Back to Basics: How to Change Your Mindset with the ABC’s
If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change.
— Wayne Dyer
When I started out on my personal growth journey, the above quote by Wayne Dyer kept popping up. I saw it everywhere — books I was reading, articles I found online, instagram posts, and more. And even though I couldn’t escape the idea that our thoughts create our reality, I couldn’t wrap my head around it either.
Yes, it sounded so easy and great in theory. But to escape the woes of my daily life just by thinking about them in a new way? Isn’t this like putting on rose colored glasses and ignoring the truth? Or wishing something bad away and then poof — it’s gone? It was just too good to be true. And the New York City cynic in me wasn’t having any of it.
I wasn’t budging. I thought there was no way I could be wrong about this one. Nope, nuh-uh. Not me!
Spoiler alert: I was totally, unequivocally wrong (don’t you just love when that happens?).
Yep. Insert foot in mouth here.
But back to my story. Over time those gentle whispers from the universe to never underestimate the power of my thoughts got louder. And louder. Eventually they were full fledge screams, and I was forced to listen up — and listen good. I finally thought, “Well hell. What do I have to lose?”
So I tried it. I thought about all the things that were upsetting me to varying degrees — a friendship that went sour, my parents divorce, my frustration with work, and more — and questioned the story I was telling myself about each situation. What was fact, and what was fiction? Where was there wiggle room to shift the way I looked at things? Where and how could I pivot away from the plot line I’d crafted in my head and rewrite it with a better ending?
Taking on this approach of humble inquiry made me realize something.
Yes, we can transform seemingly finite life events into something new just by thinking about them in new ways.
But here’s the thing: it sure ain’t easy. It’s not as simple as throwing on a pair of those rose colored glasses or taking some happy pills and calling it a day. Honestly assessing how you’re looking at and thinking about something and then trying to shift it to something else is hard work. It takes time, and a lot of practice.
Because when you realize that shifting your thoughts shifts your reality, it also makes you realize that you have ownership over your life. That it’s no longer possible to blame your circumstances or what happened to you. That there’s always a way — no matter how small — for you to create positive shifts in your life. And even if the changes seem minimal at best in the moment, they have the potential to add up to something much bigger. The lasting impact is greater than the sum of its parts.
The work around changing our mindset takes time and dedication because it requires that we hold ourselves accountable. But even though it’s rarely a walk in the park, I promise you it’s worthwhile.
It wouldn’t be right of me to tell you this story, explain why it’s difficult to change your perspective and then call it a day. It’d feel like I cut and run, don’t you think?
So I want to share an easy, applicable tool I like to use with my clients when they’re trying to see a situation in a new way. It’s called ABC, which stands for action, belief, and consequence.
Let’s break it down.
A stands for action. As in the event that takes place. Or the trigger, so to speak.
B stands for belief. As in what you think as a result of said action.
C stands for consequence. As in the outcome, or the result.
And here’s an example to bring it to life:
Action = Getting an email from your boss asking about a project you’re working on.
Belief = She’s checking in on me because she doesn’t trust me or my ability to handle the work.
Consequence = You send back a snippy email that you immediately regret.
See, usually we skip from Action to Consequence without pausing in between. We assume that the action or event is the trigger, when there’s actually a thought or belief in between responsible for the outcome.
But our thoughts are actually the link between the two. They have an immediate, sneaky influence over our behavior. And more often than not it all happens so quickly that we don’t even notice it.
What if you changed the belief in between in the example above? How would this change the outcome and your view of the situation?
Try it out. Next time you react immediately to a situation or event, go back to basics. Pull out those ABC’s!
Ask yourself: What was I thinking in the moment I reacted? How did it affect my behavior and response?
Play with some different beliefs. See how many scenarios you can come up with. I bet you’ll come up with more than you’d expect.
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