

In which situations do you notice you’re in a fixed mindset? What have you done in those situations to switch to a growth mindset? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

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© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2019

Why a growth mindset is important after illness

Why a growth mindset is important after illness

Having a growth mindset is important after illness or injury. I feel it is key to crafting a life worth living when you are dealing with a challenging health issue whether your own or a loved one’s. It’s a way of believing, thinking, doing, and feeling and is based on the work done by Carol Dweck, a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. So it has an evidence base.

The idea for this blog came from the video I shared last week in which they refer to a growth mindset in relation to grief. And I thought this concept that a growth mindset is important after illness or injury deserves more attention.

Because it can be tough living with unwelcomed changes. To the point we forget to notice the good stuff which happens in our life. It feels like happiness, confidence and joy have well and truly left the building. It feels like life is so hard now and if your body has changed a lot, it feels like you have no control to effect change anymore.

So in this blog I share what a growth mindset is, why it’s important particularly in the case of dealing with challenging health issues, and the one thing you can do to set a strong foundation for developing a growth mindset. I also signpost to additional resources.

There's a picture of a woman seated in front of a window. She is crying. It's sunny outside. There's a person called sadness seated at her feet. Behind her three people representing confidence, happiness and joy are leaving the house. Joy is saying, 'Sadness has moved in and is taking up our space so we had best leave.' Happiness responds, 'Ok.' The caption reads: When you don't practice a growth mindset, happiness, confidence and joy are more likely to leave the building.

What is a growth mindset?

A person has a growth mindset when they believe they can learn and change things for themselves through effort, strategies and help from others.

You may have to put in a lot of effort, and sometimes that can be really hard. There can be obstacles and challenges, but you persevere, look for strategies to help, and get help when you need it. You feel good with the results and you look forward to learning more.

A person has a growth mindset when they believe they can learn and change things for themselves through effort, strategies and help from others. Important when you are living with a #seriouillness #seriousinjury… Click To Tweet

The opposite is a fixed mindset

When a person believes they cannot learn or change things or that one’s ability is fixed, then that is known as a fixed mindset.

For example, you believe that intelligence is fixed and you can’t or don’t want to change it. You here this in the saying, ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.’ Or when someone says, ‘I cannot possibly learn that!’ or ‘I’m not creative.’

Challenge, obstacles and difficult people get in the way of getting what you want for yourself. You give up. There’s no point. You cannot effect change. And you generally don’t feel happy, able, satisfied, etc.

When a person believes they cannot learn or change things or that one’s ability is fixed, then that is known as a fixed mindset. This can get in the way of you living well with the impact of a challenging #health issue… Click To Tweet

Here’s an example of growth and fixed mindsets

Fixed MindsetGrowth Mindset
Mindset – Your belief about somethingYou believe that your body has changed so much it’s beyond repair.You believe that some gains in your rehabilitation can be made.
What you think and say to yourself as a result of your belief“What is the point of doing physiotherapy? Nothing is changing. And I’m never going to be able to things like I used to!”“I want to learn what I can be doing to help myself.”
What you do as a result, i.e. how that belief manifests itself in your behaviour You don’t do physiotherapy and choose to watch tv instead. You find a physiotherapist who specialises in treating your condition. You have a family member help you from time to time with your physio.
The outcome of the aboveDue to reduced movement, your function has deteriorated. You now have to use a wheelchair full time. You have to rely on others a lot to get out and about. Doing your physiotherapy exercises improves your balance and mobility. You can now use a stick when walking outside whereas previously you had to use the wheelchair.
How you feel about the outcome You feel frustrated you cannot move as freely as you used to. But this is life. You are pleased you can use mainly just the stick to get out and about.

This is a simplified example. With some conditions, gains in rehabilitation won’t be large, they can be minimal over time. Efforts at rehabilitation may largely prevent you from getting worse rather than improving your functionality. Also, having to use a wheelchair full time is no bad thing at all. A wheelchair can be someone’s legs enabling them to get out and about in the world.

What I am highlighting is the mindset you start out with, the end result, and how you feel about the end result. So even if you can’t change your physical functioning due to the health issue, the growth mindset applies to how you feel about it and deal with it.

This is a pic detailing the characteristics of growth and fixed mindsets. A growth mindset believes that intelligence can be developed. It leads to a desire to learn and therefore a tendency to embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, see effort as the path to mastery, learn from criticism, and find lessons and inspiration in the success of others. As a result they achieve more and it gives people a sense of greater free will. A fixed mindset believes that intelligence is static. It leads to a desire to look smart and therefore a tendency to avoid challenges, give up easily, see effort as fruitless or worse, ignore useful negative feedback and feel threatened by the success of others. As a result, they may plateau early and achieve less than their full potential. A fixed mindset confirms a deterministic view of the world. This demonstrates why a growth mindset is important after illness or injury.
Concept of Growth & Fixed Mindsets by Carol Dweck, Ph.D. Image by Nigel Holmes.

We all have a mixture of growth and fixed mindsets

In some situations, or with certain people we may have a growth mindset. In other situations, or with other people, it may be more fixed. We will experience both at different times. And they change as we change and experience new things. Growth and fixed mind states are not static.

Why a growth mindset is important

A growth mindset means

  • we are more flexible in our outlook, we can see the negatives and the positives,
  • we view the effort and struggle required to learn and do something new as part of the process rather than something that is negative and must be avoided,
  • we can learn from mistakes, failures and challenges rather than wallowing in them and giving up,
  • we are more willing to ask for and accept help from others, and
  • we see or can create the opportunities for ourselves.

In short, we believe we can learn. Even if there are challenges, obstacles and unhelpful people on our path. We find a way over, above, under or around them. And we learn from these experiences. As well as learning from experiences when things have gone well and came more easily to us.

Why a growth mindset is important after illness or injury

A growth mindset can help you to more quickly find ways to manage your health issue, live well enough with it, and also to thrive and flourish. It enables you to take control.

A #growthmindset can help you to more quickly find ways to manage your #health issue, live well enough with it, and also to thrive and flourish. It enables you to #takecontrol Click To Tweet

How quickly this happens for you is impossible to say. It depends on how developed your growth mindset is, when it is in operation or when a fixed mindset takes control.

Due to the inherent belief of a fixed mindset that making change is not possible, it can be harder for you to live well after experiencing a serious illness or injury. Ultimately, it can make it harder for happiness, confidence and joy to walk back into the building.

There's a picture of a woman seated. She is crying whilst thinking, 'I don't think change is possible. This is it.' There's a person called sadness seated at her feet. Sadness is crying and saying, 'I can keep you company.' Behind her three people representing confidence, happiness and joy are looking at her through a window. They are outside. Joy is saying, 'I'm not sure she is ready for us. She is still so very sad.' Confidence is saying in response to Joy, 'Not yet. I'm confident she'll eventually be ready for us.' The caption reads: A fixed mindset can make it harder to live well with the impact of illness or injury. This demonstrates that a growth mindset is important after illness or injury.

It is understandable how a fixed mindset can come about

You can become conditioned over time to focus on the difficulties and negative aspects of your health issue because you deal with it daily. For example, you know how difficult it can be to deal with a really tough treatment like chemotherapy and all its side effects. Or a lot of uncertainty about how your symptoms like chronic pain or fatigue will be from day-to-day and therefore what you can do. Or fear of relapse. Learning how to live in a changed body that doesn’t do what you used to do and still want to do.

After a time, the difficulties, fears and negative aspects become all you know. You can forget to focus on positive experiences and good things that happen. You may feel stuck in the pit of negativity and not see a way out. With some clients, a large part of our work is developing that way out.

The work involves making a conscious effort to focus on good stuff that happens and nice experiences, however small they are (tiny is fine). Doing this reminds you of your ability to notice the good and positive things in your life and strengthen it. This helps to restore a sense of balance to your experiences and therefore how you feel. I think of it as setting the foundation for developing a growth mindset.

You can see why developing a growth mindset is important after illness. It ensures you don’t end up living in the pit of negativity.

The woman is no longer sitting and crying. She is standing up with the support of sticks. She is saying to her friend who is smiling, 'Thank you for everything! I feel that change is possible now.'' Behind her three people representing Confidence, Happiness and Joy are entering the house. Confidence is saying, 'I knew she would be ready for us again.' Happiness is saying, 'I'm so happy we're back!' The caption reads: A growth mindset makes change possible. This demonstrates that a growth mindset is important after illness or injury.

So yes, it is possible to develop a growth mindset

Even if the situation which has caused all the changes to you and your life was unwelcome and traumatic like a life-changing health issue often is, it is possible with time to develop a growth mindset from it. This isn’t to say you have to be 100% positive and happy all of the time because that is just unrealistic. Nor is it to say you should not or won’t experience difficult emotions. You may and you acknowledge them as I wrote about last week. And you also learn from them.

How you develop it is a blog I’ll write for another day. But now you know why a growth mindset is important after illness or injury, here are some good resources to learn more about the topic.

What’s it like for you?

In which areas of your life do you feel you have a growth mindset and in which areas a fixed mindset? What has contributed to that? What resources would you like to help you develop a growth mindset? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

Pass it forward

Know of someone who would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to spread the ideas, click on the icons to share.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2019

What is grief in the context of your illness and life?

What is grief in the context of your illness and life?

What is grief in the context of your illness or injury? Should you be grieving for what you’ve lost as a result of it?

Well that depends. Every person is different. Every person will have different beliefs about grief. And everyone grieves differently. So you will all have different responses to experiencing a life-changing illness or injury, whether you or a loved one has.

A member of the Return To Wellness® community asked me those questions. They are good questions. Hard questions for which there are no easy answers as you might have already guessed. I’m going to have a go at responding to them. But I want to go back to basics first.

What is #grief in the context of your #illness or #injury? Should you be grieving for what you have lost? Read more here Click To Tweet

What is grief?

Dictionary.com defines grief as

  • keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret
  • a cause or occasion of keen distress or sorrow

We typically associate grief and grieving with the death of someone we know. When you lose someone whom you may have been close to, you miss them, you feel that loss of them in your life, you feel sadness and maybe even pain. Numbness and anger can also be present. But you can feel these feelings in relation to other difficult situations in life.

What is grief in the context of your illness or injury?

Grief in the context of your illness or injury is similar to the death of a loved one. The similarity is in the loss. When you or a loved one has experienced a life-changing illness or injury, there can be losses. The person you or your loved one once were. Your (or their) abilities to do certain things perhaps. A loss of perceived health. There can be any number of losses.

You might really value what you have lost. And feel sad and angry about the losses and all the change that has meant for you. The sadness and/or anger may feel incredibly intense at times. It may feel really painful. And at other times, the intensity lowers a bit. Regardless of its intensity, that sadness and pain you feel is grief.

Grief in the context of your illness or injury can take many forms. This picture shows five woman each showing a different face of grief: numbness, pain, sadness, anger and tiredness.

Should you be grieving for what you’ve lost as a result?

I think grief and grieving can scare people. It is often associated with crying, tears, and being sad. And it feels as that is taboo in our society to do. If we look sad or get emotional, people rush to say and do things to help us feel better. They tell us, ‘Oh no, dear, don’t cry! It’ll get better.’ They make us a cup of tea. Etc. etc. British culture compounds this as we’ve got the sayings, ‘Be strong, carry on’ and ‘Stiff upper lip.’

It’s also almost as if we are not allowed to experience the emotions and feelings associated with losing something. We aren’t allowed to grieve.

Or we feel it’s only reserved for when someone has died. And given you or your loved one have not died from the illness or injury, you may feel you don’t have a right to grieve. Because you’re alive, right? You should just feel thankful and grateful.

Sadness can exist alongside feeling thankful and grateful

On the other hand, I often hear people who have experienced a life-changing illness or injury encouraging others who have more recently joined the club (so to speak) to grieve for what they have lost. They go on to explain that it helps to mourn as if the experience of the illness or injury was a death.

And it is. A life-changing illness or injury changes things. You have your life before. Then your life afterwards. Your life before has ended. A death is an ending. And endings can be hard. So alongside feeling thankful and grateful that you or your loved one are alive, you can also feel intense sadness and/or pain.

A life-changing #illness or #injury changes things. You have your life before. Then your life afterwards. Your life before has ended. A new life lies ahead of you. Read about this transition here Click To Tweet

So what does grief in the context of your illness or injury look like?

How do you grieve?

There is no ‘right way’ of grieving. A client once said to me that their illness was like a death of sorts. They talked about it a lot but did not cry. Other people will be in floods of tears and not able to speak. Others may do something in between.

Some people might take themselves off somewhere to engage in activity when they feel grief coming to visit. This activity might be woodworking, running, walking, rolling, cooking, baking, drawing, painting, writing, knitting, sewing, reading, swimming, it could be anything.

Other people will want to find someone else or a group to talk about it with. To be with people like them who get it.

This picture is about what can help you cope with grief in the context of your illness or injury. A girl is sitting on a pouff looking at what can help her cope with the grief she feels. They are talking to someone you trust and who won't judge you. Answering the question, What has enabled me to get this far? Attend a support group. Write down how you feel. Own your feelings of grief, 'I feel...'. Express your feelings through an activity like sport, drawing, cooking, painting, knitting, singing, gardening, etc. Cry or shout if you need to. Notice small things which make you smile. Start a project you've been meaning to.

The most important thing to do with grief in the context of your illness or injury

The phrase that is coming to me is honouring your grief. I am not saying to unpack and live there forever and ever. Just to acknowledge it and give it some attention. It is there because you feel sadness, emotional pain, possibly anger, regret, numbness and any multitude of feelings and emotions.

You acknowledge it by simply saying, ‘I lost XYZ due to this illness/injury. I miss that. I feel ABC about it.’ And let yourself feel whatever it is you feel.

It’s important to acknowledge all that. Because it is part of your experience. And your experience is valid.

It’s important to acknowledge all that. Because it is part of your experience. And your experience is valid. I appreciate this is difficult. It is not a walk or roll in the park.

When you get in touch with these emotions and feelings, you are saying to yourself that your experience matters, that it is valid. And hence you are valid. From a psychological perspective, this self-validation is incredibly important and healthy to do.

Then let your grief be a catalyst for something new

This video explains a lovely concept about growing around your grief. Although this video is in the context of how childhood grief can spur success, this concept of growing around your grief equally applies to experiencing a challenging health issue.

They talk about growing around your grief so you are not suffocated by it, making sense of what has happened to you, and having a growth mindset. A growth mindset is about proactively finding ways to grow in the way you wish from the experience.

This doesn’t mean that you have to live your illness or injury and assume it as your identity. It is about getting on with your life in the way that is meaningful for you.

This is a picture of an original quote by Return to Wellness which says: "What if you were to let your grief due to a challenging health issue be a catalyst for something new in your life which you value?" This requires you to know about grief in the context of your illness or injury.

What’s it like for you?

What has grief in the context of your illness or injury been like? What has or would help you get on with your life in a way that is meaningful for you? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

Pass it forward

Know of someone who would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to spread the ideas, click on the icons to share.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2019

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