We are not born with mindsets, they develop throughout our lives. But our fundamental mindsets develop during our childhood. For example, if our parents are nurturing and positive, the mindsets we develop will be nurturing and positive.
Conversely, if our parents are negative and discriminate, these bad influences color our mindsets and most likely affect us throughout the rest of our lives.
Of course, there are many other things in life that affect and build our mindsets during childhood: traumatic experiences, school, teachers, friends. If we’re lucky, we’ll end up and as well-adjusted teenagers/adults, but that’s not always the case, and for the most part, out of our control.
How often do you have thoughts or opinions that you know are wrong, but feel powerless to stop them? It is easy to hold onto a fundamental opinion, even when presented with irrefutable evidence to the contrary. For example, your hackles rise automatically when you see someone in the street from a certain religion or listen to a politician from a particular political party. Most likely these feelings and opinions arise from fundamental mindsets and early experiences.
I like the way that Buddhists describe mindsets, thoughts, and behaviors as seeds, planted in the subconscious. Water the bad seeds and they spring up and overwhelm the mind. Often you are not even aware of having watered the seed, it shoots up without warning.
So, how to change your mindset to positive and cope with the negative impact of these mindsets:
The thoughts and opinions that make a negative mindset are most often buried in the subconscious. A coping mechanism for this is to increase awareness of your thoughts. Try to catch the bad seed before it has had a chance to grow. At the same time mentally water positive seeds to alter your behavior. Head off the bad behavior, thought or action before it takes root. It is a challenging thing to do, as these seeds are embedded in your subconscious. It takes time and determination, but little by little, the bad seeds wither and die.
This is something that mediation can help with. Through regular meditation, focus on your thoughts, become more aware of how your mind works. The inner awareness that meditation engenders, makes you aware when these seeds start to grow. Think of it as an early warning system! The increased awareness that comes from meditation enables you to change your mindset by being aware when bad seeds are cultivated.