Growth Mindset by Lieutenant Colonel Theresa Bodnar

Spring is the time for things to bloom and grow- and you are no exception. What and how you think influences your ability to grow, change, overcome obstacles, and be happy.

This month’s article is about developing a growth mindset.

How does a person with a growth mindset think? He/she learns from experiences, embraces challenges, and sees effort as the path to mastery. This is actually a learned way of thinking, our minds don’t usually go there first…and it is further developed through conscious practice.

Suppose you fail a test, your boyfriend or girlfriend breaks up with you, or you don’t make the soccer team. Your first thought might be, “What is wrong with me?”. This is a fixed mindset thought and usually puts you on the judger path, where you blame yourself or others and get stuck in negativity.

What if you replaced that thought with, “What happened and what can I learn?”. This question focuses you on the facts and puts you on a solution-centered learner’s path. Instead of judging yourself and others, you look for a better way to do or be next time.

Your mindset affects your mood, mental flexibility, and behaviors. If you want to be happy, agile, and live well, developing a growth mindset is key. Your writing exercises this month are going to walk you through the process.

TB’s 3 step process for creating a growth mindset.

Think about a recent situation that left you feeling frustrated and sad.

Step 1: Identify your mind chatter. Mind chatter is all of the thoughts running through your brain. Write them down and how they are making you feel. Chances are, your first thoughts are fixed and have you feeling stressed, angry, or sad.

Step 2: Talk back to your mind chatter. All those negative thoughts, let’s take them to court. For every negative thought, write down a counterargument. For example, “This isn’t true because…”. Notice that you may start feeling less stressed and more empowered when you stand up to those negative thoughts.

Step 3: Ask different questions. First ask, “How else can I think about this?”. Literally write down this question and your responses to it. Next ask, “What can I learn from this?”, and write down your answers. Notice how you feel: better?, happier?, more hopeful and optimistic? By switching your questions, you’ve just changed your mindset from fixed to growth and put yourself on a learner’s path.

Keep this 3-step process in mind next time you are faced with a challenge and make the choice to have a growth mindset. It takes consistent practice to build an enduring growth mindset, but always remember that you are worth the time and effort, and your happiness, just like your mindset, is up to you.

BodnerAbout the Author: Lieutenant Colonel Theresa BODNAR, Monthly Mentor, is a full time Soldier in the Army, a certified Army Master Resilience Trainer (MRT), a Positive Psychology Practitioner, Eating Psychology Educator, Author of Get UPP!: Understanding Positive Psychology, and an aspiring Motivational Speaker. She is excited to get to know you and share all sorts of positive psychology tools, inspirational blogs, and poetry with you. Read More…

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