Fixed or Growth mindset? They do different things.

The fixed mindset and growth mindset are different; and both have their place as we make our way in the world.

You may not even be aware of how you use each of them.

Triggers for growth are generally the difficult places in life, places which we don’t seek out but will encounter.

So when I face a challenge, for instance.

Or receive criticism.

When my plans collapse.

When others do better than me.

When I’m threatened by something.

When I feel defensive.

When mistakes or deficiencies of mine are revealed.

When I feel I don’t have the ability in a situation.

In such circumstances, a fixed mindset will struggle to react with anything other than resistance, over-reaction, fear or flight.

These will be old patterns of behaviour concerned with survival in the face of perceived danger.

A growth mindset will respond differently, not resisting or running, but breathing…breathing into the difficulty, calming the pain and finding here the seed of something possible, something hopeful.

And contrary to popular representation, this is less about a gung-ho ‘I can!’ mentality and more about a resilient sense of ‘I am’.

Let me explain.

The growth mindset is often described as a ‘Can do’ mentality; but this is an unhelpful abbreviation. .

Obama ran for President on the strap line ‘Yes we can!’

It sounded good.

But then came the painful realisation that in the real world – well, sometimes we can’t.

Reality intervenes.

The truth is, I cannot do many things.

I cannot run through a brick wall, for instance, or become the best opera singer in the world, however much blue-sky thinking I engage in.

Nor can I become Queen by working hard or dreaming on a dream.

In these matters, a fixed mindset is a blessing, keeping us grounded, sparing us delusional fantasies.

So we need and possess both mind sets.

As I’ve mentioned, the growth mindset comes into its own in our relationship to difficulty.

And it’s rooted in our own sense of value and meaning.

It is not so much about being positive. Being endlessly positive may simply be an act of terror rather than peace.

Rather, it’s about being secure in ourselves, so that difficulties and problems do not leave us with a diminished sense of self.

And why does this matter?

While we do not feel diminished, we are open, honest and creative in the face of problems.

As soon as we do feel diminished by a situation, we are defensive, resistant, locked-up and fearful.

Difficulty can be a trigger for growth if we are secure in ourselves, undiminished by circumstances.

It’s less about ‘I can’ and more about ‘I am’.

Here, in this difficult present moment, I still have value, I can still find meaning, so there can be adaptation and there can be growing.

The future is unwritten… but not undone.

The adventure continues.

Follow this link for more information about The Mind Clinic Resilience Days.