written by
Srinivas Rao

Kara Loewentheil: How to Redesign Your Mind

3 min read

These are cliff notes from an episode of The Unmistakable Creative Podcast

We all probably heard from one self-help resource or another that our thinking and our mindset determine the quality of our lives. That may be true, but we also know that changing our mindsets and ingrained thought patterns can be anything but easy. Kara Loewentheil did a lot of work in this area and joined Srini to discuss specific strategies on redesigning your mind. This is an excellent interview with many a-ha moments and below are some key takeaways.

1. Kara used to be a lawyer and worked in a public justice system. These skills came in handy in her coaching career, because the law school and layer career develop specific thinking skills that help deconstruct the arguments and identify flaws in logic and thinking.

2. Kara worked a lot with minorities and people from the unprivileged circumstances. She thinks that we should strive to create more justice on a system level, she also thinks that unprivileged people can benefit greatly from learning to regulate their emotions and change their thought patterns. The work on easing the injustice should be both internal and external.

3. One thing Kara observed in her first coaching clients, most of whom were lawyers, is that in this profession there is a high burnout rate. People are fighting really hard to achieve external milestones and metrics of success. Yet, no work is done on generating inner satisfaction and joy and people end up on this perpetual treadmill of proving their worth, chasing external success, and failing to reach lasting satisfaction.

4. Important influences on our lives are that of social conditioning and of our own negative self-talk. We often believe in some greater ideals (say we identify as feminists or environmentalists) but at the same time, we are constantly bombarded with various messages of social conditioning that we gradually internalize. That way, subconsciously we often hold opposing and conflicting beliefs that create a cognitive dissonance.

5. The reason many people do not make progress in personal development and achieve lasting inner peace is the fear of facing scary thoughts and negative emotions. We are treating our own minds as dangerous neighborhoods we do whatever we can to avoid. Nowadays, there is no shortage of numbing methods (drugs, alcohol, TV, social media) so we never have to feel our negative emotions if we don't want to. Yet, that is a trap.

6. Kara worked with many high achievers and she witnessed that people usually can make a good progress in one area of their lives but get stuck in another. People interested in personal development are rarely clueless and starting from a ground zero. Yet, a lot of personal development efforts are the efforts to fix ourselves, to achieve more, and earn our own self-worth. That is another trap. The work on self-acceptance is the key to lasting change and inner joy.

7. A major component of Kara's work is dismantling of thought patterns that make us miserable. These may come from social conditioning and our own beliefs. She does not suggest trying to change your thoughts 180 degrees at once, but rather to make small and subtle changes. For instance, instead of thinking: "I will never find love because I am overweight", an alternative thought that is easy to digest and prove can be: "Some overweight people are happily married."

8. Our brains do a great job of filtering all the inputs we are receiving; otherwise we would be overwhelmed. However, our brains are also biased such that they filter information to find the proof for the things we already believe in. When we uncover our beliefs and thought patterns, we can choose different ones that feel better and then ask our brains to go an a quest of searching proof for those beliefs. We often end up surprised to see that there is a plenty of evidence to support practically any belief, hence we have to choose our own wisely.

9. Changing thoughts and beliefs gets easier with time. Persistent and negative thought patterns that we have, we have probably repeatedly thought for years and decades. A new thought pattern cannot get installed after just one repetition. It is a process and it takes training. However, the more we practice it, the better we get and easier it becomes to see things differently and change.

10. To be unmistakable, according to Kara, you must to the inner work so that all you do comes from the place of authenticity.

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