I was out in ‘the Village’ today, in a shop, patiently waiting my turn. Patience, though, is not in my blood – quite the reverse; I am probably one of the most impatient people I know (not very well but working on it). So, to make the ‘patiently waiting’ a reality I have to keep active in other ways. One trick I have always done is to observe people and drop-listen to what they say – all done as unobtrusively as possible, of course.
There I was, apparently minding my own business but not missing a beat. Before me, and being served, was an elderly lady (I mention this just as part of setting the scene; otherwise her age is not very relevant to the story). She tried to put her card in the wrong slot of the machine and when the assistant helped her, she said: ‘I always do that!’
This made me think: I do this one from time to time. I get something wrong and I go: ‘I always do that!’ In terms of negative mentality this is up there, together with ‘I can never do this!’ Most of us spend most of our lives stuck somewhere between ‘I always’ and ‘I never’.
‘I always’ and ‘I never’ are part of the vocabulary of closed mindsets and closed mindsets is what is stopping us changing and growing. Acceptance is a mainstream assassin of the joy, happiness and fulfillment with which our lives can be so abundant.
Changing a mindset can be approached at three levels: our feelings, our thoughts and our language. These are so inter-twined that it doesn’t really matter, I believe, which one we use as an entry point – to change a mindset we have to affect all three.
Today, the lady in the shop reminded me that changing the words and sentences we use changes the way we think and, ultimately, the way we feel. Changing our language is a matter of habit; and as any habit it can be changed. I identified three sentences that I’ll substitute over the next twenty eight days. These are:
‘I always do that!’ for ‘I will remember next time.’
‘I never remember…’ for ‘I shall remind myself…’
‘I shall never do that!’ for ‘I may have a go at some point.’
Or shall I just stop using ‘always’ and ‘never’ altogether? What do you think?