What Is a Fixed Mindset?
Your mindset refers to the way you think about yourself and what you are capable of. It is the lens through which you see the world, and it affects everything from your relationships to your job performance.
A fixed mindset is a belief that your qualities are set in stone. It means that if someone gives you constructive feedback, you do not believe they can help you improve. If someone asks for help, you think of how much better off they will be without you. If someone praises your work, then you believe it must have been easy for them to do so well themselves — instead of taking pride in their success and wanting to do better next time.
This kind of thinking puts up walls between you and learning new things; instead of enjoying the process of growing and learning from mistakes, it makes each failure feel like a reflection on who you are as a person rather than just one part of an ongoing journey towards becoming better at something.
Is Having a Fixed Mindset Bad?
We all have fixed mindsets at times. The problem is that they can be harmful, and they can keep us from growing and learning. They lead us to think we are limited in what we are capable of accomplishing. When you think about yourself as being bad at math, for example, it might make sense not to study for tests or try out for the math team at school — even though those things could help you improve your skills.
Fixed mindsets are a type of self-talk that is negative, rigid, and inflexible. It causes us to tie our self-worth to our performance, making it too easy for us to feel like failures when we fail or do not perform as well as we might have hoped.
But fixed mindsets are not always bad. For example, if you are an Olympic gymnast and you are practicing a new routine for the first time, you do not want to be worrying about whether your performance will be good enough for the gold medal — you want to focus on executing the routine perfectly.
So is there ever a time when we should adopt a fixed mindset? Yes! But only when we know exactly what we are doing and have already been practicing it extensively.
What Mindset is an Alternative to a Fixed Mindset?
A growth mindset is a great and popular alternative to a fixed mindset. If you have a growth mindset, you believe that everyone has the potential to become great at something with effort and dedication. You do not think about how good or bad someone is at something; instead, you think about how much they want to improve themselves.