How To Develop a Growth Mindset: Here’s How I Did It

brain developmnent

If you are looking for ways to develop a growth mindset, you have come to the right place.

I come from a fixed mindset household, I grew up with a fixed mindset… And now I am successfully moving towards a growth mindset.

brain developmnent

It’s a life-long pursuit, of course, but I’m well on the way.

And here I will share with you how you can also get a growth mindset.

Let’s start with a quick recap:

Fixed Mindset

In a fixed mindset people believe their traits are fixed.

You’re either good at something or you’re not, and there’s no way to change that.

And when you believe your traits are fixed, your traits, skills and qualities, define you.

When your traits and skills define you, any failure stings deeply because it reaches you at the core of your identity. When you fail, it means that you are a failure.

Can you start seeing how a fixed mindset is deeply harmful for you?

Since failing means you are a failure, fixed mindset people shy away from challenges to protect their ego and their social standing.

A huge fear of fixed mindset people indeed is failing publicly. When they fail publicly they are “found out” for the failure they are, and that’s a stigma they’ll never be able to overcome. How could they? Their traits are fixed!

To avoid ego burns and permanent loss of social standing, fixed mindset people spend their effort trying to appear good. They only engage in what they’re already good at, stay in their comfort zone and and meticulously avoid pushing their limits further.

Maybe they tell themselves “they would be good if they did”, but that’s mostly ego candy stories they tell themselves to prop their self esteem up. They never really try, because they could fail and then they can’t tell themselves the fake stories anymore.

When they fail indeed they’ll still try to cling to their stories. They’ll say it was someone else’s fault and they’ll do their best to shift blame.

That’s the perfect recipe for living wasting a life making excuses instead of living and experiencing life to the fullest.
Fixed mindset people never grow and commit the ultimate sin: they never realize their full potential.

Social Fixed Mindset

When you combine a fixed mindset with poor social skills, the result is that you will always be stuck with sub-par social skills.

Fewer friends, fewer and less appealing partners options and, in general, a less satisfying lifestyle compared to the one you’d have once you reached social proficiency.

When you are in the Any social faux pas means people will see how socially awkward you are so.. So you never do anything social!

Does the following scenarios sound familiar?social fear

  • You’d like to attend that event… But you don’t go

You might end up not talking to anyone.
Then you will feel like a reject and everyone around will see what a wallflower you are

  • You like her, but do nothing

What if she refuses you? It means you’re unattractive. Better not go, so I can keep telling myself she might have liked me and I can have a chance… Sometimes… In the future…

  • You’d like to join your friends.. But you don’t go

They’re going playing football, but you don’t go as you fear being poor at it; they go to skydiving but you’re terrified of showing yourself terrified.

  • Yo don’t understand, but are afraid of asking questions

Your boss presentation made no sense.
But what if you’ll make a stupid question?
Everyone will think you’re stupid. So you say nothing and never realize nobody else understood squat.

Growth Mindset

People with a growth mindset people believe they will improve and get better with practice -and failures-.

Growth mindset people look forward to challenges because it make them grow and improve.

Make no mistake, failure still can be painful, but failure does not define growth mindset people.

It simply means they aren’t good yet. Yet is the keyword in a growth mindset.
And failure after failure, they will get good.

Social Growth Mindset

Socially awkward people with a growth mindset are much less likely to stay socially awkward for the long haul.

They’re less likely to hide at home, more likely to take risks and more likely to learn from feedback as they don’t have the strong need to protect their egos.

They might not enjoy social situations and certainly they won’t enjoy awkward moments.
But they’re no paralyzed by them.
They’re not afraid of being defined by a bad joke, a rejection or by a group of three that doesn’t open to include them.

An while it may hurt, they know that the more awkward and embarrassing situations they go through, the more the improve.

That sounds typical self development trite BS, doesn’t it?

Well, it’s with a growth mindset that you lay the foundation for it to stop being trite BS and starts becoming your reality instead.

Advantages of a growth mindset:

  • Ability to stare at your reality and weaknesses without pain

Ray Dalio says you must learn to love reality, even when it hurts.

Fixed mindset people can’t manage that: their ego-protecting mechanism will destot reality for them.

If you’re poor socially start telling yourself the truth: you suck right now. And that’s great.

Just imagine how much better your life is going to be. Because now you’re going to change that.

  • Being not yet good is your starting point, not your destiny

It’s damn freeing to know that however bad you are at anything… That’s not your destiny and that’s not who you are.

That’s only your current situation, and you always have the power to change that.

  • Bad social interactions are training

When you start looking at bad social interactions as training, then a magical thing will happen: you will look forward to social interactions, be it good or bad.

How To Develop A Growth Mindset

Done with the theory.

I hope you’re now convinced you need to adopt a growth mindset? If not, make sure you do before proceeding.

Tony Robbins righteously says your willingness to change is the very first step to change.

So if you’re willing to adopt a growth mindset, let’s start:

#1. Rewrite Painful Past

A fixed mindset is propped by fear of looking bad.

And the times in the past when we looked at our worst function as fear-laden baggages.

Like a child who’s been burned by fire our most embarrassing moments have been burned in our memories and our subconscious do everything to avoid anything similar.

Those memories are the nails on your cross and the clips on your wing preventing you from taking off.
Let’s begin our change by removing the ballast first.

It will hurt a bit in the beginning, but it’s pain that will set you free.
Start thinking and reliving of all your most embarrassing moments in life:

  • That time you said hi to your friend but it was someone else (I did that)
  • When you forgot your lines at the class performance
  • When you fell and people laughed
  • When she told you she doesn’t date fat / short / dark / whatever (I’ve been told worse)
  • When you burped or let one rip a bit too loudly
  • ….

Think about those painful moments.

Don’t put your hands on your face, don’t make weird facial expressions and don’t stop thinking about it.
Stay with that pain for a while.

It’s not that unbearable after all, is it?

You’re still alive.

Now it’s time to need to start changing what all those moments mean to you.
Pick a a couple of these re-framing techniques that best suit your personality and tell yourself:

  • I’m glad about them because they made me stronger
  • I’m proud I can think about them and laugh
  • It’s providing me with the anger I need to move ahead
  • I’m proud that I did it no matter the result
  • I’m glad it happened, so I can prove to myself I keep going no matter what -that’s the kind of man I am-
  • F*ck that noise. Other weaker men would crow. I’ll do it another thousand times

Share The Pain

Brene Brown in Daring Greatly says that shame is a social feelings and it’s cured with a social balm.

She recommends you share your most embarrassing moments and speak about it.
Shame dies when you openly talk about it and share with people close to you.

Relive Shame With Power

Relive those scenarios while you are in a strong state.

Meditate and imagine you flying like superman.
Then go back to those memories in a powerful state. Imagine a time you felt great and then think about those memories.

Laugh as you think about them.
Do it enough times and those memories will lose their grip on you.

Change Your Memories

Tony Robbins calls this “erasing technique“.

erasing technique

He says you can change your memories of painful events by re-enacting them differently in your imagination.

Imagine a silly music was playing.
Imagine you growing bigger like Hulk and punch the motherfu*ker(s) into deep space. Think you laughed along with everyone else.

Do it enough times and the memory won’t sting anymore.

I prefer not to use this technique as ideally you’ll want to own up to your mistakes.
Ideally you can bear your painful moments and change the way you look at them without “changing them”.

But if you need it, there’s no shame in this. Just do what works.

#2: Associate Pain to Fixed Mindset

Tony Robbins says to change any neuro-association you have to feel pain and discomfort for what you want to change.

Look at your life and realize that you’re not living because a fixed mindset. Think of what you don’t have and what you have missed so far. For example:

  • Evenings at home
  • No parties
  • No partners
  • No friends
  • … Add as much as you can.

Think of your friends instead.

Get jealous!

They’re enjoying life and having a good time.
Trips with girlfriends and boyfriends, parties, networking and career opportunities.

Hate your fixed mindset in your guts.

Now start looking back in disgust, you’re about to change that.

#3. Associate Pleasure To Growth Mindset

Think of what you will get moving to a growth mindset.

Associate pleasure with all the opportunities.

  • Friends & partners
  • Growth & improvement
  • Strength & Resilience
  • The power of walking to an event on your own and leave with friends
  • Walk into a bar and -it’s not a joke- leaving with phone numbers

#4. Associate Your Identity To Growth

Identity, how you are and how you consider yourself drives behavior.

Start taking pride in who you are as a man with a growth mindset.
Write down the new you, tell people about the new you and you will also put the Commitment and Consistency principle on your side.

This man moving forward no matter the obstacles will be the new you. Start taking pride in the new you.

Also read:

#5: Learn The Science Behind It

In a world full of bling bling and unfulfilled marketing promises it’s useful to know this is not woo-hoo science.

Read Mindset, Carol Dweck’s research-based book on Growth Mindset.

Do know that the brain IS plastic.
It means it can change, it does change and you can drive that change. The Brain That Changes Itself explains how neurons that fire together wire together.

The Talent Code explains myelination, how the more we do something the more natural it becomes.

Ramachandran makes it clear that the brain is a mass of neurons that never sees the light and literally makes up our reality.
And we can change that reality in ways that suits as best.

That being said, also know the limitations.
Read “pop-psychology myths” and “self-help myths“.
But in spite of the scientific limitations in reproducing the effects of a growth mindsets, they are real (also read “psychology replication crisis“).

#4: Change Every Day

Charles Duhigg says that habits take and repetition to develop and become natural.

You need to build new neurological pathways and disempower the old ones through disuse.
It simply means you need not to think like used to think and practice your new mindset as much as possible.

The Power of Habits says that new habits require determination, grit and repetition over time.
But that’s good news: willpower works like a muscle which grows with time, so this is great practice.

For the daily grind Carol Dweck herself advises to:

  • Hear your fixed mindset voice

Listen daily when your fixed mindset speaks to you.

It will tell you some people are too good and talented. It will tell you better off not trying because you might fail or embarrass yourself.

When you fail, it will tell you “of course, you have no talent, you better quit”.

  • Recognize you have a choice

Whether you choose to heed the fixed mindset or you choose to follow the growth mindset is up to you.

  • Talk back to the fixed voice with a growth one

Don’t lie or brag, be real.

Say you’re not sure you can manage and you can well fail, but you will learn and you will move forward. If you don’t try you didn’t save face, you lost anyway.
That’s what shameful for the new you.

Then be proud you’re going forward, this is your new identity, this is what you will build your self esteem around.

  • Choose the growth mindset

Go for it.

Learn from the mistakes, accept and learn from the criticism.
Be proud you’ve gone for it, no matter the result. That’s a new precedent that will reinforce your new identity.

#5. Get Excited About Learning

This is the most powerful, and resilient growth mindset:

Getting excited at the prospect of growing and learning, and filtering everything through that opportunity.

In your daily life you will come across feelings associated with fixed mindset thinking.
Always be replacing those feelings with empowering, growth ones.

Here’s some examples:

  • Jealousy towards someone far better = wow, what can I learn?
  • Failure = nice I went for it, what candid I learn
  • Painful criticism with push-back feelings = I’m excited, I’ll listen and soon get better
  • Pain of finding shortcomings = great, it means there’s room for getting better

You will try to make excuses for your failure, you will avoid difficult situations and you will be jealous of those who are so much better than you are.

Always replace those feelings with getting excited about your new identity and about being the learner.

Someone is better than you are? What can you learn?

#6. Shield Yourself Against Fixed Mindset

Most people live with a fixed mindset and/or are not used to be pushing boundaries and making big demands of themselves.

So in your life many people around you will try to drag you down with their disempowering talk.

Don’t try to change those people, but avoid them and cut them out of your life.
When you hear anything fixed-mindset-like, repeat three times in your head:

I can do it if I want to
I can do it if I want to
I can do it if I want to

Summary

A growth mindset will not give you the strength to go for all the social interactions you need to to get good socially.

It will make you want to go for it.
So as you improve your social skills, you will also enjoy the struggle.

A growth mindset will also will also make you less afraid of failures and put them in perspective: they are there to show you the right path forward.


Sources:
This article is the first part of my social skills guide. Check the full Social Mastery Guide here.
Further resources not linked in the article which I used to write this article:
Quora
Mindset by Carol Dweck
Carol Dweck speech at Stanford
Opencolleges.edu

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