Summary Resilience Module 3: Growth Mindset

Resilience 3: Growth Mindset

This is a summary of the module Resilience 3: Growth Mindset for your reference.

To start, here is a question:

Do you believe that resilience – being able to adapt or bounce back after difficult situations – is something that can be developed?

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If you answered “No” to the question above, this is an example of a fixed mindset.

If you answered “Yes,” it is an example of a growth mindset

Psychologist, Dr. Carol Dweck, created the term growth mindset, which she defines as “the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts, your strategies, and help from others.”

In other words, people with a growth mindset believe they can develop skills and mental abilities through hard work and practice.

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When you have a growth mindset and are faced with challenges, you not only face them, but view them as an opportunity to learn and grow. When challenges don’t lead to an ideal outcome, you learn from the experience and continue forward. 

For example, imagine you heard of a friend making an elaborate holiday dinner and you wanted to do the same. Unfortunately, it didn’t come out nearly as tasty as you expected. It can be easy to have a fixed mindset in this situation. However, you can shift your mindset by approaching it with curiosity and seeing it as an opportunity to grow.

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Instead of thinking, “I’m a terrible cook. No one will ever want me to cook again.” Pause and think about the meal. 

Was it the first time you tried such a complicated recipe? Did this meal require ingredients or techniques you’ve never used before? Have you made other meals with success? When might you try again and how can you practice working with these ingredients and skills? 

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Compare the two mindsets.

Which of these characteristics do you think you display regularly?

  • I have a desire to learn

  • I take on challenges

  • I am persistent

  • I often ignore feedback

  • I find inspiration through others’ accomplishments

  • I get defensive when criticized

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It’s important to note – all of us are a combination of growth and fixed mindsets. You can have a growth mindset in some parts of your life while in others, you might have more of a fixed mindset.

For example: 

Sally values her health. She feels very confident she can always improve by focusing on nutrition, exercise, and stress management. 

When her last lab values showed elevated cholesterol, she told herself, ”This would be a great opportunity to reflect on my health habits, learn what is and isn’t working, and make adjustments.” 

To help lower her cholesterol, she started making more heart-healthy choices for her meals and added 30-minute walks at lunch.

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However, when it comes to work, Sally feels like her skills are set and she could never be a leader. 

When she had an opportunity to lead a project, she didn’t step forward. She knows from past experience that she’s not a leader and she doesn’t have the communication skills to be successful.

She thinks, “Why try and embarrass myself when I fail? I’ll just stay where I am, it’s what I’m good at.”

As this example shows, Sally has a growth mindset in terms of her health, but when it comes to her skills at work, she has a fixed mindset.

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Four steps towards a growth-focused mindset

Module 3: Growth Mindset in your Resilience Workbook offers more details. As you proceed through this exercise, you might find it difficult. Remember to practice self-compassion (you can also check out your Self-Compassion Practice in the app!) What are your thoughts as you read these steps?

  • Step 1: Identify and acknowledge your fixed mindset. Everyone has both fixed and growth mindsets in different areas of their lives.

  • Step 2: Find your fixed mindset triggers. What brings up those beliefs that you cannot develop your skills or abilities? Is it someone criticizing you? When there is conflict? What about a work or school deadline?

  • Step 3: Give your fixed mindset a name (e.g. “Anxious Andy” or “Stressed Sarah”). Then, reflect on how it makes you feel or what it makes you do. This will help you identify and address your fixed mindset when it shows up.

  • Step 4: Be ready when your fixed mindset is triggered. Pause and reflect, then challenge your thoughts. You can try to “re-think” these automatic thoughts in a more helpful way.

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Remember, this will take practice. Continue to think about shifting your mindset. It can help you build resilience. 

Notice how you feel after completing the worksheet. Think about the changes you experience as you move from a fixed to a growth mindset in different areas of your life.