You don’t need a psychology degree to unlock a healthy mindset, though this type of higher degree provides tools to make it easier to do research. Ana Melikian, PhD, was born in Portugal and achieved her psychology degree abroad but transformed herself into a life and business coach here in the states. She loves tapping into the human potential and much of what she does dives into neuroscience and cognitive research. According to Georgetown University, neuroscience focuses on the brain and its impact on behavior within the nervous system.
However, life experience plays a very important role for any type of mindset coach and two bouts with cancer has provided plenty of life experience for Ana as well as direct application in establishing a healthy mindset. Fear and inaction are limiting behaviors, fed by limiting beliefs. In this article, timed for the crest of beginning a new year, we will cover some basics of a healthy mindset with steps to uncover possibilities for the future by uncovering blind spots and quieting your inner critic.
Your mindset is influenced and molded by your previous experiences and creates a certain view of the world. Many counselors work to uncover those experiences that hold us back. Some find themselves facing painful memories that they have shoved down for a number of years to never uncover.
As an example, according to ResearchGate, people who went through the horrors of the Holocaust, the genocide of European Jews during World War II, struggle with overwhelming memories in different ways. Many choose to block it out completely. Some war heroes have done the same. Though those are dramatic scenarios, they do illustrate the effect of trauma with the dissociation from memories. When looking to explore new possibilities it’s helpful to evaluate the source of road blocks in achieving your goals. Those blocks can lead to anxiety, fear or anger that will stop you in your tracks.
Uncovering Blind Spots
When on a recent trip, it was fairly seamless to get our rental car. I had reserved a vehicle of standard size. After my husband folded himself into the driver’s seat, we worked our way out of the rental lot. When merging onto the freeway onramp, multiple honks and gestures came from a vehicle that suddenly appeared on our left. With a glance at the other driver’s mouthed curses, we became fully aware of our car’s blind spot.
It’s hard to identify our own blind spots, even when driving through life’s multiple onramps. It takes humility and the willingness to look hard at influences, responses and areas you can’t see when merging. My current vehicle has a small warning light in the side mirror when a car is to my right or left. I still look over my shoulder, but those lights boost my confidence when merging. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all had warning lights as we bumped through life? We can hopefully learn and grow as areas in our lives are uncovered.
The Happiness Fallacy
Happiness is a buzzword touted on many self-help books. There are over 417 million results when doing a Google search. Happiness has been a road many have sought, but there is no set route. Change is a constant and adjusting to change is not always a comfortable process, which makes one wonder if the pursuit of happiness is even worth the effort.
Martin Seligman chose positive psychology as the theme for this term serving as president of the American Psychological Association. This type of positivity focuses on the good life, or happiness, but many times its pursuit can produce stress. When writing, he didn’t want to call any of his book titles happy. But the publisher knew what people wanted to read. Seligman didn’t want to water down the happiness principle with a simplistic mention of positive thinking or a gratitude journal, though both of those principles help.
The pursuit of happiness was clear to Ana when she arrived in the United States as an immigrant. She saw what the Declaration of Independence stated about happiness and she knew she was in the right place. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. But Ana went one step beyond merely pursuing happiness. She started tapping into the power of now by not just doing and pursuing happiness but living. This took her getting beyond self-criticism to see future possibilities and opportunities.
Quieting the Inner Critic
As we get older, we become more and more aware of the danger around us. We want to be safe, avoiding many areas, not touching. We also start avoiding the thoughts that criticize and blame. We run away from fear as our inner critic and voices hold us back with inaction. But we can harness that inner voice of criticism with self-awareness and focus on the present. This takes a conscious decision to not fear failure but live with honesty and acceptance. It’s not enough to merely focus on positive thoughts. Miles Davis, the legendary jazz musician used the principle of failure in his music saying, Once is a mistake, twice is jazz. I have found that principle to hold true in my music career!
Live in the now: To regain mental focus, breathing is one of the quickest ways to press the pause button. This is one of Ana’s top tips. As an exercise, exhale as much air as you can, like blowing out all the trick candles on a birthday cake. After you are empty, now breathe in. Think of your morning coffee. If you empty your cup first, you can fill it with fresh, hot coffee.
Develop a grateful heart: Take time to be grateful and thankful. This takes focus off your own self-doubt and inner critic to see what’s going right in your life, here and now. You don’t need to face bouts of cancer to realize you can change the way you relate to the world. Enjoy every moment you’re alive. It’s a gift.
- Bad Code: Overcoming Bad Mental Code that Sabotages Your Life
- Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results
- Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything
- about Ana melikian
Ana Melikian has a Ph.D. in Psychology and 20+ years of experience applying psychological and social science insights to unlock our human potential. She has a popular podcast, The Mindset Zone.
Your mindset is influenced and molded by your previous experiences and creates a certain view of the world.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
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