A Mindset Shift that Transformed My Life

Oct 24, 2016

Change Life Lessons Perspective Mindset
woman holding white petaled flowers

Photo by averie woodard

It was only the second week into the year-long women’s bible study. We were going to study Job. I had been looking forward to it for a while. It was a new church and I didn’t know any of the women. I saw it as a fresh start, a leap of faith. But only two weeks in and I was ready to call it quits. I wasn’t “feeling” it nor the group I was in; I have my HSP-ness to thank for that.

Sometimes we don’t realize we have any expectations until they are not met. I was hoping for more depth and connection, a space to discuss the difficult things in a faith walk. And all I felt I was getting out of the bible study was a dry, worksheet type discussion that had the ring of a doctor’s appointment Q&A instead of a meaningful conversation around the topics. I left both times feeling more frustrated than fulfilled.

Perhaps I judged too quickly. Developing relationships takes time, after all. But I had made up my mind that I wasn’t getting much out of it and decided to do the rest of the study on my own.

Isn’t that so often how we enter into experiences? With the mentality of “what can I get out of this? What’s in it for me?” It’s human nature to be self-centered. Unless you have surpassed that stage and entered into a more enlightened one, you remain thinking how something will benefit you.

For me personally, most of what I entered into — relationships, jobs, workshops, meetings, classes, bible studies — was driven by that mentality. It often still is today. And yet I found myself disappointed and discontent time and time again.

It wasn’t until I was blessed to receive a shift in thinking that I began to be more appreciative and my experiences changed. It was a shift from “what can I get” to “what can I give?” There is a transformative power in approaching life this way. Instead of trying to see what we can get from people, situations, and experiences, we challenge ourselves by considering what we can offer, provide, or bring.

The beautiful thing I love about this shift in perspective is how applicable it is to so many areas of our life — home, family, work, friends, community, church, organizational groups, and so on.

It’s akin to John F. Kennedy ‘s appeal: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

The more we ask the question “what can I offer?” in place of “what can I get?” — the more we’ll tap into our own vast well of resources and talents. We find we have way more to offer than we thought possible. Even in a crowded room where we may feel invisible, we can offer up a silent prayer, a smile, or a positive affirmation.

The more I practice this, the quicker my attitude shifts from one of dissatisfaction and entitlement to one of compassion and generosity. But I’m human, I can’t always make this shift; often I stubbornly refuse. Hence why it’s a practice.

Try it for yourself. See if you can catch yourself in the thought “what’s in it for me?” and gently shift into the mindset “what can I offer?” instead. It takes much of the weight of disappointment and self-interest off our shoulders.