• Melanie Lopes, MFT

Having a Growth Mindset Can Help

You may have heard of this idea that you can improve your life or find success by changing your mindset, or more specifically, by having a growth mindset. This is generally based on the idea that the way you think directly impacts the way you feel and the actions that you take, and therefore:

If you can change your thinking, you can change your life.

For many people when you hear “change your thinking” it often gets interpreted as “be more positive,” or shift to more positive thinking, more praise, and more optimism. And while positivity does help, developing a growth mindset is not just about being more positive and endlessly optimistic. There’s a bit more to it than that.

In this post, I’m going to go over some of the key components of a growth mindset and how developing a growth mindset can make a positive difference in your life.

growth mindset

What does it mean to have a growth mindset?

So starting with a basic overview, having a growth mindset means that you believe that you can grow and develop new skills, talents, and capabilities through persistent effort. With a growth mindset, you place a high value on learning and progress, rather than simply placing value on specific results or seeking instant gratification. You recognize there is a lot to gain through the process, regardless of the outcomes.

This requires positive thinking – being able to see challenges and obstacles as opportunities, rather than dead ends, and seeing mistakes and failures as learning experiences.

This doesn’t mean ignoring the bad things or denying reality. It means being realistic while also being optimistic. You can be realistic about potential obstacles or challenges and plan to address them accordingly, while remaining optimistic about overcoming them.

A growth mindset also requires believing in yourself and your abilities, being able to recognize your strengths, and also acknowledging what needs improvement. It means actively seeking ways to improve and taking responsibility for your mistakes, learning from them, and being kind to yourself through the process. (Being defensive, blaming, and unsure of yourself all serve as obstacles to personal growth.)

In addition to believing in yourself, with a growth mindset you also are willing to be flexible and keep an open mind. This allows you to try new things, experiment, and take risks, which opens up more opportunities and allows for creative problem-solving when things don’t go as you had hoped or planned.

self confidence

If you can embrace these qualities and develop a growth mindset, it can really change how you feel and how you feel about yourself, which in turn can vastly improve your quality of life.

What are the benefits of having a growth mindset?

It can make it easier to find joy and satisfaction in your life. When you are focused on the journey and not just the goal, you start to measure success and accomplishment differently. You’re able to find satisfaction in your efforts and progress, and you can find joy in learning, despite the difficulties you may be facing.

It improves self-awareness. With growth and learning as your goals, you are able to make a more realistic assessment of your abilities and what needs improvement, instead of denying your weaknesses or over-estimating your strengths.

It improves self-esteem. When you take the time to recognize the value of your efforts, acknowledge your progress, and appreciate what you are learning, you can start to feel better about yourself and take pride in what you do. With a growth mindset there's less room for comparison to others or seeing yourself as "less than" and instead you value and accept that everyone has their own unique path and process.

It’s an antidote to perfectionism. A growth mindset keeps you focused on progress, not perfection. When you are focused on learning and growth, you can feel satisfied with your efforts and feel good about yourself without feeling the need to prove yourself or have a "perfect" outcome.

It reduces anxiety, stress, and depression. When you measure success and accomplishment in terms of what you’ve learned or gained rather than solely relying on specific outcomes, you put less pressure on yourself, which can greatly reduce stress and anxiety. And by viewing failures and mistakes as learning experiences, you are less inclined to get down on yourself, or get stuck in feeling hopeless, discouraged, or depressed.

It helps build self-confidence. By continually recognizing your progress, gains, and accomplishments, you can start to feel more confident and build belief in your abilities.

You can feel more in control of your life. When you are able to take responsibility for your choices, shortcomings, and mistakes rather than blaming others or blaming certain circumstances, you can feel less like a victim and more empowered to create the life you want for yourself.

healthy relationship

It can improve your relationships. When you are willing to recognize your faults, be held accountable, and you are willing to learn, be flexible, and make improvements, this can help build trust, reduce conflict, and allow you to deepen your connection in relationships.

It helps build resilience. Believing in your ability to move through challenges and overcome obstacles while embracing the opportunities for learning and growth helps you remain optimistic and empowered, and paves the way for a quicker recovery.

Having a growth mindset doesn’t always guarantee your success, but it can certainly help you get there and help provide more fulfilling, satisfying life experiences, as well as endless opportunities for personal growth.

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