A fixed mindset can hold you back if you’re not aware of it. It takes deep introspection, a dose of courage, and a willingness to want to change when talking about shifting fixed mindsets. I guess you’re reading this right now because you’re exploring your options. In this article, I am sharing how I personally shifted my fixed mindset so I could function with a growth mindset.
What is a fixed mindset? In case you haven’t read my fixed mindset vs growth mindset article, you can find it here. In summary, a fixed mindset is one that holds negative, limiting beliefs. A person with a fixed mindset believes they’re born with certain talents, skills, and capabilities that can’t be expanded. In other words, they believe they can’t improve themselves through learning, effort, or determination.
What a depressing outlook to have on the capabilities of your mind! Your mind is powerful and thrives in an environment that encourages creativity, positivity, and new insights. You just need to believe it!
Read on to find out how I personally shifted my fixed mindset to one of a growth mindset. I hope the five ways of improving your mindset help you to start the shift.
1. Take Responsibility for Your Mindset
How do you view the word, “responsibility”? Is it about shouldering the burdens of the world and trying to fix everyone else? Or, is it about taking control of your own life? This was a big lesson for me when I realized responsibility is actually the key to freedom.
When you take responsibility, you’re no longer justifying or blaming. You understand that everything that has happened in your life is a result of your own actions, whether taken or not.
Where am I going with this? When you take responsibility for your own actions, you’re acknowledging your mindset. And, the day you acknowledge you’ve been living with a fixed mindset is the day when the penny drops.
Only you can control what goes into your mind and how you respond to it. If you choose to take in negative thoughts and respond to them accordingly, well then, what action will you be taking?
Agree now to acknowledge your mindset. And, to take responsibility for it.
2. Accept Your Mindset
Once you’ve acknowledged your fixed mindset, your next step is to accept it. Not accept it and say, ‘Well, dang, there’s nothing I can do about it”. I want you to accept your fixed mindset with lovingkindness, give it thanks for all the lessons it’s taught you, and then say to yourself, “What can I do now to shift my fixed mindset?”.
Acceptance is about knowing you have a fixed mindset but you refrain from blaming anyone or justifying something for creating the mindset in the first place.
When you accept your fixed mindset, you give thanks instead of beating yourself up. You know also you have a choice (it’s your responsibility, remember?) to decide whether you’re going to keep the fixed mindset or you’re going to do something about changing it so you can start to grow.
Acceptance is about recognizing something for what it is and then assessing whether it serves you or not. If it doesn’t serve you, it then means asking the right question.
3. Ask the Right Questions
When you ask yourself the right questions, you’re going to get the right answers. It’s that simple. But, it helps to know what are the type of questions you would ask yourself to get the kind of answers that’ll serve you.
I remember clearly the first question I asked myself when I acknowledged and accepted I had been living with a fixed mindset all of my life. My question was, “Why do I believe this?”. The answer wasn’t direct and it took a long time to unravel the question.
The right answer came to me though. I had to identify all my limiting beliefs, unpack them, and slowly shift them by replacing them with positive beliefs. This was a slow, painful, and challenging process, and one I did with my own life coach.
Unpacking limiting beliefs required asking a whole lot of other questions. Each one had to be handled gently, with forgiveness and more acceptance.
The closer you get to a more open mindset, the more the questions reflect the type of growth you’ve undertaken. I’m a huge fan of Scott Jeffrey and his article on “How to Establish a Growth Mindset” is worth reading. He lists the kind of questions to ask when coming from a growth mindset.
4. Take Action
Too often, we read self-help books, informative articles such as this one, or sign up for a self-development course to understand ourselves more. But, as soon as the book or course ends, we walk away and forget to take action.
If you’re serious about shifting your fixed mindset, you need to be serious about taking action using a growth mindset.
Let’s look at a typical response of a person with a fixed mindset when faced with a new opportunity:
I can’t do this, I’m not creative enough/smart enough/pretty enough blah blah blah.
What’s the point of me doing this? I am going to fail.
I failed the first time around so it’s not meant for me.
Joe Soap can do this. Look how smart he is.
A fixed mindset tells a person to hide under the duvet covers until the opportunity has passed by!
A typical response of a person with a growth mindset faced with the same opportunity will say the following:
How can I make this work for me?
What can I learn from this?
Okay, I failed the first time but what can I do better the second time around?
This is fun! I love challenges!
And, they take action. They seek out solutions, they pick themselves up every time they fall and they start again. They heed the feedback and unpack it till they find a way to make the opportunity work for them. They take on challenges willingly. They’re open to learning and expanding.
Watch this inspiring woman use her growth mindset to take action.
5. Don’t Do it Alone
Be careful of getting too bogged down while unpacking limiting beliefs. Any kind of inner work can get exhausting and it’s tempting to hide or run for the hills. I strongly advise working with a skilled life coach or therapist who can guide you through the process.
Shifting a fixed mindset is not easy. You’re dealing with childhood stuff that you’ve carried into your adult years. So, do yourself a favor and don’t do it alone.
And, while we’re talking about childhood matters, here’s a great book to read even if you’re an adult or a parent wanting to help your child shift a fixed mindset. Mary Ninh's "Perfect Ninja: A Children's Book About Developing a Growth Mindset" introduces you to the fact it’s hard work and determination that breeds success.
A Final Word About Fixed Mindsets
You’re not alone if you’re living with a fixed mindset. The world is full of people like you and me. The difference lies in the willingness to recognize, take responsibility, and accept where you are. When you start asking the right questions, the answers will help you to take action.
I’m the first to admit any kind of change is hard and painful but rewarding all at the same time. Shifting a negative mindset is not an easy journey but when I look at the alternatives, I’m glad I took the trip. I know you can do it. So, what are you waiting for?
This post was originally published on January 7th, 2021, and updated on March, 9th 2022.
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