What do Growth Mindset and Fixed Mindset mean?

Growth Mindset and Fixed Mindset When you encounter difficulties in life do you blame others ("it's all their fault!"), beat yourself up ("I'm so stupid") and make generalisations about life ("life isn't fair")???

If so , you could be experiencing the Fixed Mindset.

In Carol S. Dweck's book "Mindset" she explores the thoughts, beliefs and behaviour of individuals with a Growth Mindset and individuals with a Fixed Mindset.

Individuals with a Fixed Mindset believe that intelligence and personality attributes are fixed, rigid and don't change over time. So when they encounter difficulties in their lives they feel worthless and scared of being judged/criticised. Their all or nothing thinking leads them to believe that when life events are difficult, they are complete and utter failures. As a result they learn to fear the unexpected; they avoid challenges ; they give up easily and often they fail to achieve their full potential in life. Also individuals with the Fixed Mindset can experience depression, anxiety, stress as well as relationship difficulties.

What is Growth Mindset?

Individuals with a Growth Mindset see life as a continual learning/self development process. They relish life's difficulties as they perceive them as opportunities for growth. Through conscious effort and self reflection, individuals with a Growth Mindset believe that when they persevere and take personal responsibility we can fully achieve our potential.

The Growth Mindset allows us to

  • See the bigger picture and not take everything personally
  • Give others the benefit of the doubt
  • Take risks
  • Respond constructively to feedback
  • Not let setbacks determine our self worth
  • Accept that life is fluid and unpredictable

So how can counselling help me develop a Growth Mindset?

  • Counselling will help you change your fixed and limiting beliefs into Growth Mindset beliefs.
  • Self awareness- become aware of which areas in your life you have a Growth Mindset and which areas you have a Fixed Mindset.
  • Confront your limiting beliefs by challenging the internal messages you tell yourself about yourself. Our most important relationship in life is with ourselves and if we often tell ourselves we are crap/useless/a failure, then these beliefs will damage our self esteem. The voice in your head that tells you these messages is a bully and the messages are not true. Counselling will help you challenge these messages.
  • Be compassionate with yourself. Replace judging of others/yourself with acceptance and understanding. Often people who judge are scared. Accept that in life others will judge us- we can't control that- but we can control and we are responsible for what feedback we internalise. Counselling will help you change from judging yourself /others to compassion and understanding.
  • Be patient and enjoy the journey! Individuals with a Growth Mindset accept that we continue to learn and develop throughout our lives. Our brains are a muscle and the more we challenge our beliefs , the more brain cells grow. In this way we can change the neural pathways in our brains.
  • Accept your feelings - when we encounter setbacks , its natural to feel upset/scared. Normalise these vulnerable feelings, accept them as part of being human and take responsibility for them. Blaming someone else for your feelings won't resolve your feelings. Feelings can be complicated - we may feel anger but really be sad or scared. Being honest and open minded about how we really feel is part of the Growth Mindset.

How can we help our children develop a Growth Mindset?

Carol Dweck writes about how parents and teachers can foster the Growth Mindset by praising effort rather than achievement. Young children enjoy learning- they see learning as an adventure, as a challenge. When children are praised only for their achievements, they become risk averse to new challenges; they learn that effort doesn't matter; they give up. Sometimes children who are labeled as 'gifted', have low self esteem because they have been praised for things that took little effort for them. However when children are praised for effort and problem solving strategies, they learn transferable life skills, which will help them manage the inevitable setbacks that we all encounter in life. Learning to see life's setbacks/making mistakes as a learning opportunity is a skill that we can all learn.

“The biggest part of healing or making ourselves whole is to accept all of ourselves, all the many parts of ourselves” Louise Hay