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Mental Health

How adopting a “growth mindset” could boost your resilience during uncertain times

Are you wondering how to become more resilient in the midst of such uncertain times? Here’s why adopting a “growth mindset” could be the answer you’re looking for.

No matter what the Instagram quote accounts, self-proclaimed happiness gurus and well-meaning internet strangers would have you believe, there is such a thing as too much positivity.

It’s a simple fact of life: no matter how many times you tell yourself to “look on the bright side” or “stay positive,” we will all feel ‘negative’ emotions such as sadness, anger and fear throughout our lives. But by placing pressure on ourselves to be happy and think positively no matter what’s going on, we’re denying ourselves the opportunity to experience, reflect upon and learn from those feelings. 

No situation has made this dilemma quite so clear as the current coronavirus pandemic. At a time when we’re facing a whole load of uncertainty, sadness, fear and disappointment, telling ourselves to “think positive” just doesn’t cut it anymore. Life is, for the moment, a little bit shit, and telling ourselves the complete opposite doesn’t help anyone – in fact, it can leave us feeling pretty damn guilty about the legitimate emotions we are feeling. 

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So what kind of approach should we be taking at the moment? According to Abby Dixon, an award-winning business owner and life coach at The Whole You Coach, developing a growth mindset could be the key to feeling more in control during a tough time like the present.

“A growth mindset is the idea that people are not born with a fixed set of talents and skills, but can adapt, learn and grow to reach their goals,” Dixon explains. “This means not beating yourself up for having feelings of disappointment or fear – something which can be really empowering, especially right now.”

Instead of simply telling ourselves that “we’ll get through this” and beating ourselves up when we find ourselves struggling, adopting a growth mindset is all about accepting that we don’t always possess the strength, resilience or skills to get through a tough situation unscathed, but we can work on those areas of ourselves and grow over time.

“A person with a growth mindset can accept that things might be tough right now but importantly, accepts that their situation can change and improve, and they can grow,” Dixon says. “People with a growth mindset will still feel disappointment and anger but will move through these with a greater level of resilience. 

“They will also be quick to bounce back from setbacks and will do so with a drive to improve, because they recognise that growth is an essential part of reaching fulfilment.”

A ladder going up through the clouds
Adopting a growth mindset means accepting that things won't always go smoothly – but that we can learn and grow as a result.

While there’s nothing wrong with trying to see the good in a situation, it’s clear that expecting ourselves to be happy, unaffected and able to cope with anything at all times just isn’t realistic. Instead, living in the knowledge that we’re going to struggle, face challenges and ultimately learn from them helps us to accept ourselves for who we really are – not just during the pandemic, but in all areas of our lives where we want to improve.

Sounds good, right? If you’re interested in learning more about embracing a growth mindset, we asked Dixon to share her top tips on how to get started. Here’s what she had to say.

1. Have a clear idea of your goals

For Dixon, the first step in adopting a growth mindset is having a clear idea of your goals and what you want to achieve – even if your number one priority is simply “getting through this bloody pandemic”.

“Having clarity on where you are heading and want to achieve when it comes to your goals and understanding your purpose can help to give you the resilience to overcome life’s daily challenges,” she explains.

“They allow you to focus on the ultimate goals you are trying to achieve and what you are put on the planet to do. Having a purpose can breed a growth mindset that delivers positivity and results.”

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Dixon continues; “‘Purpose’ can seem like a very grand term and something that is potentially scary to think about if you’re unsure where you are right now. Here’s the formula I use to define purpose: talents + values + passions + skills and expertise = purpose.

“Ask yourself: what am I good at? What do I value? What am I passionate about?”

2. Embrace the ‘yet’

A woman looking in the mirror
Adopting a growth mindset is all about reflecting on your shortcomings and embracing what you don't know.

Understanding that we don’t have the skills to do everything – yet – can help us to embrace our flaws and feel more prepared to deal with our potential shortcomings.

“We are all human and works in progress,” Dixon explains. “Celebrate what you do know and have skills in, but also face into and embrace the things you don’t ‘yet’ know.”

She continues: “We can all change, if we are honest with ourselves about our strengths and about the areas we need to develop.”

3. Get comfortable in the uncomfortable

If there’s one thing the coronavirus pandemic has done for all of us, it’s put us out of our comfort zone. Adopting a growth mindset is about trying to embrace this as much as possible.

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“Growth happens outside our comfort zone,” Dixon explains. “Prepare to be uncomfortable and see discomfort as a positive.”

She adds: “For example, walking into a finance class where you don’t know anyone and are nervous about your ability is a good thing, because it means you are about to step outside your comfort zone so you can develop and learn new skills, which in turn will develop you and bring you one step closer to your goals.”

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