Have you ever purchased a new (/used) car, only to drive it off the lot and then suddenly realize that everybody in your town seems to own the same car? The technical term for this is the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon (otherwise known as frequency illusion), and it can pretty much be applied to most new things you purchase (shoes, jackets, yoga mats, you name it) or things you become aware of (words, colours, smells, and so on). For example, it’s like when you realize that half of your class has the same winter boots that you just bought, or when you learn some new hip phrase, and you suddenly realize that everyone already uses it.
Basically, the idea is that once you start to focus on something (ie: your brand new blue Honda Civic), you begin to see that exact same thing crop up everywhere in your life because you’re paying more attention to/for it. It’s the same reason why some Jeep Wrangler owners feel like they’re lifting their hand up to wave at another Jeep Wrangler owner every 2 minutes (yes, the Jeep Wave is a real thing), meanwhile, someone driving a Ford F150 may not even notice a single Jeep Wrangler on the exact same drive. Or why your brother’s arm is black & blue after playing an intense round of punch buggy on the hour-long drive to your grandma’s house – when you’re purposely looking for Volkswagen Beetles so you can get your smack in before your brother gets his in, you’re more likely to see the bright pink one that’s off in the distance than your annoyed father who’s repeatedly telling you to be quiet while he drives.
We begin to see more of what we focus on, which is why our mindset matters so much.
Our mindset is made up of our thoughts and beliefs, so let’s go over the difference quickly. Experts say that we have anywhere from 50,000-80,000 thoughts per day, which is something you’ve probably noticed if you’ve ever meditated before. Silencing our brains to meditate, especially if we’re not used to it, can be a pretty difficult task as it can make us so much more aware of how much we actually think. I mean, let’s be real: sitting down to spend 5 minutes meditating in uninterrupted silence can quickly morph into an internal dialogue similar to the following:
“I wonder how long I’ve been sitting here for? I’m so glad I’m taking this time for myself, but I’ll need to remember to text Sally when I’m done to see how her surgery went last week. I can’t forget to pick up almond milk for my coffee on my way home from work. Crap, I’m not focused on meditating. Okay, silencing my brain….. now. Ugh, my back hurts – shoot, now I’m thinking about my achy breaky back. Don’t break my BACK, my achy breaky BACK – ha! I could definitely be one of those people who make parody songs for a living. Ugh, F-O-C-U-S. I wonder where the word focus comes from…”
Our beliefs, on the other hand, are essentially our core values. They’re generally a little harder to become aware of on a regular basis because they stem from our subconscious brain. They are, however, directly influenced by our thoughts. When you think something enough, deep down you’re going to start to believe it to be the truth, which means that subconsciously you’re going to start to prove yourself right.
To understand our mindset better, let’s combine thoughts and beliefs in a quick example. Let’s say that you’re single, and you’re getting super frustrated by the fact that every guy you talk to on Tinder either ghosts you or turns out to be a jerk, so you keep thinking to yourself “why are there no good guys out there? The only guys that like me are awful.” Eventually, you’re going to start to believe this to be the truth, which is basically just like your subconscious brain saying “whatever you say, boss – let’s go find some.”
There’s an old quote that goes “where attention goes, energy flows.” This means that when you believe that there are no good guys out there and you’re going to either be single forever or stuck dating the wrong people, you’re going to become more aware of all of the not so great bachelors out there, while completely overlooking all of the nice, amazingly, eligible mates when they present themselves. But when you reframe your thoughts to focus on the fact that the man of your dreams is out there, and you believe wholeheartedly that these not so great fellas have absolutely nothing to do with your ability to meet your future husband, then you’re more likely to see him with crystal clear vision when the time comes to meet him.
This same thought process can be applied to most things in your life: when you repeatedly tell yourself that you are stupid and school isn’t your strong suit, you’re going to believe that you’re never going to be good at school, and you will be less likely to spend your time studying to learn the difficult material, and more time playing video games or watching Netflix.
Our mindset matters because it shapes our reality.
When we center our thoughts around all of the amazing things that we want (such as meeting your future husband who treats you with respect or getting good grades in school) and we believe that we are worthy of all of the amazing things out there (confidently knowing that you are worthy of a great spouse because you will make great spouse too, or that you am worthy of good grades because you study hard and seek extra help when you don’t understand something), then you will be more likely to see opportunities when they present themselves.
Shifting our mindset on how we perceive the world has the ability to completely change our lives because it allows us to create the life we want to live, as opposed to living the life that we feel like we’re stuck with. At the end of the day, we’re only on this planet for such a short time – we owe it to ourselves to not only believe in ourselves but to believe that we are worthy of all the beautiful things that we desire.