Mindset. Attitude. Belief. What do we tell ourselves when faced with things we consider challenging? “I’m not good at writing. I can’t paint. I don’t work well in a group. I have trouble speaking in front of others. I’m no good at cooking. I don’t participate in sports because I am not any good.” Sound familiar? Here’s the thing. When we think like that, we are imposing limits on potential. We assume that things can’t be any better or that we can be better. We may decide to avoid things in case we might fail or look foolish. It becomes difficult to appreciate other people’s successes when we think we will fall short. Sometimes we might even find some kind of pleasure in other people’s failures to boost our own esteem. Such thoughts are limiting beliefs that can turn into self-fulfilling prophecies.
Despite what they say about assume, you know, that it makes an ass of u and me, let’s make some assumptions. One assumption might be that having such beliefs or mindsets about ourselves and what we can or cannot do, does not lead to happiness or truly flourishing. Another assumption might be that there’s no point in trying because it won’t make any difference. Still another assumption might be that it’s a matter of destiny so that’s that.
Now let’s look at what is true and real. With one little tweak in our thought process; by finishing that thought with one little 3 letter word, everything changes. Here’s how it works. For example, let’s say , “I would really like to be a good cook, but every time I try a recipe, it flops. As much as I’d like to prepare a tasty meal or dessert, what’s the point?” Suppose we reframe that to, I’ll continue to work on those recipes. They just haven’t turned out great yet.”
Another example is what prompted me to write this. I’d been getting so frustrated with my computer upgrades. Why do upgrades come with complications? The previous version was very simple and straight forward. Making progress was seemingly near impossible. As I was ruminating around with dead end thoughts, it suddenly occurred to me to say, “Okay. This has been mind-boggling but I just haven’t figured this stuff out yet.” Adding yet to the end of my reframe, made me feel free and hopeful. I felt that, yes, the computer changes have been daunting. Simply saying I haven’t figured them out yet, opened me up to the achievable. I knew that as long as I keep at it, I’ll be successful.
Carol Dweck, famous for her work on fixed and growth mindsets, tells of the time she visited a high school program in Chicago. The students had to pass a number of classes to graduate. She noticed that some of their papers had written at the top of their exams, “not yet.” In this way, the students were not locked into failure. What this did was keep those students on a learning curve and gave them a path to the future.
Buy using that little 3 letter word, we can avoid the “tyranny of now,” and open ourselves up to the universe of possibility.
Comments are welcomed.