Growth vs. Fixed Mindset: How to Rewire Your Brain

Your mind has the power to make you sick or well. You can change your life by changing your mindset. That’s why I want to address the difference between a growth and a fixed mindset. We will start with an overview of the growth vs. fixed mindset comparison. Then, I will give you some easy tips to cultivate a growth mindset. I have noticed that people with a fixed mindset also have very stiff bodies. Interesting, right? Don’t neglect mindset work on your health and wellness journey.

Growth Mindset Theory

The growth mindset theory, developed by psychologist Carol Dweck, is the belief that an individual’s abilities and intelligence can be developed and improved through dedication and hard work. In other words, a person with a growth mindset believes they can learn and grow over time and that their talents and intelligence are not fixed or predetermined.

According to Dweck, individuals with a growth mindset tend to embrace challenges, persist in facing obstacles, and view failures as opportunities for learning and improvement. They also tend to be more open to feedback and criticism, believing effort and hard work are essential for success.

On the other hand, individuals with a fixed mindset believe that their abilities and intelligence are fixed and cannot be improved and that they are either born with certain talents or are not. They may shy away from challenges, give up quickly, and view failure as a reflection of their innate abilities rather than an opportunity for growth.

Dweck’s research has shown that individuals with a growth mindset tend to achieve more academic, personal, and professional success than those with a fixed mindset. The growth mindset theory has since been applied in various fields, including education, sports, and business, to help individuals develop a more positive and proactive approach to learning and growth.

What is the Most Common Misunderstanding About Growth Mindset?

One of the most common misunderstandings about the growth mindset is simply about working hard or having a positive attitude. While these can be important aspects of a growth mindset, the theory is much more nuanced than that.

Another misunderstanding is that a growth mindset means that anyone can achieve anything if they just work hard enough. This is not true, as individual differences in talent, resources, and opportunities can all influence outcomes. However, a growth mindset can help individuals reach their full potential and achieve more than they might have otherwise.

Finally, there is sometimes a tendency to oversimplify the concept of a growth mindset, reducing it to a simple dichotomy of “growth” vs. “fixed.” In reality, individuals can exhibit different mindsets in different areas of their lives, and there is also a range of mindsets between the extremes of growth and fixed.

Overall, it’s essential to recognize that a growth mindset is not a magic solution to achieving success but rather a mindset that can help individuals approach challenges and setbacks with resilience, persistence, and a desire to learn and grow.

How Do Brains Behave When They Are In Fixed Vs. Growth Mindset?

Research suggests that brains behave differently when individuals have a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset.

In a fixed mindset, individuals focus on their innate abilities and believe they are largely fixed and unchangeable. As a result, they may be more likely to avoid challenges and feel threatened by feedback or criticism, which can lead to feelings of defensiveness and a desire to prove themselves.

On the other hand, in a growth mindset, individuals view challenges as opportunities for growth and believe that their abilities can be developed through effort and hard work. This can lead to increased motivation, persistence, and resilience in the face of setbacks or obstacles.

Research using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) has shown that individuals in a fixed mindset exhibit greater activity in the amygdala, a region of the brain associated with the fight-or-flight response and the processing of emotional stimuli. This suggests that individuals in a fixed mindset may experience a greater sense of threat or anxiety when faced with challenges or criticism.

In contrast, individuals with a growth mindset exhibit greater activity in the prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain associated with planning, decision-making, and problem-solving. This suggests that individuals in a growth mindset may be more likely to approach challenges with curiosity and a desire to learn and improve.

Overall, research suggests that individuals’ mindsets can influence how their brains process and respond to challenges, feedback, and other stimuli. Regenerate response

Growth Vs. Fixed Mindset Comparison

In this section, we will compare the growth and fixed mindset by examining what characterizes each mindset. The difference between a fixed and a growth mindset exists on a continuum. You likely oscillate between the two behaviors in some cases. The goal is to cultivate a growth mindset overall.

Characteristics of a Person With a Growth Mindset

What is a person with a growth mindset like? How does she live her life, overcome challenges, receive feedback, and deal with conflicts? Looking at these growth mindset examples, you will get a good sense of what it means to be a person with a growth mindset.

Views Failure as a Chance to Learn

When you have a growth mindset, you understand that setbacks are a necessary part of the learning process. You will fail and fail again, but it’s ok. You are not seeking others’ approval. Instead, you are striving to learn and improve.

Perceives Critical Feedback as a Chance to Improve

Whenever someone offers critical feedback, you listen without taking it personally. Maybe it will be useful to learn and improve yourself, or maybe not. It could simply represent one person’s opinion. Either way, it doesn’t affect your self-worth.

Perseveres to Overcome Challenges

With a growth mindset, you embrace challenging tasks and work hard to achieve goals. Obstacles become a chance to experiment and solve problems.

Views Problems as Interesting

You don’t fear problems or conflicts. You don’t try to avoid them. Instead, you take time to observe because they provide interesting information about the other person or situation. You seek to learn from conflicts and problems.

Believes Anyone Can Learn Anything Through Practice

When you have a growth mindset, you love learning. You view intelligence, abilities, and talents as learnable and capable of improvement through effort. Consequently, life is an exciting journey. Intelligence is a muscle that can grow.

For example, if you want to become flexible after age 40, you may decide that you have never been flexible, even as a child, and think you will not succeed. Or tell yourself that you can learn to become flexible with hard work. Your choice!

Read Am I Too Old To Be Flexible? for more flexibility tips.

growth vs. fixed mindset

Characteristics of a Person With a Fixed Mindset

You most likely have some characteristics of the person with the growth mindset and the person with the fixed mindset.

Views Failure as Permanent

With a fixed mindset, you think failure means you are not good enough. You lack the necessary skills and abilities, wasting your time.

Perceives Critical Feedback as a Personal Attack

You avoid feedback because poor feedback makes you feel inadequate. You receive it as a personal attack.

Gives Up When Faced With Challenges

You tend to give up when things get too difficult. You don’t persevere in the face of adversity because you don’t think you can learn.

Avoids Conflicts

When you have a fixed mindset, you avoid conflicts because you don’t approach problems with curiosity. Instead, you avoid them.

Thinks Abilities Stem From Past Accomplishments and are Fixed

You believe intelligence is a fixed trait that doesn’t change much (like eye color).

Science and the Growth Mindset

The brain grows like any muscle in the body. According to research, teaching students how to learn as a process rather than a goal improves motivation and long-term results.

For example, in this study, undergraduate students who learned about the brain’s neuroplasticity received more fulfillment from their academics. Students that understand the growth mindset get better grades.

Benefits of a Growth Mindset

There are several benefits to developing a growth mindset, including:

  1. Increased resilience: People with a growth mindset tend to bounce back from setbacks more quickly, viewing challenges and failures as opportunities for learning and growth.
  2. Greater motivation: When people believe their efforts can lead to improvement, they are more likely to put in the necessary work to achieve their goals.
  3. Improved learning: With a growth mindset, individuals are more likely to embrace challenges and seek new learning opportunities, leading to improved skills and knowledge.
  4. Increased creativity: A growth mindset encourages individuals to approach problems from new angles and take risks, leading to increased creativity and innovation.
  5. Greater self-awareness: Individuals with a growth mindset tend to be more self-aware, open to feedback and constantly seek self-improvement opportunities.
  6. More positive relationships: People with a growth mindset tend to be more supportive of others and more open to feedback, leading to stronger relationships and a more positive work or social environment.

Overall, a growth mindset can lead to increased personal and professional success, as individuals with this mindset are more likely to approach challenges with resilience, persistence, and a desire to learn and grow.

Developing a Growth Mindset

Whether you have a growth or a fixed mindset isn’t eighter/or. You are most likely sitting somewhere in the middle range. Here are some tips for cultivating a growth mindset today:

  • Look at my growth vs. fixed mindset comparison and determine where you can improve your growth mindset in specific ways.
  • Set realistic goals to improve your growth mindset (pick something new to learn, for example)
  • Pick daily choices to improve your growth mindset (set a daily task to learn your new skill).
  • Read some personal development books or listen to podcasts.
  • Notice your behavior patterns. When you feel tempted to give up, listen to your internal dialogue.
  • Learn about brain plasticity.
  • Reflect on your progress and accomplishments. Keeping track of your progress will motivate you to keep going.

Would you like more guidance to improve your mindset? Check out my guide How To Master Your Mindset In 7 Days.

Growth vs Fixed Mindset Statements

here are some examples of growth mindset statements and fixed mindset statements:

Growth mindset statements:

  1. “I can improve with practice and effort.”
  2. “Challenges help me learn and grow.”
  3. “Mistakes are opportunities for me to learn and improve.”
  4. “I can learn from feedback and criticism.”
  5. “I can develop new skills and abilities over time.”

Fixed mindset statements:

  1. “I’m not good at this and never will be.”
  2. “I don’t like to try new things because I might fail.”
  3. “If I make a mistake, it means I’m not good enough.”
  4. “I don’t need to improve because I’m already good at this.”
  5. “I’m just not naturally talented at this, so there’s no point in trying.”

Growth Vs. Fixed Mindset Video

In Summary

The growth and fixed mindsets are two contrasting beliefs about intelligence and personal qualities that can influence people’s behavior and approach to challenges.

A fixed mindset assumes that intelligence, talent, and personality are largely innate and cannot be changed much. People with a fixed mindset tend to avoid challenges that might expose their limitations or failures, and they may interpret feedback or criticism as a personal attack. They may also give up easily when facing obstacles or setbacks, believing their abilities are predetermined and not subject to improvement.

On the other hand, a growth mindset assumes that abilities and qualities can be developed and improved through effort, practice, and learning. People with a growth mindset tend to embrace challenges as opportunities to learn and grow, and they see failures as temporary setbacks that can be overcome by perseverance and a willingness to learn from mistakes. They also seek feedback and criticism as valuable information to help them improve and achieve their goals.

The growth mindset is associated with greater resilience, motivation, and achievement, while the fixed mindset can limit personal growth and lead to a fear of failure. However, both perspectives can be changed through intentional effort and self-reflection.