Dear Candy Q & A - Growth Mindset
Adopting a growth mindset can be very helpful as we engage in rewiring the brain. There is ample research that shows the view we adopt for ourselves profoundly affects the way we engage with life. Believing our qualities are carved in stone and cannot be changed is a fixed mindset, whereas a growth mindset is based in the belief that our basic qualities are things we can cultivate through our efforts. Purposeful engagement is often what determines success, not a fixed prior ability. When we come from a fixed mindset we have an urgency to prove ourselves, over and over. We are driven by the belief that we only have a certain amount of intelligence, moral character, willpower, personality traits, and we want to show that we are capable and have positive qualities in these areas. What a growth mindset offers is that, rather than having a fixed ability that needs to be proven, we recognize that all of these abilities can be developed through learning. That we can develop ourselves by stretching and growing from our experiences. We don't need to be perfect because there actually is no such thing as perfection, and it is from failures that we learn and grow. From this perspective, failure is a necessary part of growth, and it is even welcomed, rather than something to be ashamed of, or used as a reason to give up. Failure is not perceived as a personal flaw, but as an action that, with a little more practice and help, can be overcome and make us stronger, better people as a result.
How does this apply to retraining? Rewiring the brain inevitably has its ups and downs. There are times of progress and times of difficulty. How we orient to those times plays a role in our recovery. Sometimes we internalize the difficulties as personal failures, that we aren't good enough or trying hard enough, or aren't capable of recovery. This is a fixed mindset. We are depriving ourselves of an opportunity for growth. By recognizing that setbacks are not personal, we can learn from them. They help us fine tune our skills for directing brain and nervous system function. The more gentle and self-compassionate we can be, the more likely we will be able to shift into a mind state that is conducive to helping us move forward. And eventually, as our skillset grows and orientation to the down cycles of recovery changes, these down turns become less frequent and we move out of them more quickly.
As human beings we are designed to learn through failure and setbacks. Think about a child learning to walk, or learning to feed itself. There were hundreds of falls and times where food went everywhere but in the mouth. And yet with time, these skills were developed to the point where they have now become automatic. We don't even need to give any conscious awareness to those tasks to perform them anymore. But that didn't happen overnight, and young children don't beat themselves up every time they fall or miss their mouth. They just keep trying. And through non-judgment & efforting, they grow. So can you.
The beautiful thing about mindsets is that they can change. If you find yourself in a fixed mindset, know that you can change over to a growth mindset by shifting your perspective. An excellent resource to help with this is Carol Dweck's book Mindset: the new psychology of success. But we don't need to read a book in order to start changing our orientation to these experiences. We can simply stop & take a breath, remind ourselves that setbacks aren't personal and that we are in the process of building a new skillset. This ability takes time to develop and its okay that we aren't there yet. Then, gently reorient your attention to something that is in alignment with wellbeing. Over time this will become second nature.
Happy Family Day to all my fellow Canadians!
Until next time!
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Candy Widdifield is Registered Clinical Counsellor, Wellness Coach, and Registered Reiki Master Teacher in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. She works with people all over the world, helping them to optimize their wellbeing and thrive in their lives. Her modalities include coaching, therapy, Reiki and the Safe & Sound Protocol. More information about Candy can be found at www.candywiddifield.com