December 12, 2019
HEALTHY GROWTH MINDSET PART TWO
In my last post—Healthy Growth Mindset Part One—I shared with you my personal experience in a significant relationship where I was struggling to attain the balance between conserving a sense of my authentic self and growing parts of me to keep love and harmony within the relationship. Prior to that relationship I had a strong grasp on who I was, but as with all of us humans, I was susceptible to the world around me that was filled with competition and relativity. Making me just as vulnerable to fear and self-doubt as anyone else.
This second part of my three-part series includes how I personally approach the concept of relativity as it applies to our lives, and some practical steps to accepting it. I also shared my personal detours I took along my growth journey, as well as how I got out of them to find a nice middle section of the road where growth can be mindfully attained in a healthy and realistic way. As always, I invite you to read this with an open mind and to accept what works within your life and leave what doesn’t. Let’s begin …
FIRST AND FOREMOST, BE ACCEPTANT OF REALITY
The first step on this beautiful journey of self-growth that I want to invite you all to take with me is to be acceptant of reality. We must accept the fact that the world is operated in the realm of relativity, thus comparison and competition will no doubt arise. It’s how the world operates, and there’s no sense in denying it or avoiding it.
The fact that we are aware of relativity doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to jump into the competitive dynamics of this world, rather we can choose our own battles in each area of our lives. What’s worth the battle to you might be different than what’s worth the battle to me. Let’s look at a few example areas where this might apply.
“Before we can begin to embark on any healthy growth JOURNEY, we must first Accept reality.”
— Mim Chawimon
IN CAREER AND SUCCESS: AN EXAMPLE OF ACCEPTING REALITY AND UNDERSTANDING RELATIVITY.
As an example, if you have a strong desire to land your dream job, get a promotion, or achieve a higher-paying salary, you would need to prepare for battle. Due to competition, you will need to work hard to beat out your competitors to achieve those rewards. Obviously, it’s not something that you will be able to achieve without putting in the effort.
To better understand relativity, let’s look at this example from another perspective:
If you were in your boss’s shoes, how would you decide who to give a raise to or who to give a promotion to? You wouldn’t give it to the person who has a negative attitude consistently, or who appears to be lazy. Nor would you give it to someone with little to no experience, or a brand-new employee. Instead, you’d offer these things to the associate(s) who works the hardest. This is relativity.
ROUTES THAT CAN IMPACT OUR MINDSET AND HAULT GROWTH.
How relativity applies in the context of a career is quite simple to grasp, things get a little messier when it comes to personal relationships where your identity is at stake.
In this significant relationship I shared with you earlier in Part One, I took two different extreme routes—the “external pressure” route and the “comfort zone guarding” route. The former route was where I took on external competitive dynamics as well as relativity as a whole upon myself.
Normally I’d be able to reason with myself and tell myself that there’s no such thing as a “perfect woman,” but unfortunately there is no such thing as logical reasoning when you’re on the “external pressure” route. The more I fell for my significant other, the faster I was navigating that route. I began getting more and more self-conscious.
“You can never be “more perfect.” there will always be someone in this world who is “more perfect” than you are in one aspect or another.”
— Mim Chawimon
I was never explicitly asked to measure myself against other women, but I could not deny the fact that there were other “options” if he wasn’t with me, so I feared losing him. I ended up feeling forced to take that route and it was the opposite of healthy. I was exhausted consistently.
At one of my breaking points, I realized I was trying to earn points to win a game that I would never have intentionally played in my life, but as the saying goes, love can make you blind. It almost felt like women were merely “products” needing to find best-selling points to get attention from men, and I needed to get more points to win my man.
That type of thought process and feeling still hurts me profoundly to this day, as it’s very disrespectful to women. Going through this experience myself has inspired me to voice this out, and make an impact on the issue. I feel a deep conviction to support and empower fellow women to love and respect themselves. That is NOT to say to compete with men, battle of the sexes is not what I am going for. Rather, it is to find a harmonious and complementary dynamic, where both genders bring valuable contributions and mutual respect can be found.
I have always had a healthy self-respect before this relationship, but when love played its spell, I turned into one of the love victims—struggling to make my man happy and love me—while retaining a sense of self and inner strength. The intention was pure but the result was devasting. At the end of that “external pressure” route, I was faced with a nearly complete breakdown of my self-esteem.
If you go down the “external pressure” route, the battle is endless. When you try to “find yourself” by benchmarking yourself against other external comparisons, this actually pushes you further away from your truth and who you really are.
When the “external pressure” route got too overwhelming in my relationship, I instinctively switched over to the completely opposite route. I was heading down the “comfort zone guarding”. Looking back, I think it was a survival mechanism I put into place to preserve my sense of self, to put my mind at ease, resting from the insecurities and battles. I tried to convince myself into thinking that prettier women, more successful women, smarter and wittier women were not a threat to my relationship. I tried to deny relativity and blocking all other women “out of the picture.”
What I soon realized was that the more I “guarded my comfort zone” or resisted external pressures, the pressure turned inwards and ironically built up anyway. In an attempt to avoid picking small trivial fights with my significant other and to conserve my self-esteem, I started to withdraw emotionally from the relationship for the pressure was too much to contain. It was like a crazy game of self-sabotage.
“Blocking out reality might seem like a safety net, and it might even work temporarily to provide a sense of peace of mind and assurance, but one day we still have to wake up to reality and deal with it. When we do, we should do it mindfully and gracefully.”
— Mim Chawimon
Neither of these defense routes were working for my relationship, and they definitely weren’t working for my personal healthy mindset.
FINDING THE “MIDDLE PATH” AND LEARNING HOW TO APPROACH IT.
Everything that I had been holding in while flip-flopping from one route to another was manifesting into something very unhealthy. At that point in my relationship, I had tried both of the unhealthy routes multiple times and nothing I was doing was working. But each of the struggles I encountered brought me closer and closer to finding out that another path existed…
The “middle path” lies between the “external pressure” route and the “comfort zone guarding” route. Instead of taking either of those routes, I needed to be walking down the “middle path” where my life was rooted in reality and choosing my own battles. Essentially to come back to “ME”.
“Coming back to my sense of “me” does not mean resisting change. rather, it means asking myself which growth path is worth fighting for and embarking on it mindfully and gracefully.”
— Mim Chawimon
There are likely numerous ways to approach the “middle path” in life, but this one has worked well for me. I’ve found this to be applicable to most other areas of my life beyond the significant relationship I had been struggling within.
To root in reality is to determine the context we live in. Objectively, honestly, and realistically ask ourselves if we are happy and comfortable with who we are and how we carry ourselves in that context we are living in. The next question to ourselves is what do we want to do about it?
It’s natural for us humans to feel empowered when we’re given a choice. So when we allow ourselves to make a conscious choice about the context we’re living in, the “middle path” becomes more clear and definable. It’s not hidden from our view behind external pressures and competitive dynamics anymore. Nor is it hidden behind denial.
Making a choice saves us from seeing ourselves as victims of situations, and putting us back on a driver seat to handle the situations mindfully.
COUNTERING OUR NEGATIVE SELF-TALK WITH MINDFULNESS
My personal “raw answer” to myself at one time in my relationship was definitely unhealthy. I didn’t give myself a choice by asking if I was happy and comfortable in my context. Instead, I would break down my self-esteem with negative thoughts like, “I’m not smart enough and I’m not beautiful enough.”
But upon my discovery of the middle path, I learned how unhealthy my “raw answer” was. And I learned how to counter my negative self-talk so that I didn’t land on any of the unhealthy routes again.
Take “I feel I am not beautiful enough,” as an example.
First, I had to accept that authentic answer was how I felt. I obviously said that I didn’t feel beautiful enough. That was my authentic truth at the time. I couldn’t deny it and say, “No, that isn’t true. I am beautiful enough!” While that might be an instinctual reaction, by denying it outright I would be heading down “the comfort zone guarding” route again. I would be in denial.
So, I discovered that rather than rejecting my “raw answer” right away, I could choose to mindfully pause and rephrase my “raw answer” into a kinder answer that held more positive words, while allowing me some room to grow.
“The key to countering negative self talk is by first accepting and honoring the reality of our feelings, and then handling it mindfully with grace and kindness.”
— Mim Chawimon
In the case of my “raw answer,” I would say something like this to myself— “I am pretty, but I do feel that I could be and would like to be prettier. I want to age gracefully.”
Growth from a trajectory like my example above is based on a neutral – positive mindset, versus a mindset that’s already in the red and has a major deficit. These types of answers allow us to be more forgiving of our own flaws, while allowing room for positive growth. It gives the internal pressure a positive outlet to move forward with!
Once I took the driver seat of my life back and my self-esteem was fully restored, that was when I felt “fully alive” again, ready to fully participate in all what life has to offer. I restored a healthy relationship with “Growth” – growth rooted in reality, positivity, freewill and compassion – leaving a fear-and-control-based growth path behind.
I hope this post, and my series on Healthy Growth Mindset has been helpful to you. In my next post—which will also be my final post on the topic—I will be going over what happens when our positive thoughts are being challenged by external circumstances, leaving us once again with self-doubt. As well as a few more key tips on growing a healthy mindset 😊
Until next time!