The mind is super powerful – more powerful than we often give it credit for. Not only does it allow us to do everything we do in everyday life – speak, walk, make decisions – it also produces thoughts.
The act of thinking is something that comes naturally to all of us. None of us have to think about thinking. It just happens. Or does it?
Turns out, thinking about thinking is probably one of the greatest things you could ever do. Taking time to stop and think: what am I really thinking? And why am I thinking this? And is this productive to who I want to be as a person?
The truth is that thoughts can seem like the truth, but they’re not. They’re not really real. The trouble is that a lot of humans fall into the trap of believing their thoughts define who they are, whilst the others have learnt that thoughts can be changed and overcome.
This is where the fixed vs growth mindset begins.
Definition of Fixed Mindset =
This person often believes that the way they are – their thought patterns and behaviours – cannot be changed. They may see things as “impossible” or use the phrase “I can’t do this”. People with this mindset are often stuck in their ways, won’t accept the idea that a better version of themselves, or a better version of their life, can exist. They might think they will be and feel the same forever, and they often have negative self-talk.
Definition of Growth Mindset =
This person acknowledges that whatever is in the mind is a construct. Beliefs can be changed and new thought patterns formed. People with this mindset are often willing to change and learn new things. They are welcome to criticism – it gives them a chance to work towards being a better person – and they see everything as a learning opportunity (even things that are negative/bad). They often have (or actively try to) have positive self-talk.
I think everyone experiences a fixed mindset at some point in their life. We all have times when we feel stuck, as if the world is out to get us, as if we really believe nothing better can happen. However, it is also these experiences that can drive us into growth.
For the first nineteen or twenty years of my life, I believe I had a fixed mindset (I’m currently twenty one), but especially in the last four of those years. I saw the struggles I had as this overwhelming thing that meant I could never do this and I could never do that. I saw this idealistic version of myself as an impossibility. And I was extremely negative all the time. But to myself, not to others. I would beat myself up for every mistake I made and talk to myself in ways I would never dare to speak to anyone else. And I accepted it as reality. I accepted it so much that it only drowned me further and further until the negativity produced more negativity, and I found myself in a lot of internal pain.
Skip ahead to the last year and I’ve begun to really understand the value of a growth mindset. During my journey to overcome the struggles I’ve had with anxiety, stress and fatigue, I’ve realised that there is no such thing as impossible – that is simply your mind creating limitations that are not present in reality. My thoughts have stopped becoming something that control me, but rather I try to control them, reigning in the bad thoughts and reframing them with positivity until they will slowly dissipate. The bad thoughts still creep in sometimes, but I’m learning to push them away with self-love and accepting a new positive reality.
Moving from Fixed to Growth Mindset
I think the problem with gaining a growth mindset is that a fixed mindset is so comfortable. It’s so comfortable – and moving into growth seems like so much effort – that it’s easy to just sit and take the easy option. I know I did this for a long time. I think we’re all guilty of doing this at some point in our lives. Why risk everything for growth when you can just sit and accept things as they are?
Because this is your chance at real happiness.
In my own experience – and I know this may be different for everybody – I only really experienced real and full and overwhelming happiness when I started to move into a growth mindset. This doesn’t mean I never had happy moments before – I had lots of happy moments before! But I never felt wholly happy and accepting and fully myself until now, until after this journey of self-development, and I think that says a lot in itself. Your mindset really does affect your emotions and mental health.
As I’ve mentioned above, I’m twenty one. I don’t know all there is about the world and self-development and whether you can jump between the mindsets like the flick of a switch. I sure hope I never jump back into my fixed mindset! But I think everyone has some sort of value in what they experience, and I hope that perhaps this will inspire you to look a little differently at your own life. Do you let your thoughts limit you? Do you tell yourself you can’t do something, until your mind believes it is real?
I felt a little wary publishing this post, because I think talking about a fixed mindset and reframing negative thoughts can sometimes trigger people. No one can be forced to change their mindset – you have to do it off your own accord. So this post is simply here to give you a perspective, to perhaps enlighten you, but at the very least to make you think.
And if you relate, have something to say, or have a positive story of your own, please share your thoughts in the comments below – I would love to have a longer discussion about this!
You can find me on social media here: