How to conquer a fixed mindset
Updated: Jan 25, 2020
Not long ago my 8-year old, Caleb, and I were visiting a friend who lives in St Petersburg, Florida. While we were sightseeing and checking out the area, we drove past a park with two humongous trees that had incredible sprouting roots and hanging limbs. As soon as Caleb saw them his face lit up with joy and I knew exactly what he was thinking, he wanted to climb those trees.
We pulled over and he ran as fast as he could to the first tree. He stood back and looked at it for a moment, sizing up the challenge. He finally walked over and started to put one foot in a hole while looking for his next plausible step. I could see him getting a little frustrated because it wasn't as easy as it looked when we were driving by. But still, he persevered and got about four or five feet off the ground.
It didn’t take long before his legs were awkwardly stuck between some branches, and he started to get flustered. Noticeably flustered. With a quiver in his voice, he said, “Mom I need your help.” To which I gently responded, “Calm your mind so you can look for a way down with focused thoughts.” I reminded him that if he didn't think he was able to get down then he would be stuck there as long as he believes that. I watched him take a couple of deep breaths and finally start to make his way down from the tree.
When his feet landed firmly on the ground, he started laughing sheepishly with tears a little welled up in his eyes. I could tell he was proud of himself. And within 90 seconds, he was back up in that tree climbing higher than he had before.
Now I had tears welling up in MY eyes because I was so proud of him working through the fixed mindset.
Having a fixed mindset isn't a ‘bad’ thing, but it is a limiting thing. That’s why I use every opportunity I can to teach my son how to develop a growth mindset. We all find ourselves stuck in a “tree” of fear, doubt, worry, comparison, overwhelm, negativity. But when we identify the thoughts and disconnect from them, that gives us the space to choose another option - growth.
Maybe you've been wondering why you're not achieving your goals, or why you feel so stuck in life. More than likely it's a fixed mindset that's getting in your way. But the good thing is, you are not your thoughts and you can train your brain to grow through what you go through. Everyone gets hit with challenges and setbacks, it's just all about how you navigate them. People with a growth mindset learn from their mistakes and see challenges as opportunities.
With a growth mindset you believe that you're capable of change and capable of changing the circumstances of your life.
So let’s call out some common limiting thoughts that way you can identify them whenever they cross your brain and overcome them with a grow-forward attitude. We’ll never be immune to negative thinking, but we can start working on how to conquer those thoughts especially when they get in the way of our goals.
Setbacks are a common experience and they're so common we should kinda anticipate them. Life just can't be controlled, like weather, or traffic, or someone getting sick. Don't let setbacks completely derail your day. They aren’t roadblocks, they’re speed bumps. They may cause you to slow down but they don’t have to stop you in your tracks. When you encounter a setback, big or small, don't give up control of your mind by letting your emotions take over.
Press forward and keep in mind that sometimes things happen, that's just how life is.
When things get really hard it's easy to want to give up, but hard work is a prerequisite for progress. Nowadays people want things instantly and easily, but that’s not reality. Be careful to not downplay your effort because honestly, any successful person will tell you that perseverance is what makes the journey worth it. Someone with a fixed mindset will give up if a goal requires too much work. But feeling overwhelmed is totally natural and having the courage to press through is what separates a growth mindset from a fixed mindset person.
When the work feels like too much to handle, break down what you are working on into bite-size chunks so you feel a more frequent sense of accomplishment.
Whenever you are working towards a goal, it’s easy to look at others and find yourself comparing your life or your success to theirs. The feeling of jealousy, resentment, or competition is a fixed mentality, also tied to a scarcity mentality. Remind yourself that you may not have that person’s life or success (yet), but you have a good life (dare I even say, a GREAT life). And not to mention, you also don’t share their troubles. You don’t know what they’ve been through or are currently going through despite their seemingly successful happy life that you only have a glimpse of.
Don't waste precious time wishing for someone else's life, focus on building and loving YOUR life.
Here's the big takeaway, write this down and save it 👉 You are not your thoughts. These are just a couple of examples, but fixed thoughts come in many deceiving forms. The point is, any fixed thought that keeps you from living wholeheartedly needs to be deleted from your mind. Everyone battles with this, everyone. The key is to strengthen your mind so you can recognize it and then CONQUER it, and ultimately, release those limiting thoughts from your beliefs.
P.S. This article was inspired by my son who told me I should write a post about his tree climbing experience to tell others if he can do it so can you! And he’s absolutely right. So, get to climbing!!