I noticed in my pole dance class recently that there is a strong divide amongst students between those who complain about exercises and approach them half-heartedly, and those who persevere and keep practicing until they improve.
It can be really tempting to fall into the first category and proclaim, “I can’t do it”. But we need to retrain ourselves – and our brains – to instead think, “I can’t do it yet”. So in today’s blog post I’m going to be talking about mindset: what it is, why a growth mindset is important, and how to change your mindset for the better.
What is Mindset
Let’s start with answering the question: what is mindset.
Mindset, put simply, is a set of beliefs which determine our thoughts and actions. These become ingrained in us over the course of our lives and affect our behaviour in everything we do.
Mindset serves an important function because it help us understand situations and suggest ways of achieving goals. If we are faced with a problem or difficult, mindset helps us work out how to tackle it. Mindset is particularly key for our reaction to failure and achieving success.
World-renowned psychologist, Carol Dweck is famous for her research on mindsets, and she came up with the idea of growth mindsets and fixed mindsets. Let’s have a look at what she discovered.
Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset
According to Carol Dweck: In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.
In a way, these can also be seen as optimistic and pessimistic mindsets.
People with a fixed mindset feel very negatively towards the idea of failure, and need to prove themselves to be talented. They also feel that to be successful, you only need talent – there’s no need to put in effort.
Someone with a growth mindset, on the other hand, will believe that if they put in the effort and hard work, they can achieve anything. Rather than viewing failure as a sign they should stop doing something, they see it as an aid to learning.
A growth mindset cultivates a desire to learn and improve, whereas a fixed mindset is only seeking approval and validation.
So why is this important? Well, someone with a fixed mindset has self-limiting beliefs that will stop them from achieving their potential.
Examples of Fixed Mindset:
Do you ever say any of these kinds of things:
- “I’m no good at maths”
- “I’m not creative”
- “She’s a natural dancer”
These are all signs of a fixed mindset. The belief that skills and abilities are inherent and not something we can improve upon. They hold us back and make us view the world in a negative light, and this can be very damaging to our health and happiness.
However, don’t despair, one of the great things about this is that it is possible to retrain our brains from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. And here are 5 easy steps to help you on your way.
How To Change Your Mindset
So, let’s look at how to change your mindset in 5 easy steps:
1 Look out for the negative fixed mindset voice
When you face problems in your daily life, make yourself more aware of how you react to them. Do you worry that you’ll make a fool of yourself, or be seen as a failure? Do you think you shouldn’t bother applying for a job because you won’t be good enough?
2 Challenge the negative with a positive
Try challenging that idea with a positive thought. For example, if you are worried about failing at something, think instead: it will probably go really well, and if it doesn’t I’ll know how to improve for next time.
3 Don’t view everything as black and white
It can be easy to fixate on the ultimate outcome and feel frustrated at a lack of results. For example, if you want to lose weight it can be easy to give up and think, “It’s hard for me to lose weight”, if you only fixate on the number on the scale. Instead, try thinking about the process. Everyday you make healthier food choices, or get out and exercise, is a positive step in the right direction. Praise yourself for that, and the ultimate outcome – weight loss – will come as an inevitable result.
4 Protect yourself and your mindset
Be aware of how the people around you talk – do they generally have fixed or growth mindsets? Try to surround yourself with positive people and it will help you feel more positive too. If someone close to you – a partner, or family member – has a fixed mindset, maybe try talking to them about it – challenge their self-limiting beliefs. It will be helpful for you both in the long run.
5 Find a role model
Is there a life goal you want to achieve? Or are you just feeling a bit lost in life? Find yourself a role model – someone who has already got to where you’d like to be, or is living the kind of life you’ve dreamed of. Don’t feel envious of them, or just wish you could be like them. Study what they’ve done, how they’ve achieved their goals and follow in their footsteps.
It is easy to feel negative and overwhelmed by life at times, but if you take small steps in the right direction and work hard, you’ll achieve what you want to achieve.
The best way to feel more positive, and happier in general, is to combine a regular exercise routine with some mindfulness practice…and I have just the thing! Sign up by popping your details in the box below and you’ll get access to my FREE health & happiness course. It includes a 20-minute dance fitness workout, a 5-minute instant calm meditation, and some bonus goodies.
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