When you make a mistake or don’t meet a goal, what do you tell yourself? When a close friend makes a mistake or misses a goal, what do you tell them?
We are our own worst enemies when it comes to expectations and most of our angst is brought on by our own doing and our self-fulling prophecies. The more we berate, argue, label, catastrophize, and victimize, the more we dig ourselves deeper into the roles we’ve chosen. Any time we label ourselves at all; “I’m broken” or even “I’m the best,” we’re illustrating our fixed mindset and setting ourselves up for future disappointment.
According to Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., there are two mindsets we operate from; a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. Both of these are self-fulfilling. If you think you can improve, you will, and if you think you can’t, you won’t. The good news is that mindsets are learned and can be changed.
A person with a fixed mindset has a desire to look smart, believing success comes from being flawless, looking intelligent and looking good. People with a fixed mindset tend to avoid challenges and give up easily stating that the task was boring or uninteresting rather than putting on their thinking cap and trying new strategies. They find challenges stressful and anxiety provoking which causes them to set low goals, which they still may not reach because the anxiety of other’s judgement halts their tenacity. Fixed mindsets lead to a belief that negative feedback (criticism) is to be avoided and ignored, and they feel threatened by the success of others, as though it’s a personal threat. These people may plateau early and achieve less than their full potential and confirms a deterministic view of the world.
A person with a growth mindset, on the other hand, has a desire to learn and embraces challenges. They don’t feel that the end result is what matters, but trying different strategies is what defines success. These people persist in the face of setbacks and see effort as the path to mastery. They learn from criticism rather than avoiding it or giving up because of it and find inspiration (vicarious experience) in the success of others. As a result, people with a growth mindset reach ever higher levels of achievement and a greater sense of free will.
People with fixed mindsets believe that their abilities are established and can’t change much; “I’m broken.” People with growth mindsets on the other hand know that they can learn and grow if they invest enough effort; “I would like to pay more attention to my tendency to isolate,” they put more attention on the process instead of the person.
As Appreciate Inquiry says “What you focus on becomes your reality.” Your self talk is a self fulfilling prophecy and the great news is that you can change it, and your future, with a little more brain fitness!
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Time for you to consider which mindset you want - growth or fixed? Changing and choice are both within reach. What will yours be? Pay attention to how you answer that…
Read more about mindsets in “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol Dweck
Learner and sharer of all things healthy, active, esteem building, growth promoting, witty and Hawaiian