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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

10 Important Things to Remember for Intentional Living

10 Important Things to Remember for Intentional Living

They say “what you don’t know can’t hurt you,” but when it comes to your mind, this statement couldn’t be further from the truth. What you don’t know about your mind, what runs it, and how it drives your life can definitely hurt you—probably more than anything else, especially when it comes to intentional living.

As a therapist and former social anxiety sufferer, I know exactly how important it is and how life-changing it can be to start living with intention and take back the reins of your life.

I want to share 10 vital facts that will help you understand your mind so that you can live more intentionally, which really means to live life on your terms according to the beliefs and values that best serve you in the long run.

1. Your Mind and Your Brain Are Two Different Things

“I think, therefore I am.” –Rene Descartes

Rene Descartes made the distinction centuries ago between the mind — the essence of which is thinking—and brain matter, but it’s been a debate among scientists globally ever since.[1]

What we know to be true is that if you were to point to your mind and your brain, you point at the same thing, right?

You can also be dead with a brain, but you can’t be alive without your mind. You can also be dead with a brain, but you can’t be alive without your mind. You are your consciousness, and although scientists are yet to prove its limits, we know that it’s extremely powerful[2]. According to scientists:

“The brain is the physical substance, and the mind is the conscious product of those firing neurons, according to the classic argument. But growing evidence shows that the mind goes far beyond the physical workings of your brain.”

Being aware of the fact that your mind is something that isn’t constrained by your brain—that it’s a container for something much larger and more powerful—is the first step to gaining higher consciousness. Intentional living requires gaining such higher consciousness.

Action: Don’t take your consciousness for granted, and question everything you know to be true.

2. Your Mind Can Physically Change Your Brain

“The time has come for science to confront the serious implications of the fact that directed willed mental activity can clearly and systematically alter brain function.” –Jeffrey Schwartz, The Mind and The Brain

This is what mind over matter means: our mind can control and influence our physical state and change our brain function.[3] Search Google and you’ll find evidence from all over the globe of people healing themselves, surprising doctors, and shaping their realities with focused and willed thoughts.

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I have personally experienced the power of changing a deep-rooted fear of public speaking and social interaction. What was once a seriously petrifying notion, where even a thought invoked the “fight or flight” response, is now something I enjoy.

I revisited the painful memories until they weren’t painful. I rationalized the beliefs I had about it and told myself just how much I loved public speaking in public. I gave my mind new pictures to see and proved that if you really will yourself to change, you can. This is an important part of intentional living.

I got up in front of 60 people and did a cross-examination (ex-lawyer here), and I genuinely enjoyed it. It made me realize that achieving your goals is absolutely possible, despite what a lot of people believe.

Action: Think about something you’d like to change in your life. Is it a behavior you wish you didn’t have or a belief that’s holding you back? Writing is a great way to sort through it all, and once you’ve identified them, keep reading.

3. Your Mind Doesn’t Know the Difference Between What Is Real or Imagined

Right now, I want you to imagine that you’re cutting a slice of lemon. See that freshly cut, juicy lemon in your mind right now.

Smell it, and notice that it’s a really juicy one. The acidic juices are dripping as you cut into it. Now, picture yourself biting straight into it. Close your eyes and picture that acidic, fresh juice seeping all through your mouth.

Salivating yet?

This is a simple but effective demonstration of the fact that your thoughts can bring about physical reactions because your mind thinks that you’ve actually eaten a lemon.

Now, think about what your mind is doing when you’re catastrophizing situations, constantly reliving negative events, or picturing the worst things happening. According to Dr. Dispenza’s You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter, your mind doesn’t know the difference.

It feels like it’s actually happening so your body reacts the same way. This is how we get burnout, adrenal fatigue from too much cortisol, and a constant state of fight or flight.

“If you want to dream big, you have to dream in great detail.” –Mike Tomlin

When you visualize where you want to be, how you want to feel, the presentation you have to give, or the conversation you want to have in a positive light, your body and mind will act as though it’s happening. Later, it’’ll be primed to do what you mentally rehearsed when the time comes.

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Action: Picture what you want, see it often, and see it in great detail.

4. Your Mind Doesn’t Always Know What’s Best

I came across a conflicting belief I had when I was overcoming social anxiety. The issue was that what I wanted to do and what my mind thought it needed to do were two different things.

I wanted to interact with people and feel comfortable speaking in groups, but my mind kept trying to keep me away from what it assumed was going to be a painful experience. This is because it was painful for me as a kid when I was bullied, so my body would go into fight or flight and cause me intense anxiety to help me escape the situation.

My beliefs guided my thoughts, so my thoughts guided my actions, and my actions shaped me into a shy and self-conscious person who wasn’t good at public speaking.

Your mind’s job is to keep you away from harm and pain, but sometimes it’ll make you shy away from the things you really want to do to keep you “safe.”[4] Living an intentional life does not mean being 100% safe. Sometimes, you have to take risks, too.

Action: Look for inconsistencies, things you wish you could do but don’t feel comfortable or able to do, and aim to align yourself through goal setting.

5. It Doesn’t Take Years to Change a Behavior or Belief

The reason “talk therapy” takes a lot longer than we’d like is that communication isn’t happening at the most effective brain wave frequency. It’s your subconscious mind that holds the negative beliefs and habits.

So naturally, when we get onto the same frequency (alpha and theta brain waves[5]), we can communicate more effectively with this part of our mind. It sticks quicker and, when guided, it can give us the answers we can’t access at a conscious level.[6]

Action: Open your mind to subconscious methods of reprogramming, whether it’s a guided recording on YouTube or with a hypnotherapist, and know that you can change without losing years of your life trying.

6. Your Mind Will Believe Negative Things Over Positive Things

If you’ve never heard of the negativity bias, you will no doubt have experienced its effects.

Remember a time where someone said something critical or mean about you. Even though you did several positive things that day, or received more compliments, did you find it was really hard to get that one negative thing out of your head?[7]

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Negativity bias can hurt intentional living

    It’s not an exact science, but your mind needs significantly more positives to counter a negative.

    Action: Actively work on reinforcing the positive when you hear negative comments or feel negative thoughts. Know that you can turn it around, but your mind is geared negatively, so you’ve got to practice this skill. Knowing this is key to intentional living.

    7. Your Mind Believes the Things You Tell It

    This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you tell yourself you’re worthless or stupid, your mind will believe that to be true.

    If you tell yourself you love being confident, you feel calm, and you can achieve whatever you want, it will believe that, too (though it will need to hear that more often because of the negativity bias, remember!). That’s why if you want to live intentionally, you have to consider the things you tell yourself.

    Action: Consider the words you say to yourself every day. Decide who you want to be and tell yourself that’s exactly who you are. Watch how you change.

    8. Your Beliefs Are Often Irrational and Harmful

    Did you know that when children experience family violence, their brains have similar patterns of activity as soldiers that have fought in a war?[8]

    If you suffered trauma, bullying, or abuse as a child, the chances are that your subconscious mind formed irrational beliefs before your logical mind developed. If you let them, these beliefs could be running your entire life.[9]

    But when you identify, rationalize, and re-visit these beliefs, you can change them. Unless you revisit these beliefs as an adult, you could risk living your life based on irrelevant things that hurt your younger self.

    Action: Reflect on those tough life moments—the ones that are often hard to think about but the ones that may have shaped you. Work through it with a therapist, or write it all down so you can start to question and rationalize what you believed to be true. Reflection is an important aspect of intentional living.

    9. Your Mind Defaults to What Is Familiar

    We are creatures of habit. We love doing what we know because it’s relatively certain. Uncertainty and unfamiliarity are uncomfortable.

    However, sometimes what is familiar to you isn’t good for you. The familiar eating patterns you have, the negative thought loops you’re stuck in, the self-deprecation, the anxious feelings, the overreactions—all of these things we do out of habit but not necessarily because we want to.

    The good news is that you can make the familiar unfamiliar, but new habits that really stick are those that sit at an identity level (i.e. you can’t beat yourself up for not reaching your goal of losing 10 lbs (an outcome) when you don’t identify with being a fit and healthy person (your identity)).[10] You must identify with what you’re trying to change, or it won’t stick.

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    Action: Imagine you could watch yourself throughout the day and notice whether the things you’re doing are because you want to or if you’re doing it because it’s comfortable. Look for clues, particularly if you feel guilty, sad, angry, or annoyed after a thing you eat or say or do.

    10. You Are Not Your Thoughts

    “Rather than being your thoughts and emotions, be the awareness behind them.” –Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

    Based on the preceding facts I’ve listed about your mind, you now know that your mind believes what you tell it. It can be physically affected by your thoughts, and it can shape your entire reality.

    If you can notice your thoughts, let them flow in and out, keep the ones that help you, and let go of the ones that don’t, you’ll reach a level of mind control that very few can reach.

    It starts by getting quiet, calm, and doing whatever makes you focused and happy, like running, meditation, walking, or listening to music. This will help guide you toward intentional living

    Action: Become aware of your own negative thought loops and practice letting them go or just noticing them rather than giving in to them, believing them straight away, and reacting.

    Final Thoughts

    I hope these 10 facts help you as much as they have helped me and my clients. These are not guaranteed to make you live intentionally, but they will definitely help you live life on your terms.

    And finally, watch this interview with Antonio Neves to learn more about how to stop living on autopilot:

    Remember, you aren’t responsible for the negative things that you heard or experienced in your life, but you are most definitely responsible for changing them.

    More on Intentional Living

    Featured photo credit: Brad Pearson via unsplash.com

    Reference

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    Daina Worrall

    Lawyer, C. Hypnotherapist and RTT Therapist - Personal Development & Mental Health

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    Last Updated on January 12, 2021

    7 Practical Ways to Change Your Thinking and Change Your Life

    7 Practical Ways to Change Your Thinking and Change Your Life

    Changing your mindset is no easy task, but having an open and positive mindset is a game changer. Your personal growth is what propels the choices you make for your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Just something as simple as changing your thinking can change your life.

    Importance of Mindset Work

    There’s great importance in spending time doing mindset work. Within this period, we begin to understand ourselves, and through that understanding, we become more compassionate and patient with ourselves.

    Our society and culture thrive on the busyness that life brings not only into our lives but even to our dinner table. With that comes some consequences of using “band-aid” solutions and quick remedies to get through particular blocks in our lives. Those solutions never last long and it’s about committing the time and effort to slow down, ground ourselves, and reshift our focus.

    Changing your thinking is not only to be more optimistic but giving your mind the breathing room it needs to grow and expand. It’s about looking at everything that hasn’t worked for you and being open to other ways that might.

    How to Change Your Thinking and Change Your Life

    Here are 11 practical ways to change your thinking:

    1. Show up

    Not feeling the gym? Go anyway. Don’t feel like playing the piano after making a commitment to practice every day? Do it and play.

    The payout of showing up and committing goes a long way. It builds confidence, and with that growth, your mindset begins to change.

    Of course, showing up may not always be fun but by meeting these small goals on your list allows you to tackle on the bigger ones that may seem far out of reach.

    2. Find an Anchor

    We all need an anchor, or in other words, we all need something to believe in when our thoughts are wavering. Whether you are religious, have a spiritual connection with a higher power, or have someone who grounds you – hold onto it.

    My dad first introduced me to the Law of Attraction when I was 17 and to be completely honest, I thought it was silly and never gave it much thought. Fast forward ten years and the Law of Attraction has become so integrated into my daily life that it’s become the anchor in my belief system. That anchor is also what propels me to be a better version of myself. It’s a light at the end of the tunnel when I have convinced myself that light does not exist.

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    The purpose of an anchor is to ground you when your mind and/or external factors come weighing you down. It’s about having faith and trust in that one thing or power when everything else seems to go dark. This is one of the most important things you need to have if you want to begin to change your mindset.

    3. Ask Why

    It’s really that simple. In order to change your thinking, you have to dig deeper into what it is that’s causing a reaction.

    • Why does it bother me that another person took the parking slot that I was waiting for?
    • Why do I feel uneasy when I dine at a restaurant alone?
    • Why do I feel happy after I purchase a new outfit?

    We ask “why” to a lot of external factors, but very rarely we ask that about ourselves. It’s also a way to get to know yourself as if getting to know a friend.

    As we begin to answer these questions, we realize that it’s not the external factors that bring happiness, sadness, guilt, or joy, and it’s more about understanding our own values.

    Now, have a conversation with yourself and reflect on your answers when you do ask these “whys.”

    For example:

    The reason why I’m irritated at this person for taking my parking slot is that I’m busy and have endless errands to run. I don’t have time to be looking for another slot.

    Reflection: how am I managing my time and are these time restrictions causing me unnecessary stress? I should prioritize my errands so I don’t feel overwhelmed.

    The reason why I feel uneasy when I dine in at a restaurant alone is that I don’t want people to think I have no friends.

    Reflection: I care a lot of what people think of me including strangers and it affects my emotional well-being. I don’t have these thoughts when I see another person eating alone, so why and when did I start having this opinion about myself? I should start dining out alone so I can learn how to step out of my comfort zone.

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    The reason why I feel great after purchasing a new outfit is is that I feel confident.

    Confidence is key because it determines how I show up when I meet strangers, clients, and overall how I carry myself. How do I maintain this confidence without splurging on a new outfit everytime I need that extra boost? I could wear my glasses or carry a book with me to help me play that part.

    Having these mindful yet straightforward conversations with yourself are simple ways you can change your thinking. Reflection is the key to understanding your strong and weak points.

    Here is also a great article on the power of self-reflection and ten questions you should ask yourself.

    4. Step out of Your Comfort Zone

    As mentioned above, we all have a comfort zone. Like a turtle, we feel cozy and safe inside our shell, but to change your thinking, one must be willing to step out of that shell no matter how much that shell feels like home.

    Our mindset will only begin to change if we allow ourselves to be exposed to the possibilities of change. Stepping out of your comfort zone can be one of the hardest things you can do, but it all goes back to building your confidence.

    Some of the most significant friendships I have to date is all thanks to the five seconds I decided to step out of my comfort zone, introduce myself, and carry a converastion.

    Strive to learn something new every day – even if it makes you feel a bit uncomfortable at first.

    Still wondering how to step out of your comfort zone? Take a look at this article:

    Is It Really Better to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone?

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    5. Look at Things from a Different View

    I once asked a friend what self-love meant to her. She answered, “self-love means being a parent to yourself.”

    I was never expecting that answer, but it got me the wheels in my mind exploring other definitions of what self-love could mean to others and myself.

    Changing your thinking also means being open to other opinions, especially if it challenges your own. You’ll begin to realize that the more mindset work you dive into, the more you will be approaching new opinions and ideas from a grounding and calming place. Things that used to have you on your defense will slowly turn into a question of curiosity instead.

    6. Slow Down

    Here’s the thing. You take the same route to work and leave your house at the same time. While on you are getting off the highway, you stop by your favorite coffee shop to order your daily brew, then you’re out the door and heading straight to the office.

    During this daily routine, have you ever noticed the color of the corner building right before you get off the highway? Or have you noticed whether your barista is left-handed or right-handed?

    Probably not, because most of the time we tend to live our lives on auto-pilot.

    Science says we make about 35,000 decisions a day;[1] therefore it makes sense that half the time our minds are on auto-pilot. There are great setbacks that come from having this “auto switch” including having those feelings of mindlessly scrolling through your phone or being so deep in your thoughts that you are mentally checked out.

    One way to change your mindset is slowing down. When you slow down, you begin to find yourself in the same tune and vibrations as the world around you. You begin to become aware of what resonates with you and what doesn’t. You start becoming present.

    If you want to change your life, you must be present in the life you are currently living in. By being present, you begin to shift to a state of gratitude.

    7. Eliminate the Excuses and Create Solutions

    How often do we use the word “but?”

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    For instance, “I want to eat healthier but I’m so busy that I can’t meal prep,” “I want to buy a new car but I’m still paying off some of my debt,” “I would like to start my own business but I don’t have the time or finances for that.”

    Now eliminate the “but” and imagine how you would feel if these external factors weren’t much of an issue.

    This is a simple but powerful technique in changing your thinking. It’s all about tapping into those emotions and eliminating the roadblocks that we spend so much energy focusing on. Instead, begin shifting your focus from the but’s and toward the “how’s.”

    Here’s some nice advice for you:

    How to Stop Making Excuses and Get What You Want

    The Bottom Line

    Changing your mindset is a work in progress and one that should be eye-opening as it is rewarding. It’s about getting to know yourself on a deeper level and creating a friendship with yourself along the way.

    There’s no one solution fits all, but it all comes down to taking that first step.

    More Resources About Living a Fulfilling Life

    Featured photo credit: Clay Banks via unsplash.com

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