What is a Growth Mindset?

Do you believe that you were born and raised with a pre-determined set of skills and abilities? Or do you believe that your ideas and beliefs are ever-evolving, that with effort you can learn new skills? If you said “yes” to the first question, you have what is referred to as a “fixed mindset.” If you said “yes” to the second question, you probably have what Stanford professor Carol Dweck calls a “growth mindset." With a growth mindset, we have to break through the rigidity and achieve the results we desire, whether that be at school, eating patterns, in our relationships, or in other aspects of our lives. 

If we have a “growth mindset,” we enjoy challenges, despite the risk, because we value learning. Because we’re always trying new things, we often don’t know what we’re doing. Still, those of us with a growth mindset often build new skills more easily because we believe we can and so we really work at it.

Here are some tips as to how to build more of a growth mindset:

1. Face your challenges. 

If you find yourself terrified in the face of a serious challenge, stop and "reframe" the situation in your mind. Consider your challenge as an “opportunity,” by shifting your perspective. Working with a CBT therapist can be helpful in "tweaking your thinking."

2. Pay attention to your thoughts. 

Pay attention to your "internal narrative," that is, the words in your mind. Listen to what you are saying and thinking. Censor yourself and offer yourself an alternative way of thinking about the situation.

Replace judgement with acceptance and hate with compassion. Intend to think higher thoughts and hold yourself to it. 

3. Find your purpose. 

It can be hard to find a passion or a niche, especially as a developing teen. Try something new, create something, or foster a pet. If we keep doing the same thing, we don't grown and change.

4. Turn criticism around. 

The purpose of criticism is to make things better. Someone else can see what you are doing from a slightly different perspective than you, and may have some valuable suggestions for you. If you open up to hearing suggestions, you can more easily develop your growth mindset.

5. Learn from the mistakes of others. 

Vicarious learning is a powerful form of learning. If you can learn from the mistakes of others, then you may be able to make fewer mistakes. This can sometimes calm the fear of trying new things.

6. Be realistic. It takes time to learn a new skill, like a new language, an instrument or learning how to become a good player on a team. Remember that speed is not important. When you have a growth mindset, the end results are less of a focus. Instead, you fully engage and put effort into the process, no matter how long it takes. 

In sum

A growth mindset means one embraces challenges, persists in the face of setbacks, takes responsibility for words and actions, and acknowledges that effort is the path toward mastery. By choosing to make the extra effort to build a growth mindset, you can make your mental processes work for you, resulting in a greater likelihood that you get the results you're looking for.

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