Evolving Your Mindset
“Mind is a flexible mirror, adjust it,
to see a better world.”
– Amit Ray
Positive thinking, perspective, and mindset are often construed as similar concepts. But in previous articles I have written on these topics, I presented them as separate constructs. I have already articulated my takes on positive thinking and perspective in the said articles. I appended “enlightened” to perspective for the purpose of presenting the idea in the manner I intended to explain it. To mindset, I am using “evolved” as a descriptor to distinguish my ideas about this concept from Carol S. Dweck’s “growth mindset.” I would say though that it is difficult to convince people with a “fixed mindset” that their mindset is capable of evolving. Let me expound later.
Successful people whom we call winners are positive thinkers – they are full of optimism and hope. But let me reiterate that they are not just optimistic and hopeful. While they expect good things to happen, they don’t just sit idle and do nothing. They embark on a course of action, not just daydream when pursuing whatever it is that they wish to accomplish. They do everything that ought to be done in order to get the results they want.
They (the winners) also know that realizing their desired outcome entails good decision-making. And they are aware that all decisions they make, all assumptions drawn and conclusions arrived at in the process, should be based on facts and details gathered using not only the methods they have already proven effective (that’s why they are successful) but by applying their enlightened perspective.
What about evolved mindset? What is it?
Dweck (2006) defines mindset as a self-perception or self-theory that people hold about themselves. But my discussion of this idea will not be anchored on mindset as the way a person perceives themselves or what belief they hold about themselves. These are notions similar to what I have previously discussed in an article on “self-belief.” The way I presented mindset here is also different from the way I discussed mindset in an article entitled “Cultivating Mindset.”
In addition to Dweck’s, if you check online dictionaries, you will see the different definitions of mindset. Cambridge defines it as “a person’s way of thinking and their opinion.” Oxford’s goes “the established set of attitudes held by someone.” And here is Merriam-Webster’s – “a mental attitude or inclination.” It is from the perspective of the third definition (Merriam-Webster’s) that I will explain mindset and why it is a vital component of the value system of successful people. I will dwell more on the “inclination” part of the definition.
Inclination is defined as a person’s natural tendency or urge to act or feel in a particular way (Lexico, n.d.). Whenever you receive any kind of stimuli from the environment, you respond in the way you do. That’s your inclination. There are only two ways to categorize them – positive or negative.
You react by thinking, saying, or doing something. Doing nothing is in itself a reaction. Inclinations are established sets of behavior that dictate the way we respond to an event, idea, circumstance, or what have you. The question is – are you consciously making those responses? Very likely that you’re not. Very likely that you are responding reflexively. You are not mindful of your inclinations. Usually, after you do or say something, it is only when you would realize that it’s not the proper thing to say or do. That realization, more often than not, comes right after you are already staring at the consequences of whatever you have said or done.
Sigmund Freud theorized that there are three levels of awareness – the conscious, preconscious, and unconscious. The unconscious mind is a reservoir of feelings, thoughts, urges, and memories that are outside of our conscious awareness. The unconscious contains contents that are unacceptable or unpleasant, such as feelings of pain, anxiety, or conflict (Cherry, 2020). It is in the unconscious mind where our inclinations reside.
People do respond differently to the same stimuli.
How do you respond when somebody curses you or calls you names? You might get angry and retaliate or you will choose to keep your cool and just walk away. How do you respond when your personal and professional pursuits fail? You might never try again or keep trying until you succeed. The foregoing are just a few examples of stimuli that confront as every day and how we react.
Your mindset (or your inclinations) could be affected by the culture you have grown into. Factors related to family, school, and environment are considered determinants of the kind of inclinations that you would end up having.
The inclinations or tendencies of a person depends on the kind of “wiring” their immediate family or society at large set on their minds. How such elements affect them as they grow older could be gleaned from the way they naturally react on just about anything later on in life. It will manifest in the way they think, talk, and behave. They are, in effect, programmed to think, talk, and behave in a certain way. In the deep recesses of their unconscious minds are their default responses to stimuli that they receive from the environment.
A person’s mindset could evolve. We can, if we want, reprogram our minds. This begins by identifying which of our inclinations need to change. We need to be aware of our inclinations so we can educate ourselves how to properly respond to the stimuli we receive every day in our lives. Identifying whatever negative inclinations we have then correcting them is how the mindset transforms. When we succeed in doing it then we achieve the state of an evolved mindset.
Uncontrolled inclinations could lead to failures in both personal and professional undertakings. It could ruin relationships and reputation. Negative inclinations are the biggest roadblock to sound decision making.
At this point, let me present Dweck’s notion of mindset. She (Dweck) categorized mindset into two – “fixed mindset” and “growth mindset.” She explained that “In a fixed mindset students [people] believe that their abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. In a growth mindset, students [people] understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching, and persistence.”
The danger is that if a person has what Dweck refers to as a “fixed mindset” they, as you might expect from people with that kind of mindset, have already embraced that they are who they are and whatever behavior and characteristics they possess are permanent and can no longer be changed. Winners are different. They do possess a “growth mindset.” They believe that inclinations can be changed in the same way that they think that talents can be developed. Inclinations are not fixed characteristics. If you decide to, you can identify which of them are bad and either control or completely eradicate them. Obviously, you should nurture the good ones.
Winners are mindful of what they think, say, and do. Being aware of their negative inclinations enables them to have restraints and make the right decisions. That’s the reason they are successful.
Cherry, K. (2020). The Preconscious, Conscious, and Unconscious Minds. verywell mind https://www.verywellmind.com/the-conscious-and-unconscious-mind
Dweck, C.S. (2006). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Ballantine Books.
Inclination. (n.d.). In lexico.com. Retrieved from https://www.lexico.com/definition/inclination
Mindset. (n.d.). In merriam-webter.com. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dicti
Mindset. (n.d.). In dictionary.cambridge.com. Retrieved from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/ dictionary/english/mindset
Mindset. (n.d.). In lexico.com. Retrieved from https://www.lexico.com/definition/mindset