What is a Mindset?
Before we get in to why a fixed mindset is good, let’s get a few definitions out of the way. Your Mindset is the basic structure of your belief system, a foundation of beliefs and attitudes. Over time, we establish concrete attitudes and beliefs about ourselves and others. They can be both positive and negative.
How many times have you said you’re not good at something and you believe it 100%? Or perhaps you thought a childhood friend as shy and no matter what they do to disprove that as an adult, you still think it?
Science states there are two types of mindsets – fixed and dynamic. While popular opinion says that a dynamic mindset is good, AKA THE one to have, I’ve come to believe that in certain circumstances, a fixed mindset is very beneficial.
I believe you can have both.
The Difference Between a Dynamic and Fixed Mindset
A fixed mindset is a person who believes that their qualities, attitudes, or capabilities are set in stone and nothing can be done to change them. They feel these qualities can’t be changed, and saddest of all – that whatever they’re missing in life cannot change or evolve, that this is what is true and it cannot be changed.
The truly sad part is many of us go around with these core beliefs and don’t realize it. For example, we may say to our friends that we know we’re beautiful inside and love our bodies, yet when we try on jeans that are too small for us we instantly mutter “suck it in, you ugly fatso.”
For me, as a survivor of childhood trauma, I didn’t even realize many of these fixed beliefs – many of them quite awful, even existed until much later in life.
When I was young, during the worst of my trauma years, my father would tell me I was stupid and worthless. He told me I better hope I grew up pretty, because that’s all that I would be able to use to get ahead in life.
My mother left me – like, disappeared – when I was in second grade, and certain family members told me this was because I wasn’t lovable or worth it.
These things were ingrained early on in my life and became fixed beliefs. Even later on, when I was an adult, I could tell myself these things were not true, but when I got upset with myself or failed at something, I would remember what people told me and know it was true.
A dynamic, or growth mindset is led with the belief that your qualities and attitudes can change and evolve over time. People with dynamic mindsets challenge their behaviors and beliefs with an open mind through mindfulness, time and experience. They know that their qualities and attitudes can change for the better.
It wasn’t until years later working with a therapist, that I began to realize just the number of awful fixed attitudes I had about myself, others, and my general outlook on life.
We should all check our beliefs and attitudes and review them. And if we find some negative fixed mindsets, we should strive to convert them into dynamic ones. It’s hard work, and depending on if you’ve had any traumatic experiences, very difficult, but it can be done.
If a Fixed Mindset is Good, How Can it Help me?
While everyone on the internet is talking about how a growth mindset is the only way to go and a fixed mindset is unhealthy and detrimental, I agree 100% – for the most part. But I also believe there are a few things that you can give yourself permission to have a fixed, locked-in mindset about.
You see, after years of being told awful things, believing them, and then short changing myself on opportunities, I decided to stop listening and rewrite these FIXED MINDSETS.
Below are 3 fixed mindsets I vowed to always keep fixed, no matter what anyone tells me or has happened in my life.
Mindset #1 – I Will Not Be Sabotaged
Never. Ever. Not by anyone, or worse – myself! I confess that I have been so horrible with the bad self talk over the years. Why am I affirming outright lies my father would yell at me when he was drunk? Or when I was a little girl and overhearing my grandmother say, “You know she’s going to end up just like her mother.”
At the time, I didn’t have the cognitive ability to analyze those remarks and truly find out the intent of them. It took me years of therapy to be able to dissect them for what they were – an expression of hatred toward my mother and an attempt to control me.
Looking back, though, I see how their words and other’s settled into my head and stayed there, like a toxic mold that I could never get rid of. The comments would grow and fester, sabotaging anything I really tried to do in life. Like my foster “mother” saying “If you keep eating cookies, you’ll wind up fat and no one will like you.” For her, it was most likely an off-handed comment because she was annoyed with my eating. For me, it was the beginning of an eating disorder and hatred toward my body. For years, every time I tried to diet I would self-sabotage and eat cookies. I would say, “Yep, she was right, I’m gross, I’m fat. I’m unlovable.”
My therapist taught me that these were invalid and untrue remarks and it ultimately didn’t matter why they were said to me, although dissecting it was helpful. The agenda was simple. It was done to control me. Control what I did and what I thought in a way that they were comfortable with. Maybe, in the end, a few were jealous of the way I loved myself and went for things in life and wanted to knock me down.
It didn’t mean they were right. Just because they were family or “trusted” adult figures, what made them them experts? If I zoomed out and looked down on my life and looked as these people, how were they were living their lives? Were they examples of living a good, mindful life? Did their actions couple with their words?
I will not be sabotaged by anyone’s agenda or beliefs about me, nor will I continue to allow myself to believe those unfounded opinions and validate and/or accept them. They are not valid.
Valkyrie Mantra: “I refuse to allow myself or anyone to dispel any toxicity on me. I will not allow anyone to downplay or criticize my goals, achievements, or beliefs. What matters is that I know the true purpose of them, and that they are good for me.”
Mindset #2 – I Love Myself The Most
You’ve by now probably heard the saying, “If you don’t take care of yourself first, you can’t do a good job taking care of others.” Our society has evolved to revere the people who do it all and do it for everyone. We work longer hours than most countries, we take fewer vacations than most – I mean, look at moms today. Many run a household of more than one kid, a husband, pets, carry all of the emotional baor, and work outside the home.
And yet we have all the mom memes showing how miserable we are, slugging gallons of wine complete with Tik Tok videos of us losing our shit.
I think this began with good intentions – work hard for people you love and prosper so they can prosper. Work hard for your kids and they will have a great life. Save animals, hungry children, be kind, and give, give, give. Make money. But if you never give to yourself, are you happy?
And so we fall into an endless pit of feeling empty, tired and listless. Our dreams are set aside so the husband can go back to college to fulfill his dream. Or the thought of starting a business has died because Kid A wants to go to a spendier school. The massage to help our aching back has to be canceled because a last minute soccer game was scheduled and Kid B can’t miss it.
Why? Because my fixed belief says I need to put others first.
But what if we changed our mindset?
What if the world didn’t end if I said no to that extra practise and got the massage? Would Kid B get kicked off the team? Would I want him on a team that had a coach who decided his player could not have any time outside of soccer? What if I told Kid A he would have to come up with the difference for the spendier school or go to one we could afford, because I NEED to start my business?
Maybe, by showing that I love myself enough to go after the things I want, I show my kids resilience and fortitude in pursuing things I need and working through those hurdles? And building off on that, I create an environment where I’m not depleted and full of anxiety, drinking a glass or two of wine every night, but exhibiting behavior that shows I am content. That I love myself, and therefore have the resources and energy to be there for others.
Valkyrie Mantra: “By putting myself first, I am able to be there for my friends, family, and others without suffering from self-neglect and falling victim to self-sabotage.”
Mindset #3 – Imperfection Is A Genius Thing
For years I suffered from being a total perfectionist. It wasn’t until my therapist helped me figure out that indeed I was, and why I should stop. I never thought I was a perfectionist because my fixed mindset told me I was not as good as everyone else, and my failures or things I quit were proof.
Digging into past experiences, I realized I was a perfectionist. This was because of two things – by showing I never made a mistake, I was perfect and therefore valuable. Because if you’re perfect, you’re worth something. And secondly, because of my anxiety, being perfect would mean I would never get in trouble, or be yelled at, or have some awful confrontation.
But it always felt like hiding who I really was.
The underlying shame of who I really was, a broken person, pretending to be otherwise.
Perfectionism was my shield.
And then I discovered Brené Brown and her book, The Gifts of Imperfection. This book opened up my eyes to the fact that I was full of shame of who I was, ashamed of my story, and way too worried what people might think of me. I had been told that I was too much in my real form. So unconsciously, I changed.
I discovered that being open and vulnerable was courageous. Being imperfect leads to growth and change. It’s brave, oh so brave! It is something I still struggle with, but by making it my third fixed mindset, I now believe it more than ever.
Valkyrie Mantra: “The ongoing act of being imperfect propels us to natural perfection. Allowing myself to be imperfect puts me in a forgiving self-status and allows me to grow, learn, and better myself. No one likes a person who acts perfect on the outside, because we all know it for what it is – self loathing and shame.”