In high school, my friend, Stan and I were amateur psychologists. He would introduce his latest categorization of people by saying, “There are two kinds of people in the world.” For example, there are those who see the cup as half full (optimists) and others who see it as half empty (pessimists).
The exceptionally joyful see the cup as overflowing, and the extremely negative see that cup as chipped, stained and half emptied of dirty, bitter scum.
After far too many categorizations, I had the final word. There are two kinds of people in the world: those who think there are two kinds of people, and those who don’t.
In her book, Mindset: the new psychology of success, Carol Dweck, an expert in motivation and personality psychology, describes two types of mindsets.
With the fixed mindset, we see our abilities as limited and stable. With the growth mindset, we recognize that we can improve our abilities and develop our talents over time.
This has implications in every aspect of our lives, including parenting, teaching, coaching and relationships.
As parents we might label one child the creative one and another the shy one as if their talents and personalities were permanent. These labels are often internalized and the child may come to believe in their limitations.
You might think of yourself as not creative, fearful of public speaking or never good at math and with a fixed mindset, never see yourself becoming more artistic or musical with training and practice, challenging and overcoming your fears, and learning to be both skilled and comfortable with numbers.
A growth mindset recognizes possibilities and potentials. It fosters hope and can motivate us to learn, practice and improve. Just because this is how we have been doesn’t mean we will always remain the same. We can grow – at any age.
Not only can a mindset shade how you see yourself and others, it can limit your relationships. Family members can fall into habits of behaviour, replaying the same interactions and seeing one another as caricatures of their whole selves. Over time, they don’t expect to see any improvement, so they don’t even work to improve their relationships.
A growth mindset with respect to relationships recognizes the potential to improve communication and foster the evolution of each relationship.
Consider how you have come to see yourself, others and your world. Have you been limiting yourself and your relationships through a fixed mindset? In what areas of your life do you see the possibility of further growth?