How to develop intelligence by changing your mindset?

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Many of us stick to certain negative believes that are very hard to let go. The flourishing personality and the level of creative potential are often underestimated by the inner critic. We discourage ourselves from being open-minded and enthusiastic. We do not see opportunities, but only problems that are not possible to solve. Instead of challenging ourselves, we tend to give up easily. Getting into the so called “fixed mindset” stops us from dynamic creative development making us simply frustrated and unhappy. On the contrary, a “growth mindset” supports learning processes and makes us more successful in whatever we choose to do.

Text and illustration by Joanna Wróblewska

“I am not creative,” “I will never be as good as other designers,” “Students from my group are way better than I am,” “I will never get to the point of being successful,” “I wish I would have more self-esteem, but this is not possible” – how many times did you repeat such sentences to yourself? Does your inner critic judge your actions all the time without giving you any break? Do you consider yourself worse than others? You can stop the vicious circle of criticizing and blaming yourself for failures by changing the mindset. Is it that easy? Yes, it is.

For two decades, Carol Dweck had been researching the idea of “growth mindset” and “fixed mindset” that illustrate two extremely different approaches to problem solving and self-development. If you believe that you can improve and change, you have a way bigger chance to become successful. Just recognize your mindset and appreciate your basic qualities! Also, define and welcome your talents. You can use them as a starting point in self-development and discover the power of positive and supportive thinking. After all, a passion for learning is much more nutritious than a hunger of approval.

Got stacked in Fixed Mindset?
Firstly, it is important to realize what is a “fixed mindset”. If you believe that your potential, intelligence, character or personality are static and non-changeable, you are probably in the “fixed mindset”. Is it hard to believe that you can learn new things now? Is it important for you to look smart in front of others? Are you afraid of failures?

In the “fixed mindset”, people tend to avoid any potential challenges and stick to what they already know. They are afraid to ask questions, making mistakes and learning in the process. It is hard for them to accept any feedback or criticism, because they take it personal. They easily get defensive and discouraged. Blaming others and seeing themselves as victims becomes their standard reaction. This is why it is so hard for them to improve or change. It is just not worth it, not possible, not welcome.

Being honest and admitting that you locked yourself down is the first important step towards the “growth mindset”! Identifying common reactions to feedback or call to action will help you to become more aware of thinking patterns and believes constantly repeated by your mind.

Recognize reactions, build awareness
There are four basic types of reactions that people use to justify their avoidance and negative attitude in the “fixed mindset”. Do you recognize any of those?

  • People tend to blame themselves (“I’m useless”, “It’s my fault”, “I’m stupid”, “I’m not creative”, “I made a fool of myself again”);
  • People behave like they are victims (“It’s the weather”, “I’m tired”, “I don’t have time for it”, “I don’t have money to realize my dreams”, “The world is bad enough”, “I always have bad luck”);
  • People tend to be extremely positive (“Oh, it will be all fine”, “I’ll do it tomorrow”, “I don’t know why I don’t take care of myself, but it will get better soon”, “It all does not matter to me”);
  • People tend to ignore important events, issues or problems (“It’s nothing”, “Everybody feels like that sometimes”, “I don’t care about it”, “There are other important things on my plate now”, “Easy come, easy go”).

Those limitations should never stop your from growing, so identify them and then get over them as soon as possible. Changing the mindset can become a big effort, but it is truly worth it. After letting go old patterns and stiff believes you will feel lighter, happier and more self-confident. Sounds promising, doesn’t it?

Growth mindset is the key!
In a “growth mindset” you can learn literally anything you want. You allow things to happen and believe that the change will come sooner or later. Step by step, you are following your dreams. And what if a wave of frustration hits you? Nothing, because with the “growth mindset” you will persevere! The positive mindset gives you energy to try hard and fail without doubting in yourself. Learning will be the most important aspect on your journey towards the unknown future.

In the “growth mindset” the effort and attitude determine everything. They change your approach to feedback and let you deal with criticism much easier. Being enthusiastic, inspired and open-minded will support you in difficult times.

“Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better? Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them? Why look for friends or partners who will just shore up your self-esteem instead of ones who will also challenge you to grow? And why seek out the tried and true, instead of experiences that will stretch you? The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.”
– Carol Dweck (at brainpickings.org)

Learn more:
Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset
Mindset by Carol Dweck
The Power of Believing that You Can Improve (Ted Talk)

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