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What is Your Mindset?

By Jude LaClaire, Ph.D


The seasons change, holidays come around once more, and we are still in the grips of COVID-19! This challenge is pushing us to learn more, confront change, and become better versions of ourselves. I look to others for help in this. In the New York Times article “Feel Like You’re Going Out of Your Mind? Consider your Mind-Set,” Alina Tugend introduces us to Dr. Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Stanford University, and one of the foremost researchers on how we think about mistakes and failures.

In this article she tells us, “…if we’re resilient enough to understand that mistakes are inevitable, that we often make them when we’re trying something that challenges us and that the learning process is as important as the final achievement, then we’re are far more open and able to accept them.” She learned more about this from Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

Dr Dweck focuses on mindsets, which is how we view our own abilities. She posits that we all have the possibility of a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. In the fixed mindset we don’t believe that our abilities, intelligence, or personalities can really change or evolve. We see mistakes, challenges, or setbacks as signs of stupidity or incompetence and may give up.

In the growth mindset, we understand intelligence and capabilities are malleable. We know we can be good at something, even though we may not be the best. We are more likely to be resilient in the face of obstacles and failure, seeing them as necessary to become better at just about anything. In one study, including a nationwide sample of high school students in Chile, the researchers found that students with a growth mindset were “appreciably buffered against the deleterious effects of poverty on achievement.”

Here are some things to consider as you think about your mindset:

  • Everyone has a fixed mindset sometimes

  • Name your fixed mindset: use humor, claim it and recruit it to work for you

  • Move beyond effort to learning: identify new strategies and approaches that can make our effort more productive

  • Your environment can help or deter your mindset. Find people or groups who encourage a growth mindset; encourage that in yourself and others

  • Avoid labeling yourself or others. We are all learning and growing


If you want to learn more about Growth Mindset Printables for kids four and older, go to Big Life Journal. Visit Empowering Education for free activities & lesson plans. You can also do an assessment at Mindset Works.


Let’s look at some of the skills, strategies or approaches that could assist you in this process.  One strategy would be to reconsider when you feel like quitting. Take that breath and say to yourself, “If I could imagine myself able to do this, I wonder what it would feel like, be like, or look like?” Sometimes when we feel overwhelmed, exhausted, or helpless, it is helpful to re-engage in the process of learning, one step at a time. As we become engaged, we may become more energized.


Identifying our strengths and weaknesses can help. For example, I know that when I am stressed, I lose details. I may get dates and times confused. I work at slowing down, following the rule of putting something into my schedule immediately as I make it. I then try to double-check myself. I do make mistakes and am trying to be less critical when I don’t do so well. As you look at what you’re good at and what challenges you, try to be more positive and less critical towards yourself or others.


Working on lowering stress and negativity can always help. Go back to the basics. Make sure you are getting good sleep, eating nutritiously, exercising, and doing the things that make you feel more energized. Good self-care always gives us an advantage.


Try thinking about your mindset and how it encourages or inhibits you. Have fun with it. Enjoy your mistakes, smile at your challenges, ask for help, and trust yourself.


Happy Holidays!



Jude LaClaire, Ph.D., LCPC is a counselor and educator at the Heartland Holistic Health Center. She is the author of the “Life Weaving Education Curriculum” that teaches creative, effective, holistic problem-solving. For counseling appointments (confidential video sessions), seminars, in-service training, or speaker’s bureau, call 816-509-9277 or; Some pro bono and lower fee sessions available at this time.


Evolving Magazine

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