We might think we are just who we are – born the way we are. No changing. But in reality growth is possible, change is an option. What if we could recognise and understand how to change our mindset about our self.
By Claire Aristedes, Mindfulness Expert
Sure it’s not going to happen overnight or be super easy, but by becoming more self-aware, learning to understand ourselves, and acknowledge how we automatically react to situations that may not be the most beneficial for ourselves – eg negative habits. We do have the ability to evolve.
There’s an important term called ‘Growth Mindset’ developed by Carol Dweck Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. In Carol’s words, “Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts). “
What exactly does this mean for you, and how can you develop a growth mindset?
We know now that our brains are far more malleable than we thought. Neuroscience research on our brain’s plasticity has shown that connectivity between neurons can change with experience. With practice, we can create new neural network pathways and existing ones can be strengthened. These neuroscientific discoveries show us that we can increase our neural growth by the actions we take. By adopting positive strategies, asking questions, adapting and learning from mistakes, practicing positive self-care habits around nutrition and sleep. We can change, it takes time and practice to adopt strategies to support this change. But we can change. And that is what’s exciting. This does not been we need to change everything – as self-acceptance is also very important. But changing negative habits and behaviours – that’s the aim.
Some examples of fixed vs growth :
When we are in a fixed mindset – we tend to want to hide our flaws so to not be judged or labelled a failure. Whereas when we move to a growth mindset, our flaws are just part of your TO-DO list of things to work on. Another example of fixed mindset is sticking with what you know, staying in your comfort zone, to maintain your confidence. Compare that with a growth mindset, where you are comfortable with pushing yourself into the unfamiliar territory so that you are always learning.
When you build the right skills, such as positivity, resilience, mindfulness, you can start to generate more positive emotions, a sense of meaning, and happiness. It takes practice, but the reward is worth it. When you practice a new skill, these skills start to become more natural, and eventually, become automatic (like riding a bike). When these skills become automatic, this is when you start to see change.
An important point to make clear is we may not have a growth mindset all the time, we may move between a fixed and growth mind, but what’s important is learning to recognise when you are stuck in a ‘fixed mindset’ – and how to get unstuck! Aim to recognize fixed mindset elements in yourself, reflect on feedback and focus on improving strategies.
Top 3 ways to change your mindset
1. Self-acceptance and self-compassion – no one is perfect all the time. Embrace your uniqueness and imperfection in yourself and in others.
2. Face challenges – start to reframe and shift your perspective around difficult situations, seeing them as a challenge, not something to fear and avoid. Consider that your problem maybe an opportunity.
Visualisation of challenging events or situations can mentally help you prepare. Neuroscience has also shown us that the brain can’t tell the difference between what’s imagined and what is reality. Through neuroimaging, we can see that there is the same brain activity when we think about an event in our mind (i.e. we visualise) and when the event actually occurs (i.e., reality). Prepare yourself mentally by using visualisation and mental imagery to see yourself confidently dealing with the challenge.
The visualisation process may seem silly when you first begin but practice each day. Repetition is essential to building a new habit for yourself.
You can also use visualisation to change your emotional state – rather than dwelling on negative feelings or worry, use visualisation to pull you out of that state into a more positive calmer frame of mind.
The Mindology app has a session “Visualisation – How to Guide”, the session includes a guide to setting your goals and step by step guide to using visualisation to realise your goals. Download the app on the app store and googleplay.
3. Self-talk and the Inner Critic – what is your inner dialogue like? Are the words and thoughts in your mind positive or negative? Listen to what you are saying and thinking. Censor yourself and become your own guide. Aim to replace negative thoughts with positive, more accepting thoughts.
We have created a handy workbook to help you start to change that inner dialogue from Inner Critic to Inner Friend. Download our Inner Critic to Inner Friend Guide here
Be patient with yourself, learn to develop the belief your capacities and talents are not fixed; they can be improved and change over time. Think of it as a journey of self-care and developing a positive mindset, take the approach that you are building habits around empowering yourself.
Connect with Claire @mindology.app [email protected]