We all want to make changes in our lives. Whether it’s to eat healthier, become more physically fit, work smarter, or connect better with other people, we all want to change and improve something about ourselves. (Often multiple somethings.) The problem is, the changes we want to make are never easy and the results don’t happen overnight.

So we try and we fail. We say it didn’t work. We say this is just the way we are. And we accept defeat.

But what if we didn’t have to accept defeat?

What if we really could change?

What if we really could be exactly the people we want to be?

We can.

We don’t have to be slaves to our circumstances, our habits, or anything else in our lives. We may not be in control of everything that happens to us, but we are in control of how we respond to what happens. We are in control of ourselves, if we choose to be.

We are in control of ourselves if we choose to be.

So, do you want to change? Really change? Then there’s one thing you have to do.

How Reframing Your Mindset Puts You Back in Control

If you want to change, then you must reframe your mindset. So often when we initiate change in our lives, we think about all the things we should be doing – but we forget about one key thing:

We forget to terminate the habits we shouldn’t be doing. We forget to stop doing the things that hold us back from who we want to be.

If you want to stop fighting with your kids, then you must first stop screaming. If you want to communicate better with your coworkers, then you must first stop shutting them out. If you want to become an improved version of yourself, then you must stop engaging in behaviors you don’t like.

Before we can make any positive changes in our lives, we must first stop doing the things that aren’t working. Then we can begin to create new, more positive habits.

I’ve built a career on helping adults and kids connect, so let’s start with a parent-child example to help you understand what I’m talking about:

Let’s say you have a teenager at home and the two of you have been prone to screaming matches. When it’s happening, you’re probably angry and annoyed, and wondering, “Why does it always come to this? I don’t want to yell. Why do I always yell?”

You yell because you’re provoked. You yell because you feel frustrated. You yell because you don’t feel like you’re being heard. But guess what, your teen doesn’t feel like they’re being heard either. And that’s why they yell.

It’s a vicious cycle.

Want to end the cycle of yelling? It’s simple: refuse to yell.

When I say simple, I mean it’s conceptually simple. Easy to say, not always easy to do. But it is truly the most effective tool you have. If you want to stop yelling, if you want to connect with your teen, then you must refuse to engage in this type of counter-productive communication, no matter how frustrated or angry you are.

It all starts with a reframing of your mindset. In the scenario above, your mindset is stuck in react mode. You react instinctively, which leads to yelling. But if you can switch your mindset to one where you respond thoughtfully, rather than react instinctively, you won’t yell. What you will do is take control of situation and get the two of you back on track.

How You Can Reframe Your Mindset

Being in control sounds nice, doesn’t it? No one wants to feel like a slave to their impulses. And you really don’t have to be.

When you reframe your mindset from reacting to responding, you will be in control. Let’s go back to the example above:

You and your teen are in conversation. You can feel the tension rising and brace yourself for the screaming match. This time though, something’s different. Knowing you need to respond rather that react, you remind yourself to look down at your hand. You use your five fingers to remind yourself to take 5 deep breaths. This pause gives you a few seconds to think clearly, stop those adrenaline levels from climbing, and focus on keeping your tone even.  

From there, you can start the conversation over. You model a more productive way to communicate by keeping calm.  Even if you’re angry and frustrated, if you express those feelings without yelling, your teen may actually hear what you have to say and vice versa.

If your teen yells anyway, stay calm and set the rules. Tell them you’ll give them a second to calm down and compose themselves and that you’re willing to listen, but only if they communicate in a productive way. If they can’t calm down, explain that you’re walking out of the room to avoid an argument that will only make both of you angrier and that you’ll be glad to revisit the conversation when they’re ready to talk.

In this situation, you’ve actively avoided the behavior you wanted to change: the screaming. Instead of reacting, you thoughtfully responded and you’ve modeled for your teen the behavior you think is most productive and beneficial to both of you.

Now that’s being the change.

When it comes to living out the change we’ve been desiring forever, we simply can’t do it if we’re stuck in the same mindset we’ve been in for so long. Think about it this way — the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. Does this sound like what you’ve been living?

If you want to change, you need to reframe your mindset. Stop reacting to life and start responding to it. Remember, you’re not in control of everything that happens to you, but you are in control of how you respond to what happens to you.

When you reframe your mindset and live this change every day, you’ll see results. While the road isn’t always easy – and it certainly isn’t short – it will get you to where you want to be. And isn’t that so worth it in the end?

Image Credit: Vladimir Kudinov