As we enter April, I have started to prepare what I will grow in my little garden this year. I always get excited at the thought of what will successfully grow, as I am still learning and developing a green thumb. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with gardening, as I have been quite successful with some vegetables and herbs growing versus others. But I haven’t given up, which has got me thinking a lot about how we maintain growth in our own personal lives and why a growth mindset is important.
Carol Dweck is a lead researcher on the topic of having a growth mindset. By having a growth mindset, people are capable of developing their abilities through hard work, dedication, a love of learning, and resilience. On the other hand, many have a fixed mindset, which is the belief that our basic qualities are simply due to fixed traits. Particularly the belief that you can achieve success by being talented without any extra effort. Research has shown that by obtaining a growth mindset, your brain can develop new connections, as well as maintain and strengthen existing ones.
These two types of mindsets have a really big impact on one’s learning experience. Many children, youth, and university students see their struggles with figuring out their assignments as extremely defeating, which then impacts their motivation. Many individuals see their difficulties with school as the definitive representation of whether they will be successful or not. However, if they are able to take on a growth mindset, they will lead to more improvement, greater growth, and success (whatever this may look like for them). It is important to teach and encourage students to never give up!
Having a growth mindset over a fixed mindset will also impact how people get the most out of their therapeutic experience. Many people come into therapy already feeling defeated, and sometimes it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
A growth mindset is important, even in therapy. It can help individuals overcome moments where they feel helpless, hopeless, stuck, and confused. It is amazing to see my clients implement a growth mindset into their healing journey, as they become much more empowered and equipped to manage those moments when things are difficult. It is important for us to stay in the process, rather than focusing on the outcomes, as the process is where our growth mindsets can really lead to opportunities for learning and growth.
Positive change does not mean that we found a solution, but rather that we are open to keep trying and see our setbacks as opportunities to persist and reach our goals. Even if we don’t get it right the first time, we can still learn so much from that experience. You deserve to believe that what you do matters, and that you can learn and face the challenges and mistakes you are given.
Carol Dweck talks about the “power of yet”, and how adding “yet” or “not yet” can help build persistence and confidence. It is easy to get caught up in what is not happening now or think that things will never happen. If we praise and encourage people to engage in the process, they are likely to embrace lifelong learning.
Try to allow yourself to embrace the setbacks, and even if you feel that you can’t figure it out, stay in the process, and just remember that you just haven’t figured it out…yet.