Creating a contented adult life is not easy, but it's possible.
A healthy mindset is important in adult life, but how do you authentically embrace a mindset that creates contentment? In Part 2 of this three-part series, we'll look at how to deal with more of the difficult thoughts that, if left untapped, can destroy your own contentment and joy.
In Part One, we looked at:
- freely examining your “truths”.
- recognizing inadvertent sabotage.
- healthy responsibilities.
- your personal business.
Ideas 5 – 8 enhance your healthy mindset when you feel disappointed, fear trying something new, or experience loneliness and anger.
5. Are other people consistently disappointing you? It's time to look at inner fear and grief.
Don't people just make you mad sometimes? They don't give you credit for what you do. Emails are left unanswered. Your birthday was missed. It's been a year since they agreed to meet for lunch. The list goes on and on. No matter how real these complaints may be, they seldom present as an adult problem unless there are innocent parts of you that feel afraid or are grieving. Of course you don't feel like you have a healthy mindset in these situations!
When you hold fear and/or grief in your body, it takes very little to be hurt by other's lack of attention. Your mindset becomes one of lack. This is not abnormal at all. But you can benefit your adult self by getting to know the parts of you that feel afraid or sad rather than blasting or ignoring the person who is the recipient of your disappointment.
6. When something new feels “wrong,” assess it.
It's tough to live in the unknown. In fact, researchers have called fear of the unknown (FOTU) a fundamental human fear. And although you try to establish a predictable life complete with home, family, job, or whatever feels normal for you, growth in adult life has everything to do with the unknown.
Truth is, trying new ideas, being open to new experiences and learning (all unknowns) are arguably a source of contentment and a healthy mindset in adult life. In a 2018 article published in the Journal of Adult Development, researchers identified that risk taking may be valued as a way to create opportunities during young adulthood, a means to capitalize on those opportunities in middle adulthood, and as a strategy for managing resources and well-being in late adulthood.
How can you enrich your healthy mindset when you are faced with negative or fearful thoughts and sensations about something new? Avoid knee-jerk reactions, which tend to be fear-based and not terribly accurate. Spend time with all of your thoughts and feelings on the subject. Allow yourself to imagine what something new feels like, means to you and how you might feel after you've made your decision. In this way, you create a more positive mindset toward novelty.
Some new ideas will prove to be poor choices and others wonderful new opportunities. But if you can't slow down and look them over, you'll most always miss the mark.
7. If you feel extremely lonely, it's time to adjust your relationship to life to change your mindset.
Humans are social beings. We thrive best in community. Even so, it is important to have time to be alone. How you view and experience this time alone will make all the difference in your level of contentment. This part of your healthy mindset grows when you embrace all of who you are while being willing to support yourself in new ways.
When you are consistently stuck in loneliness (a hard place to be), it's time to reorient yourself in space (literally and figuratively). Say for example you are in a full restaurant but you got the seat facing the wall. You might feel completely different than if you were seated facing the crowd. Since we can't always choose where we land in life, it is important to work with your inner world to create as many consistent supports as possible inside and out.
A healthy mindset is so import when you experience loneliness. Give yourself permission to examine your beliefs about why you are lonely and also the permission to be sometimes “ridiculously optimistic” about any and all interactions you have with humans or other loving beings. Interpretation is important here. For those of us with pessimistic parts and fear of being seen and valued, it is a big ask to accept that you are loved in a bountiful universe. But even the tiniest glimpse of that sensation, real or imagined, shifts your mindset to feel contented and supported in adult life.
8. Consistent anger may indicate a lack of boundaries, but boundaries should not be delivered through anger.
Anger is sometimes a motivator and always a protector. When someone (or something) consistently makes you angry, look to see if a part of you feels hurt, embarrassed or injured by this person in some way. If so, a boundary is likely in order. However, boundaries created by someone who is aware of and takes ownership of angry parts and boundaries created by anger itself look and feel very different. Creating a contented adult mindset requires careful examination here.
Karen C. L. Anderson, author of Difficult Mothers, Adult Daughters, says “Negative emotions don’t “do” anything other than make you feel…chronically bad…when you have healthy boundaries, you get to feel all kinds of other amazing emotions like calm, relief, autonomy, equanimity, joy, pride, love, and compassion.”
To live a full, contented adult life, it's important to respect the parts of you that are hurting and to let them see that your own calm boundary (physical and emotional) can keep them safe from future attack. Healthy boundaries happen through self care. You deserve the fullness of all feelings. When one becomes out of balance, it signals there is more for you to explore.
“Going in” and discovering the parts of you that need attention proves important in each idea above.
There are many ways to be in tune with your inner world. Consider creating a new habit to help you on your quest to be a contented adult. Take a moment each day to become aware of your breath. Notice how and where you feel emotions and direct sincere curiosity to sensations in your body and mind.
In Part 3, I discuss what to do when you feel stuck, disillusioned, in conflict or lost.
Remember, no part of you is ever trying to harm you. You are worthy of compassion and contentment. And you are more than you know.
For more ideas, check out my book – Calm Your Worries: Unlock Your Secret Code to Lasting Stress Relief & Self-Confidence.