Wellness Family Dentistry

You Need A Growth Mindset!

December 30, 2021
Posted By: Magna Porterfield, PhD (Psychologist)

What kind of mindset do you have?  A mindset is a set of beliefs that shape how you make sense of the world and yourself. These beliefs strongly influence how you think, feel, and behave in any given situation. An interesting theory on mindset developed by Dr. Carol Dweck, a psychologist, distinguishes between a “growth mindset” and a “fixed mindset.”  

This theory is based on Dr. Dweck’s research with children. In her work, she found that children with a fixed mindset were mainly concerned with how smart they are.  This led them to prefer tasks which they do well and avoid those on which they may make mistakes and do not look smart. In contrast, she discovered that those children who had a growth mindset wanted to challenge themselves to increase their abilities, even if they fail at first.

If you are thinking that the findings of the aforementioned research applies only to children, think again! Adults also can lean more towards one mindset than the other. If Specifically, those with a fixed mindset are more likely to give up easily, avoid challenges, and view failure as a negative thing. These persons also tend to view feedback as personal criticism, hide flaws so they won’t be judged by others, and believe that intelligence is something that is fixed and cannot be improved.  On the other hand, those with a growth mindset believe that they can develop ability (through practice, for example), are open to constructive criticism, persist in the face of setbacks, embrace challenges, and view failures as opportunities to learn and grow

So, you may be asking, what is the reason I should have a growth mindset? Well, when we develop this type of mindset, it is much better for our overall emotional and  mental health.  And, in addition, it also will likely lead to less burnout and fewer psychological problems.  

If you find that you have a fixed mindset, there is hope!  Neuroscience has revealed that the brain is “plastic” (known as neuroplasticity) and thus can be changed over time as new neural pathways grow.  There are things that we can do to change our brains, so to speak, in a way to help move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.  The following are just some recommendations that may be beneficial:

  1. Replace the word “failing” with the word “learning.” This can help you to change how you view failures.
  2. Instead of being fearful of challenges and running away from them, view them as opportunities to grow to be a better person.
  3. Acknowledge that you are a human being and that you have imperfections.  Then do what you can to work on your areas of weakness.
  4. Make a decision that you will be more open to constructive criticism from others and learn from such feedback.
  5. Don’t give up when you face a setback.  Determine that you will move forward, even if it is painful and a struggle to do so.

These are just some things you can do to change your mindset. It will take effort and commitment on your part to put these things into place. But, with perseverance, it can happen. Why not begin today!



Photo by: Julia Cameron

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