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karen allen

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The One Thing You Need For Personal Growth

What if I told you there’s one thing you need for personal growth?

Yup, you heard me right.

One thing that will get you started on the path, ready to take the first step on your journey to becoming the person you’ve always intended to be.

In order to grow into the best version of yourself, you need…


That’s right. You don’t need iron-clad persistence or an unshakeable mindfulness practice or a genius-level IQ.

To get started, the only thing you need is a mindset that allows you to believe that growth is possible. That living a life grounded in inner peace, joy, and grit is achievable. That all the pieces necessary are already within you. You just need to recognize your thought patterns and develop a toolkit that allows you to draw on all the strength you already possess.

When I use the term “open mind,” I’m talking about creating expansion within yourself, within your mind. Having an open mind means making space to grow in all directions, to flourish. It means believing that you have the capacity to build your toolbox by connecting with new people, new ideas, and new ways of thinking and doing.

When I say that personal growth requires an open mind, I mean it requires you to cultivate a mindset that allows you to stay flexible and curious and inquisitive and hopeful.

But here’s the trick…

Becoming open-minded isn’t a switch that you can just decide to flip on one day. If it were that easy, I think most of us would turn it on and never look back. We all want to approach life with the internal space we need to make decisions from a place of composure and clarity, but we’ve also got internal narratives that trip us up and get in our way.

We question whether we are strong enough, capable enough, persistent enough to make real changes in our lives.

We tell ourselves, “Oh, no, that mindfulness stuff is not for me. My brain doesn’t work that way.”

We get caught up in old coping mechanisms and can’t seem to figure out how to get unstuck.

So we need to develop open-mindedness over time, through our reactions to the big and small challenges that we encounter every day. That mental strength training helps us stay present so when a new opportunity for growth shows up, we can see it with clarity and approach it with confidence. It helps us grow with the flow instead of letting negative thoughts and emotions shut us down.

Here’s the good news, friend...

You can cultivate an open mind. You can learn to stop negative thought cycles in their tracks and shift into a mindset that allows you to focus on what you can control.

In fact, when I teach my mental training technique, Stop & Shift, that’s really what I’m teaching. I help people learn to train their brains so that they can rise to all of life’s challenges.

Stop & Shift helps cultivate that open mind you’ll need to continue to grow.


Oh man, I’m so glad you asked! Let’s take it one step at a time.

When I say Stop, I don’t mean, “Hey, knock it off!” Because, listen, I’m really not into toxic positivity. I’m here for real joy and peace and gratitude. And honestly, lots of times getting there means walking through some really heavy stuff.

Stop isn’t a command; it’s an invitation.

When you Stop, you consciously notice that voice in your head; you hear it, acknowledge it, and really listen to what it’s saying.

Stop means learning to create distance between your mind and your thoughts.

Can I nerd-out for a minute here? In psychology, that’s called “cognitive diffusion.” It’s a fancy word that describes the moment when you can see your thoughts as something separate from you, rather than becoming so tangled up that you can’t see beyond them.

Imagine standing in room with your thoughts. (I know, that can be a scary vision, right?)

Those negative thoughts are right up in your face, yakking at you and waving their arms and demanding your attention. They’ve latched on to you, and it’s tough to see anything else.

Now picture yourself taking a big ol’ step back from them.

The thoughts didn’t disappear, right? They’re still there, a couple of feet away. They might still be hollering at you. But you’ve opened up some space so that you can really see them;

you can take in all the details and think about what they’re trying to tell you.

That space, right there? That’s what I’m talking about when I say that personal growth takes an open mind. When you practice Stop regularly, you learn to take one giant step back from the internal narrative that’s playing in your mind. That space you’ve opened gives you the opportunity to decide whether those thoughts are worth engaging.

You’re cultivating an open mind, one with the space to choose where you put your attention.

And that’s pretty amazing. But we can’t just stop there. Because once we recognize our thoughts, what do we do with them? Well, that’s when we Shift.

When I say Shift, I don’t mean, “Hey, if you’ve got scary, overwhelming thoughts chasing you down, just ignore them. Just think about something else—anything else!” Because let’s face it, stuffing down negative thoughts is exhausting.

(And at some point, you start to run out of spaces to shove them. And when you do? Hooo boy, they will start to spill out in really unhealthy ways—stress, anger, dissatisfaction.)

Stop is about learning to step away from your negative internal narratives. Shift is about learning to recognize those negative thought patterns for what they are, and then learning how to counter them—creating new patterns that you practice until they start to become the default path your brain takes.

And, just to put my nerd hat back on again—that’s a real, scientifically studied thing! It’s called neuroplasticity, and let me tell you, it’s powerful stuff. See when you stop a negative thought cycle and shift to a positive one, your brain actually starts creating new neural connections.

The more you practice Shift, the stronger that new, more positive pathway becomes. It can literally change the structure of your brain! (Listen, man, did I not tell you that you were POWERFUL?)

Let’s go back to that room where we were hanging out with our thoughts. They’re hooting and hollering at you, and you just took a big step back and started to look at them from a distance.

And when you really start to look, you might notice some thoughts that you recognize. Thoughts that seem to keep creeping up in lots of different situations. After a while of practicing Stop, that pattern is going to start becoming clearer and clearer.

You know that thought pattern is holding you back, and you want to let it go. But how? Maybe you decide to sit down with that thought and explain why it’s illogical. Maybe you decide to walk to the other side of the room and start chatting with a different thought instead. Maybe you just watch that thought ranting and raving for a while until it gets tired of talking and takes a seat.

Whatever solution you choose, you’re creating space to allow that thought an exit, a path to move on.

When you practice Shift, you’re opening space to use the tools you’ve found that help you live through a lens of peace, joy, and satisfaction. Your mind is open to the possibilities—all the paths you can take in this moment. And the more frequently you choose a different, more positive path, the more natural it will become.

Building an open mind means learning how to create space from your thoughts and then using that space to choose to act in an intentional way. That’s the first step in your growth, no matter where you want to go in your journey. Stop & Shift is a technique to help you get there.

If you haven’t already heard, here’s where I get to shout from the rooftops that I’ll be talking about allllllll of this and more in my book, Stop & Shift, which will be coming to a bookstore (or e-reader) near you later this summer! I’ll be walking you step-by-step through this mental training technique so that you can reset your mindset.

But listen, I just hope I just got you fired up and feeling ready to start learning, and I’m not going to leave you hanging!

So if you’re ready, you can dig in to the first two chapters here!

Here’s to cultivating an open mind so that you have the space to grow, friend.


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If you still love a good read, welcome to my blog. My hope is that every article will give you at least one tid-bit to help you shape your life in the most beautiful way possible. 😊 WELCOME!

Hi, I'm Karen! 

Hi, I'm Karen.

I've made it my life's work to teach as many people as possible about synergistic trifecta of human potential and transformation: mindfulness, positive psychology, and neuroplasticity.


This fusion creates a holistic approach to personal growth, well-being, and resilience, empowering you to thrive, navigate life's complexities with grace, and tap into your fullest potential.

​​I've worked with companies such as Nissan, Golf Channel, Google, Universal Orlando Parks & Resorts, LG and many more. 

Whether I'm teaching from stage, in a conference room, or via Zoom, my #1 mission is to help as many people as possible tap into the power of their mindset and start living more fully. Because when you become better, you make the people around you better, and that's how you make the world a little better, too. 🌱 #BetterTogether

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