As you learn more about addiction and recovery, it’s fascinating to be introduced to new ways of thinking. Recognizing that you have the ability to not only change behavior but also adjust thought patterns presents a whole new world of opportunities. And this is the core of a growth mindset.
Understanding Fixed and Growth Mindsets
Vocabulary.com defines mindset as “a habitual or characteristic mental attitude that determines how you will interpret and respond to situations.” Your mindset is created by numerous influences, including:
- Culture and upbringing
Mindset determines perspective, behavior, and actions toward any number of things, including a general world view, people, events, and particular topics. You can also have a rather pointed outlook about your abilities, intelligence, performance, and personal development.
Generally, most of us have fixed mindsets about almost everything, but in many circumstances, we can change and embrace more of a growth mindset. Carol Dweck is a psychologist and Stanford University professor who presented this concept based on years of research. In her 2006 book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dweck notes that “mindsets are just beliefs. They’re powerful beliefs, but they’re just something in your mind, and you can change your mind.”
Here’s the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.
A person with a fixed mindset believes that their intelligence or talents are fixed, or unable to change that much. As a result, they don’t put in as much effort into learning new information or skills because they believe they can’t progress past a certain fixed point.
Someone with a fixed mindset tends to:
- Avoid challenges
- Not respond well to criticism and feedback
- Have difficulty accepting or learning from failure and mistakes
- Use a “pass/fail” method for proving abilities
- Believe intelligence can’t be improved
- Be uncomfortable with many unfamiliar circumstances, people, and situations
It’s totally natural to experience these perspectives occasionally. But someone with a fixed mindset isn’t always open to learning new things or believing that there’s any reason to try.
A person with a growth mindset believes that they can change their abilities through hard work and commitment. Intelligence and talent matter, but they’re just a starting point. People with a growth mindset love to learn and don’t give up easily.
Other ways to develop a growth mindset include:
- Use failure as an opportunity to grow and learn
- Be willing to move the typical comfort zone
- Remember that intelligence and talent continue to evolve
- Consider constructive feedback helpful
- Look to other people’s success as inspiration
- Find value in the process instead of only the result
What type of mindset do you have most of the time? Using Dweck’s research, IDRlabs created an interesting interactive online quiz that reveals your current perspective.
How Might a Growth Mindset Help You?
You’ve probably already learned during treatment what circumstances contributed to your addiction, as well as certain triggers that prompt maladaptive behavior. You may have also realized that without substances, your brain once again has the ability to make stronger neurological connections, essentially improving upon itself all the time. This is known as neuroplasticity, and it’s a critical component in developing a growth mindset.
At various times during recovery, and certainly throughout life, you’ll experience challenges. Adapting more of a growth mindset helps build resilience and provides more opportunity to explore possibilities. Here are a few suggestions from Ness Labs:
Use your strengths to improve upon weaknesses. No one is perfect. So acknowledging aspects of yourself and certain behaviors that need attention shows great emotional maturity and helps you continue to embrace how you always have the ability to enhance yourself.
Embrace a learning mentality. Take a moment to recall the last time you felt a little anxious or annoyed about learning something new, then realized it wasn’t as complicated as you originally thought—and now, you’re glad you know it! This inquiry attitude will serve you well in many aspects of life. While we’re at it, adjust your view from “failure” to “learning opportunity” and you’ll give yourself grace and be able to try again more easily.
Value the process—and the effort. You’ve heard the phrase, “It’s the journey, not the destination” right? This is very much a staple of the growth mindset. With a love of learning, a vibrant work ethic, and ample curiosity, the process will be just as enjoyable as the end result.
Use Dweck’s “not yet” method. She says adding “not yet” to one of your typical fixed mindset statements helps reframe your perspective. So when faced with a challenge, acknowledge that you haven’t accomplished that skill—yet!
Remind yourself of your successes, and celebrate them with others. Whenever you’re struggling, recall everything you’ve worked hard to overcome and how you did it. Don’t be shy about sharing what you’ve learned along the way with others. Without a doubt, the recovery community—especially in support groups—not only recognizes good effort, but also boosts your spirits for putting in the work.
Benefit From Willingway’s Continual Recovery Support
Each one of our comprehensive treatment programs in Statesboro, GA, offers extensive recovery and relapse prevention resources to ensure your sobriety success. One of our admissions team members will be happy to explain how they work.