Some people believe they can’t change. They are just a certain way, and believe they have no control over this. These people have what Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychologist, would call a fixed mindset. Dweck has done a lot of research on mindsets. In her wonderful book simply called Mindset, Dweck explains that some people have fixed mindsets and others have growth mindsets.
If you have a fixed mindset, you believe your basic qualities are carved in stone.
If you have a growth mindset, you believe your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.
Guess which people are more successful and happy, regardless of IQ and all other indicators of natural ability? If you guessed those with a growth mindset, you are correct!
People who believe their qualities are fixed don’t try to stretch themselves. Because they are always judging themselves based upon their fixed beliefs, they rely upon other people acknowledging their qualities to feel good about themselves. They are emotional children who are afraid to challenge themselves because they don’t want to risk failure. They limit themselves based solely on their beliefs!
People with a growth mindset, however, seek to challenge themselves to be better. They believe that if they work hard, they can become good at most things. They don’t mind and may even expect a little stumbling along the way. They think of failure as a tool for learning, not as something that makes them a loser. They don’t need constant validation from others to feel good about themselves.
How do these different mindsets affect our love relationships? To have a long-term, happy relationship, you need a growth mindset about yourself AND the relationship.
People with a fixed mindset tend to choose mates who will bolster their egos. They prefer to be put on a pedestal and worshipped. I can tell you from personal experience that people who will worship us are not our equals, and this gets very boring after a while. It will not result in a good relationship over time.
People with a growth mindset look for a partner who will encourage them to learn new things and challenge them to become better people. Growth mindset people are willing to challenge their beliefs, and don’t need others to worship them to feel good about themselves. Relationships, like any living thing, need to grow to stay vital. A relationship among growth mindset people can be interesting over the long term.
Noted marriage authority Aaron Beck tells couples in counseling to never think these fixed-mindset thoughts, “My partner is incapable of change,” or “Nothing can improve our relationship.” He says these ideas are almost always wrong.
Marriages among fixed mindset people are never the passionate ones. People with a fixed mindset expect that if they marry the right person, life will be easy and they won’t have to work at their relationship. This is contrary to the belief of every relationship expert. If things aren’t going well, fixed mindset people think it just wasn’t meant to be and get out. Or “I’ll just have to suck it up because that’s the way it is.” In other words, fixed mindset people often either get divorced when the marriage requires effort, or settle for an “OK” relationship, believing that this is either all they deserve, or it is as good as it gets.
But growth mindset people don’t expect magic, they make it. They see problems as a vehicle for developing greater understanding and intimacy. If you have a growth mindset, you see marriage as a way to become a better person and encourage your partner to be his or her best self. You know that good marriages are made, not born. The growth mindset relationship gets better over time and intimacy actually increases.
The good news is that people with a fixed mindset can change and develop a growth mindset. At any age.
Step 1: Learn to hear your fixed mindset “voice.”
These will be the voices saying things like: I’ve never done that before! Am I sure I can do this? What if I fail?
Realize that these are only thoughts in your head. It is normal to question ourselves when we try new things.
Step 2: Recognize that you have a choice.
People with a fixed mindset can definitely change if they want to. As Carol Dweck explains, how you interpret challenges, setbacks and criticism is your choice.
Step 3: Talk back to the fixed mindset voice using your growth mindset voice.
When your fixed mindset voice questions whether you are sure you can do this, your growth mindset voice can say, “I won’t know if I don’t try” or “Many successful people have setbacks before they achieve great things.”
You are guaranteed to miss every shot you don’t take!
Step 4: Take your growth mindset voice and put it into action
Practice hearing both voices and acting on the growth mindset voice.
Take on life’s challenge wholeheartedly! Practice courage!
Learn from your setbacks! What tweaks do you need to make it work better?
REMEMBER, your thoughts create your feelings, and your feelings create your actions. Your actions create your results. To get unstuck, if you think motivating thoughts, you will feel good about the challenges you face which will make it easier to take action to achieve your goals.
If you need help changing from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset, try a free mini-coaching session! Interested? Click Here!
I'm passionate about helping foodies learn how to drop their excess weight for good without dieting. I help you discover what is really causing your weight problem (it isn't that you love food!), and teach you how to enjoy the foods you love while permanently losing your desire to overeat. I'd love to teach my method to you! I’m also a gourmet cook and baker who struggled with my weight for 40 years before discovering the secret of how to stop emotional eating and overeating. I am a certified life coach, arbitrator and mediator, and I live on the coast of Maine.