Just this morning I had this thought to myself:
I’ve never been good at paying attention to the details. I’m a big-picture kinda gal.
Ok. That doesn’t sound that bad, right? At least I’m aware of my strengths and weaknesses, right?
That statement may seem like no big deal, but it can have huge repercussions. Because if I choose to believe it, that statement can affect my way of being in the world for many years to come. If I choose to believe that definitive statement, I could possibly miss out on opportunities out of fear that I couldn’t get a more detail-oriented job done. In fact, my entire work might suffer from placing myself into that “just a big-picture gal” box. Positive psychologists would call that statement an example of a fixed mindset.
So what is a fixed mindset? It is a way of thinking that puts everything in a box. It’s the idea that we have certain qualities and characteristics that we were born with and that’s that. You get what you get and you don’t get upset. There’s no room for change, growth, development.
People with a fixed mindset often times give up easily in the face of challenges and setbacks. They may even avoid challenges altogether in fear of failure. Perhaps the most profound way I’ve personally experienced a fixed mindset is through judgment of others.
I used to judge the sh$t out of people. Anyone who seemed remotely more put together and “successful” than me, I would be so quick to judge and find their faults. I would write them off as “not _______ enough.” I now recognize that this was a direct reflection that was based in my own insecurities and fixed mindset that I wasn’t _________ enough. Can anyone else relate to this intentional alienation tactic?
I can honestly say that those judgmental thoughts are few and far between these days. I’ve worked intentionally and diligently on switching my fixed mindset to a more growth mindset. So what is a growth mindset, you ask? Basically just the opposite of a fixed.
According to research, growth mindset is associated with higher levels of resilience and overall well-being. A growth mindset is when a person chooses to learn from him/her experiences and persist in the face of setbacks. Instead of spending time documenting their talents and traits, they spend time developing them. A person with a growth mindset understands the saying “hardwork beats talent when talent doesn’t work.”
It’s important to note here that we may have a super fixed mindset in one aspect of our lives, but a very growth mindset on another aspect. These two things are fluid and your mindset ebb and flows throughout the day. Which brings me to my next point:
We have the capacity to cultivate a more growth mindset in all aspects of our lives.
Let me repeat that.
We have the uniquely human capacity to cultivate a more growth mindset in all aspects of our lives.
A famous study done by Alia Crum and Ellen Langer shows the power mindset has on our physical health. They told a group of hotel maids that the work they do on a daily basis is enough to fulfill the recommended amount of exercise for an active lifestyle. A control group was told nothing. As it turns out, the maids who were told that they were essentially working out on the job lost weight, decreased their blood pressure, body fat, and waist-to-hip ratio. The control group stayed the same. Let that sink in.
There are very sneaky ways that our mindsets are affecting our health. We don’t have to go to the gym for an hour every day in order to be healthy. So stop feeling bad about yourself if you don’t have that kind of time!! There are things you can do. (More on that in a different post to come.
Nothing is beyond our reach.
Nothing is beyond our reach. Anything is possible when we decide to put in the work and dedication. When we decide to take care of our health and wellbeing, we choose to have a growth mindset. When we become aware of our limiting beliefs, we can then try to reverse them (i.e. my detail-oriented dilemma). And things begin to fall into place. I know I know, it sounds crazy. But it’s TRUE. You want to have a mindfulness practice but you just don’t have enough time in the day? That’s a fixed mindset. Instead ask yourself “where is there even just a minute in my day where I could practice mindfulness?” BOOM. Growth mindset and goal met.
The reason we get stuck in a rut isn’t because we are lazy, inadequate, or unworthy. The reason we get stuck in a rut is because we begin to believe those fixed beliefs that the mind conjures up to fu*k with us. So I challenge you in the next few weeks to really begin to question your beliefs around things. Start to become aware of your thoughts and opinions about yourself, your environment, your health, your relationships, and your job. And become aware of other’s fixed mindsets. While you’re having a conversation with someone, ask yourself if what they are saying is coming from a place of fear and judgment or if it’s coming from a place of love and compassion.
You’ll be amazed at what you may find.
Note: Sometimes our physical bodies impact our ability to have a growth mindset, and sometimes our mindset affects our physical body. If you find yourself in a rut and feel like it might be a nutrient deficiency, hormonal imbalance, or another physiological disturbance, please don’t hesitate to reach out or contact your doctor/naturopath. You are not alone.