30 days of growth mindset: day 9

While I was struggling with how to “implement” a growth mindset over the last few days, and was writing yesterday’s post, I listened to a podcast by April Perry and Saren Eyre Loosli from Power of Moms, a community that I occasionally connect to. The podcast (Ready to go from OWW to WOW?) refers to some resources developed by Todd Herman, which move us from OWW to WOW –  and mentions Carol Dweck’s book Mindset. This material is basically another take on learning to move into a growth mindset, so it was very timely for me.

I totally got this. The podcast starts of by discussing the concept of the OWW mindset. The way I understand it, Todd Herman has described what appears to be a vicious cycle, where we (1) look at our current results and compare this to our ideal results (perfect mother, perfect body, immaculate house, balanced life etc), we (2) begin to judge and criticise ourselves for not being good enough, which (3) creates frustration, low self-worth and stress which then (4) prompts avoidance, procrastination and time wasting. So we stay stuck negatively judging and criticising ourselves and feeling pretty rotten. (Our brain hurts, hence oww!)

Compare this to the WOW! mindset which is where we (1) look at our current results and instead of comparing it to an (unattainable) “ideal”, we measure how we’ve improved, which (2) helps us engage in self-talk around encouragement and support, which in turn (3) creates confidence, motivation and high self-worth, which (4) prompts action, vision and momentum.

It’s very similar to what I’ve been talking about, right? Encouraging and supporting yourself when you’ve not done well, instead of telling yourself you can’t do it and you’re a failure.

With this process, the key is to catch yourself at the moment when you start comparing what you’ve done today to the ideal day, or whatever you negatively compare yourself against, and stop it, and replace it with more positive self-talk by finding a small win.

One of my favourite people, Lisa Grace Byrne, describes this in her book Replenish as “catching a weed”. This is what she calls the first step in changing your self talk. You have to learn to notice when you’re thinking negatively about yourself. She observes that when you first start to do this, there are some “red flag” words that can tell you when you’re thinking like this. They include: “always”, “never” and “should”, and they are often accompanied by an overwhelming feeling that this [thing] is objectively true and will never change.

To help you get into the WOW! mindset cycle, April and Saren’s podcast suggests that you set aside some time to look at your achievements from the week and see how you’ve improved – not where you’re fallen down. (April also refers to a movie quote that someone posted on their Facebook group: “From failing you learn; from success, not so much”). In doing this, try to identify ways that things have changed and how far you’ve come from where you were. The tiniest improvement counts. Last week I didn’t exercise at all. This week I went for a walk around the block once. Go me!

Another thing April and Saren talk about is considering whether you would speak to your kids in the same way you speak to yourself when you let yourself down or fail at something. You wouldn’t would you? You’d find something they/you had done well, or had done better than last time, even if it was the tiniest thing, and focus on that.

You don’t focus on the messy room, you acknowledge the shelf that they tidied up. Hooray! This time last week they couldn’t form the first loop of their shoelace, this week they can. Fabulous!

I didn’t vacuum the floors, but I did wash up. My boss made lots of corrections to my report, but I brought up a really good point no one had thought of.

I don’t know what you do if you’ve dug as deep as you can and honestly cannot find a single positive thing to focus on. The optimist in me hopes that I’d always be able to find one tiny spark in the darkness. I think if I found myself in a place where I consistently couldn’t do that, it would probably be time to seek professional help. I’ve been there and got through, but that period is always in the back of my mind as a place I might one day return to. I think that if I start to feel like that’s where I’m heading, I have access to more options to get through it now than I did then.

Anyway, I wanted to post about the podcast because it popped up at exactly the right time when I was struggling this week, and offered another perspective on what I was trying to do.

I’ve written a lot of theoretical stuff on what I’ve been finding out about the growth mindset lately. Tomorrow I’m going to post about some of the things I’ve actually been learning. Putting it into practice. Shit gets real!

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