Katie Sandler has overcome physical and mental hurdles, including being born without an ear, dealing with over eight reconstructive surgeries, and being paralyzed at age 17. These, amongst others, have become the key catalysts of her professional career. In an interview with SWAAY, Sandler shared some of her tips for fostering a positive mindset that are not only simple, but effective.


We all desire to live a more positive lifestyle and maintain a positive mindset, yet it feels unachievable when hardships constantly arise. Society often sells us the idea that a positive life is a perfect life, or that having a positive mindset means absolving ourselves of all negative feelings; however, that could not be further from the truth. Impact Coach, Katie Sandler, believes that fostering positive thinking can be achieved at any stage of life and is simpler than we believe it to be.

Katie Sandler is a resilient entrepreneur who has overcome more than her share of challenges and has since used her impeccable strength, knowledge and experience to equip her clients with the necessary tools needed to improve the quality of their lives. Born without an ear, Sandler underwent several reconstructive surgeries to sculpt a new ear. At the age of 17, Sandler's world was thrown into yet another spiral when she was diagnosed with transverse myelitis, a condition caused by inflammation in the spinal cord, that paralyzed her from the waist down. Miraculously, John Hopkins managed to save her life and Sandler regained mobility from a condition which often leaves patients with limited to no mobility.

Sandler's trials were not over yet. At the age of 20, she was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a group of connective tissue disorders, that often ranges from loose joints to severe, life threatening complications. After a tumultuous journey from birth to adulthood, enduring battles with depression, chronic pain and suicidal thoughts, Sandler had an a-ha moment in which she decided that her hardships needed to mean something. She set the intention to use her experiences to help others, and that would be her life's purpose. Sandler created the Impact Retreat where clients can share their stories in a one-on-one immersive wellness experience focused on personal and professional development.Sandler shared some of her tips for fostering a positive mindset that are not only simple, but effective.

"One thing that helped me overcome my hurdles was being supported through them, particularly feeling like there wasn't anything necessarily wrong with me, but that I just needed to get better"

Fake It Till You Make It "Sometimes it seems counterintuitive, but it's not. The body and the brain respond to 'faking it,' so even the days you don't want to smile, when you put that smile on your face there's a physiological response that happens as a result."

Make The Choice"It's hard to pick yourself up when you're having a hard day, or when you're going through a pivotal grief moment. We often feel like we're victims of our circumstances and don't realize we have a choice. Those that seem to do better make the choice to do better. One person who had a massive impact on my life was Viktor Frankl, author of Man's Search For Meaning. In his book, he says, 'Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms — to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.' I think that's what it really comes down to is making the choice to overcome the hardships you're experiencing and following through with it."

Find Support "We're not here to do this alone. I don't understand where the notion came from that we're supposed to be independent and that we're supposed to have all the answers on our own or strong on our own. There is a reason for the saying 'it takes a village'. I encourage people, no matter what you're going through in life, positive or negative, to seek support. We need to constantly be supported by the people around us. One thing that helped me overcome my hurdles was being supported through them, particularly feeling like there wasn't anything necessarily wrong with me, but that I just needed to get better."

Honor Your Process"We can't compare ourselves to others, we can only compare ourselves to ourselves. In trying not to compare myself to others it has enabled me to feel really good where I'm at especially on the days when I'm struggling— and it's okay to struggle. We are caught up in this whirlwind of 'it's never enough' that society dictates, and that is a detrimental way of thinking, particularly when you're struggling in life. The biggest lesson in all of this is to honor yourself, and express compassion and gratitude towards yourself. The moment you start to express compassion and gratitude towards yourself, establishing a more positive mindset will happen much more easily.

In order to truly feel grateful, you have to become present. Think about one thing you're grateful for today even if you're struggling, even if you have to fake it. If you take a few minutes to breathe mindfully, there's something that happens to our overall sympathetic and parasympathetic system, and we calm down. In that state we feel gratitude much more readily. One of the first things we can do is simply ask ourselves 'What's one thing I am grateful for in life?' When that answer comes up, anchor in to what you're really feeling, not just mentally, but physically. When we combine a thought with a physical feeling, we are much more likely to understand what feeling and expressing gratitude is."

Educate Yourself"We all need to be educated. We are not really taught how to think in terms of being human. That is why we need to talk to other people, especially professionals who are trained to communicate more effectively, and to educate. Learning the semantics behind it all, even learning the words compassion, gratitude and choice, or even the phrase 'fake it till you make it,' are monumental steps towards our growth."

Fostering a positive mindset is not just about learning to be positive, but learning how to deal with low moments and feelings of negativity. For Sandler, overcoming negativity is all about being mindful and living in the present moment. "We have to be aware that we are human and that we are actually programmed to scan our environment for what is 'negative' because that is how we protect ourselves. It is an evolutionary mechanism. That is why it is best to not beat ourselves up about being negative or positive. We have to accept that we are human, we are fluid, and we are not supposed to stay consistently positive. It is never too early or too late to work on ourselves or work towards creating a positive mindset. It is a choice, and the only person who can make that choice is you."


Shivani Mangar