Defence Mechanisms of The Fixed Mindset: Part 1

Good morning/afternoon! Today’s post is on the fixed mindset and some of the behaviours it triggers (defence mechanisms). These defence mechanisms often have negative consequences on a person. So today I aim to outline them, and guide you in identifying what triggers your fixed mindset. In the next post I’ll go into depth about strategies you can use to overcome them.

Introduction to Fixed Mindset

Before we go any further into this post, I am going to conduct a brief introduction to the fixed mindset. The idea of a fixed mindset comes from the book Mindset by Carol Dweck. According to Professor Dweck, the fixed mindset is a system of thinking that worships the idea of a “natural” (ie natural ability or God given traits) and to an extent displays an aversion towards the ideas of effort, and learning.

The fixed Mindset generally has a profound negative impact on someone’s ability and overall success. This is because in order to be successful people need to improve and grow, which is done through effort, and learning. Not natural ability.

Defence mechanisms come into this as people in the fixed mindset often feel they need to protect their natural ability. This is due to (as mentioned before) the fixed mindset persuading you into believing that you are born with a certain level of ability whether it be intelligence, athletic ability, artistic capacity etc. So when a person is in the Fixed mindset, they are in their own mind, determining their worth as a human being, based on their daily achievements and failures. Any criticism or setback is perceived as failure and takes away from their “ability”. As a consequence people feel as though they need to protect their “ability”. The way they do this is through the defence mechanisms that we’ll get into soon.

The final point I want to mention before I move on is that everyone has some fixed mindset, it just depends to what extent. For some people the fixed mindset dominates and it is present in every aspect of their life, for some people it may occur repeatedly in a certain circumstance, and for others it may only arise occasionally and spontaneously. The point is that it is natural for the fixed mindset and its consequences (aka defence mechanisms) to be there. We’re all human. So the best we can do is acknowledge that we are not perfect, acknowledge that the fixed mindset is there, and work on strategies to identify it, and overcome it when it arises.

The Different Defence Mechanisms

Effort

The first defence mechanism I’m going to point out is effort. Effort is a resource as mentioned before often detested by the fixed mindset. The reason that this is true is because in the fixed mindset as we spoke about before; people believe in ability. And if you have the ability why would you need effort?

However in the fixed mindset, effort is also used to protect your ability. In this mindset nothing is worse than saying “I gave it everything I had. I put in 100% effort and it still wasn’t good enough.” The reasoning for this being so hard to come to terms with is that for a lot of people it labels them. As ordinary, un-talented or a failure. The fixed mindset approach to solving this problem is to just not give effort. This way if “ability” wasn’t enough, then there is always the safeguard of saying “I could’ve been… if I had tried”.

To hopefully clarify this here’s a scenario:

You’re in PE and the teacher tells everyone that today’s activity is 100m sprints. You are to compete against your classmates and your time will be recorded. The activity is optional, however the taking part will help your participation grade. You are acutely aware of your lack of speed or running prowess. Instead of lining up with the rest of the class, you decide to tell your teacher you are going to sit this one out.

This scenario is displaying the fixed mindset in full bloom. It also happens to be a recount of one of my own experiences with the fixed mindset. At that time sitting out felt like a huge relief to me, I felt as though I had avoided humiliation, or worse… failure. In my mind it was better to not try (give effort) than try and fail. Although I didn’t realise it at the time this was a protection of my ego and of my fixed mindset. I was ensuring that I wouldn’t fail but simultaneously limiting my own learning and growth.

I think that it is also important to note that in this scenario my fixed mindset reaction wasn’t triggered by a need to feel or come across superior, but rather overwhelming self-doubt. Versions of this same story are around everywhere and it is important to remember that most fixed mindset reactions or defences are triggered by doubt, insecurity or a need for validation.

Blame

The second defence mechanism I am going to talk about is blame. As mentioned before, defence mechanisms are a way of upholding the idea of “ability” and protecting people’s self-esteem (especially when it is already low). As far as defence mechanisms go blame is one of the largest perpetrators.

Blame is something we come across a lot. In the workforce, in school, and in our own personal relationships. Blame happens a lot and everyone is guilty. But what triggers blame and why is it there? Blame is (as mentioned previously) a way of protecting someone’s image whether it be protecting the way they see themselves or the way they are seen by others. Here’s this theory in action:

“Is the scenario”

Is the message this person has sent to them self

(How it is interpreted)

“I didn’t pass the exam because I wasn’t taught the content properly” – it’s not my fault it’s the teachers (therefore I didn’t fail someone else failed to teach me)

“I wasn’t on time because …… held me up“ – it’s not my fault it’s …. for holding me up (therefore I’m not disorganised …. I was just a victim of circumstance)

“I only yelled at you because ….. frustrated me with their lack of productivity” – it’s not my fault I yelled at you ….. shouldn’t have been so inefficient (therefore I’m still a good person and ….. is just incompetent)

And the list goes on.

Most scenarios aren’t as extreme as those. I just selected those ones to help paint the picture. But a lot of the time it is as simple as “I didn’t go for that run I said I’d go on because it was windy.” It is scenarios such as this one and the ones above that show us defence mechanisms in action, and each one is based on the same idea; “I am still perfect it was just someone or something else’s fault”. And your fixed mindset says “Phew! Crisis averted my image is upheld.”

Lying

The third and final defence mechanism I am going to talk about is lying. Now this is the most internal of the 3 mechanisms I have discussed. This is because most of the time the lying is lying to yourself rather than lying to others.

As we’ve discovered previously these methods of protection are called upon usually to protect image, “ability” and self-esteem. When a person is in a situation that triggers the mind to produce a defensive response such as lying it is usually a result of one of those 3 things. Lying is no exception. Lying in this context is referring to manipulating the truth of a scenario to uphold either your image, “ability” or self-esteem.

Lying can be linked back to both effort and blame and it is the story we tell ourselves to justify our fixed mindset response.

For example:

“I didn’t stick to the diet because I had a family event to go to”

Let’s consider this; at first it looks like the truth, and it may even be the truth but lets have a look at the messages within it.

Message 1: Blame. When we first read this sentence it seems pretty normal. No lying here. But if you look a little deeper the message is “It isn’t my fault it is just an unavoidable circumstance.” Which can also be interpreted as “it is something else’s fault therefore my image is still intact.” Sound familiar?

Message 2: The second message here is lying to self. In the 2nd interpretation of this scenario I label this circumstance “unavoidable”. Is that true? When we say things such as: “I didn’t do ____ because…” we are subconsciously consoling ourselves. But what we need to take into account is the factual element of the situation. Yes, in this scenario the person may have been at a family event. But is that the reason they didn’t stick to the diet? They could have pre prepared a meal, or looked at the restaurant menu ahead of time. So was it really the event’s fault? Or was it a lack of effort, maybe they didn’t cultivate appropriate strategies, or maybe they didn’t have a precise enough plan to begin with. Whatever it is, it is much easier to manipulate the truth and tell yourself a story, then own your mistakes and face them head on.

The overall idea of lying is to convince someone of something, and in this context lying is about trying to convince yourself that you are the victim of someone or something else. A little bit like blame. But instead of blaming others you are creating a story in your head to explain to yourself why it is, that it is the fault of others.

What Triggers The Mechanisms?

First of all: what is a trigger?

In the context of this post a trigger is an emotion, scenario, person or thing that causes you to feel the need to protect your self-esteem. In the first scenario I mentioned (under effort) I talked about how self-doubt in sports was a real issue for me. Self-doubt was the trigger. When I was experiencing self-doubt I was more likely to pull away. To not give effort, to blame others or to lie to myself. Another trigger was settings where others could see me compete. Whether this was in my PE class or in a tournament. Having other people watch me triggered the defence mechanisms also.

Everyone has a trigger and most people will have multiple. The aim here is to identify yours so you can keep an eye out for it. What triggers your defensive mechanisms is different for everybody. But everyone has a trigger. Sometimes it’s an emotion, sometimes it’s a situation and sometimes it’s a person or thing. Whatever it is, it usually results in you trying to justify something to yourself either through a) effort b) blame c) lying.

Although defence mechanism triggers are varied here are a few common ones:

  • Insecurity
  • Need for validation
  • Self-doubt
  • Fear
  • Feeling inferior
  • High pressure situations
  • A situation where you go in with external expectation
  • Situations with large audiences
  • Disagreements
  • Senior people in organisations etc

These are just a couple common triggers. If any of these apply to you, right them down, and try to be aware of when these triggers arrive. So you can be on guard to catch yourself out whenever your defence mechanisms appear. If none of these apply to you that’s ok as well. Next I will show you how to become familiar with your own personal triggers.

Finding out what triggers your fixed mindset reactions requires an honest self-evaluation of a scenario in your own life, where your defence mechanisms were in full bloom.

ie. a meeting you once had, a track meet where you under performed etc

Think about this situation. Once you have your scenario feel free to write these questions down or answer them in your head.

1. How did you react? (What reaction did you use to defend your image?)

2. Where were you? (Place, what were you doing?)

3. What emotions did you feel? (Fear, embarrassment, doubt)

4. Why at this time? (Eg were you afraid because people were watching you?)

5. How do you feel? (Think about the present, right now looking back, how do you think you handled it?)

6. Why did you react that way? (Did you blame someone else because you were afraid of being judged? Did you not try for fear of failing?)

Now with this information in mind there is usually an overarching theme. You might have blamed someone else during an end of term exam because you were embarrassed and you felt like you had disappointed your family. Now reflecting you believe that you didn’t handle it the right way and could have asked for feedback or owned up to your errors, and in hindsight you realise you felt like you were being constantly judged by your family and just wanted to feel valued. Now that is a fake example, but from this example we can assume that the trigger is something to do with external validation and self confidence. That in this example the person obviously cares deeply about the approval or others and the main trigger is the fear of being judged. Or an environment where they will be judged (such as in an exam).

I hope that exercise was useful and that you found at least one trigger of your defence mechanisms. If so, try to use that knowledge to full advantage. When you are put in a situation where your trigger arises just note that, and wait for your defence mechanism and/or fixed mindset to show up. Now you are on guard and ready to front your fixed mindset reactions with a clear head, and make informed decisions.

Alright that’s it from me for today. I hope that this post was useful and informative! Originally I was going to have the strategies to overcome the fixed mindset reactions (aka defence mechanisms) in this post as well but the post ended up being lengthier than I anticipated. So instead, I will split this post in 2, and post a seperate part 2 article, dedicated to overcoming these reactions.

If you enjoyed this post please consider following this site for more content such as this. Interactions with the post would also be greatly appreciated. I hope you’re all well, and stay safe!

I am someone who purely researches and writes on topics such as this out of interest. I am not accredited. For more info on this topic please access the following links. 🙂

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The Science of Confidence

Good morning/ afternoon everyone, I hope you’re all staying safe during these difficult times. Today’s post is all about what goes on between our ears that changes the way we feel about ourselves and how we can manipulate that to our own advantage. In this post I will discuss different techniques for gaining confidence and why it is that they are effective. Without further a do.. lets get into it!

A. Bandura – Developing Confidence

The following information is from a psychology study performed by professor Albert Bandura, it discusses the 4 principles to achieving confidence.

1. Mastery Experiences

Mastery experiences simply refers to the idea of knowing your capacity through previous success in an endeavour. For example if an athlete trains for the 100m sprint and is attempting to complete it in under 12 seconds they will be more confident if they have completed the run in under 12 seconds before, and the more times they do it the more comfortable they’ll be with their chances of performing on race day.

Photo by @Braden Collum on Unsplash

2. Vicarious Learning

Vicarious learning is the process of learning through the experiences of others. Sort of like researching. Vicarious learning allows, a person to learn through the success of others, and make adjustments according to the journeys, hardships and trials of others in their respective journeys.

3. Modelling Behaviour

Modelling behaviour is quite similar to vicarious learning, however when talking about modelling behaviour we are referring to imitating actions of extremely successful people as oppose to anyone. We are also not looking at events that may have happened to a person but the habits, routine, study and work that got them to where they are. An example of this could be taking sections of a professional athletes routine, recovery process, and diet and adding them to your own personal routine, in the hope of improving your own performance.

Photo from @LOGAN WEAVER on Unsplash

4. Social Persuasion

Social persuasion is arguably the most important part of the confidence development process. It explores the idea that the environment we’re in, largely influences our own conscience. It talks about the human need of approval and acceptance from those around us. Examples of social persuasion include positive verbal reinforcement and a supportive/uplifting environment for people to work in.

How Can I Put This into Practice?

Although these techniques have been proven to be immensely successful, it does not come after only 1 day of practice. The changes in the brain necessary for the confidence to become natural take time to develop. This is due to a concept known as neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity, is simply referring to the way in which our brains are constantly developing and evolving. We can harness this evolution through repetitive behaviours, that eventually become habit.

By practicing this process for extended periods of time you are subconsciously re wiring entire sections of your brain! By doing so you will eventually be able to be confident in your chosen endeavour without even trying.

Added Notes:

Some ways to put this information into practice include

  • Positive self-talk
  • Visualisation (manifestation techniques)
  • Acknowledging minor success’s
  • Researching successful people in the field
  • Setting S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals
  • Adopting new lifestyle changes to accomodate the activity if necessary (eg improved diet, or more study hours)
  • KEEP TRYING
  • Surrounding yourself with positive and uplifting people
  • Self belief, and understanding you are 100% capable
  • Affirmations

It is really important to remember that this process will be different and take different amounts of time for each person.

Thats all from me today! I hope this post was helpful and that you are able to take something away from this read! If you did enjoy this post, please consider dropping a follow and/or like! As always stay safe and have an amazing day!

A Guide to Setting Goals

Hey y’all! Right now is the perfect time to be productive and get organised! I recently shared a post on things to do to keep productive and organised at the moment (I’ve put the link here!). So as an add on from that post, today’s post is all about setting goals. Full disclaimer this is how I set my goals and what has worked for me, but there are a lot of different ways to do it out there so if this isn’t helpful to you I encourage you to keep looking. Hope you enjoy this post.

Step 1

Step 1 is Brainstorm. Personally I love physically writing my goals and thoughts down. I highly recommend writing your goals down by hand as it helps get them out of your head. It could be as simple as getting a piece of paper and jot down anything that you want to achieve. However big or unspecific your goal is write it down. You may want to set a 5 minute timer just to create a sense of urgency, which often helps you focus your mind. Set a timeframe for your goals and write down all your thoughts on anything you want to achieve by that time. It is ideal that you write as many as possible from a range of aspects in your life. Remember a brainstorm is supposed to be vague. We will evaluate throughout the process. When brainstorming think about more words and phrases rather that sentences.

Step 2

Step 2 is building off step 1 and it is to break your goals down. Get into the more specific details of what it is you want. Don’t make them to specific though as we will break them down further again later. At this stage you mainly want to focus on breaking down your larger goal. For example if your general goal was to lose weight you could break it down to “By this time next year I want to have lost _____ amount of weight”. Be specific. “I want to have completed ____ kilometres/or miles of a marathon”. If you have a more specific goal it is easier to track and recognise once you’ve achieved it. When you have larger goals it sometimes feels like you will never finish, which can make you doubt if you have done enough and may make you want to give up on your goal or just forget about it in general.

Step 3

Step 3 is to ask yourself Why. Why do you want it? Whatever you’re goal is there must be a reason you want it. Do you want to run a marathon for the health benefits or for the self confidence and knowing that you can do it. Acknowledging why you want something helps to keep you motivated on your journey to achieving it.

Step 4

Step 4 is manifestation. Think about the minor details of what its going to look like once you’ve achieved that goal. Think about where you are when it happens,what you can see, hear and smell. Most of all allow yourself to think about the feeling once you have achieved that goal. Visualise it and allow yourself to dwell on it.

Step 5

Now that you know exactly what your goal is, it is time to start planning it. Back in Step 1 I mentioned keeping your thoughts short and sweet because we were going to evaluate them later. I also mentioned in step 2 not to be too specific because we were going to break them down even further. Well now is the time to do both of those things. Planning your goals is a really important step to achieving them. To start off with try to make smaller goals. Think about something that is reasonable for you at the given time. Baby steps. I’m going to go back to my example of a marathon. You aren’t going to be able to run 42km on your first try. Work your self up to it and over time you will get the results. Think about S.M.A.R.T goals. S.M.A.R.T goals is an acronym and it stands for; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely goals.

When planning your goals think of it like a flow chart. My first goal is to run 1k. My second goal is to run it in under 10 minutes. Keep giving yourself something to work on until you reach that ultimate goal.

Step 6

Step 6 is my favourite. It is to write it all down. But it doesn’t have to be boring. I personally am a very visual person and like to create vision boards. You can physically sit down, print out pictures and stick them onto cardboard or you may just create a Pinterest board. That doesn’t work for everyone though. You may write your goals down in your journal or on a piece of paper. Just get them down.

Step 7

Put them everywhere! If you keep a journal write them down in your journal every night. If you made a vision board hang it up behind your door or some place where you’ll see it. Did you write a list? Stick it on your fridge! If you’re constantly seeing your goals your more likely to remember them and keep motivated to achieve them.

Step 8

Step 8 is to keep track of them. Every month or so give yourself a check in. Where am I in relation to my end goal? What am I working on now? How far away is my goal? What have I achieved? When you religiously check in with yourself you’re also reminding yourself of the goals.

Thank you for reading! I hope this post was informative and helpful for you! Now is a great time to be working towards goals as we have some extra time on our hands. Hoping that you’re safe and well. – Sophie

Credit to: Jess Bailey @unsplash images

8 Ideas to Keep Productive and Organised

Hey y’all. Following along my recent theme of things to do in quarantine I decided to do a whole post on things that you can do at home. That are not only going to save you from boredom but also help you keep organised and productive at home. Hope you enjoy this post!

Podcasts

I’m relatively new to the world of podcasts but have been loving them lately. Podcasts are such a helpful and productive thing to do and enjoy. There are sooo many different podcasts available I am sure you will find one. For example there a loads of health and lifestyle ones out there, that I have recently been enjoying. There are also business, science and travel oriented podcasts, there are literally tons to choose from. My favourite podcast at the moment is Rise and Conquer. Rise and Conquer is a podcast for women who a looking to take control of their lives and put their best foot forward. It has a range of episodes from talking to dieticians to tips on how to grow your business if you want somewhere to start, its a really cool podcast which I highly recommend.

Meal Prep

Prepping meals is something that is highly recommended by a lot of health professionals. But for a lot of people we don’t really have hours to spend making meals in preparation for the week ahead. By the end of the week all you want is to watch Netflix, go for a walk or you may even have home work to do. The point is very few people have enough time to squeeze making meals for hours on end into their already cramped schedule. So a positive of the current situation is that I now have an extra 1 1/2 hours because we no longer have to commute to work or school. So we can now use our extra time for productive things that’ll benefit you and your health including prepping meals. Meal prep is extremely useful for people with allergies or restrictive diets like myself. I don’t do much meal prep but have wanted to for sometime but haven’t been able to find the time. So this one is a reminder for me as well.

Blogging

Blogging is a super fun productive activity! Whether you have your own blog already or have been wanting to start one now is the perfect time to blitz it. This tip is something I do all the time. It is a fun and creative outlet and a great thing to do with your time. I personally have done so much work on my blog of late. Just because I’ve had the extra time. If you’ve wanted to start a blog but have been procrastinating or running out of time go for it!

Donations

Something you could do that not only helps you keep organised but also helps those who are less fortunate than you is donations. For example if you’ve really been wanting to clean out your wardrobe but have been putting it off now’s the time. Instead of throwing all of the clothes you no longer want out, you can sort the pieces and those that are in relatively good shape could be donations. I am sure a quick Google will help you find a charity needing your donation. Donating things you don’t use anymore is a great thing to do! As it is not only good for you but also benefits others and is good for the environment.

Create a new workout

Working out is such a great use of time (just don’t over do it.). So whilst you have the extra time why don’t you try some different workouts and create a custom one that works best for you. There are a lot of free workouts on platforms like YouTube and Pinterest. If you already know a bit about exercise you may just want to create your own from scratch. Either way working out is proven to not only be good for your physical health but also benefit your mental health. Personally I think mental health and self love is so important especially in difficult times like this. Working out will help you feel great about yourself as well as keep those positive vibes high.

Clean Your Room

Honestly we probably all expected this one and have heard it a million times but there are a lot more reasons to do it than the obvious “so it looks tidy” reason we’ve all heard a million times. I don’t know if it’s just me but I can’t focus on writing my blog post, doing homework, studying for the next test or whatever it is I’m doing if my room is a mess. Having a nice environment to do your school work or study in makes all the difference. Some studies have actually proven that people can sometimes be subconsciously stressed or anxious just because the environment their in is not clean. Besides if you clean your room now and get it over and done with the chances are you won’t have to do it again for a while.

Set Goals

I feel like a lot of people rush around and set goals at the beginning of the new year but forget about them by April. If that’s you don’t worry because now we have loads of extra time on our hands to set goals and make plans so we can actually achieve them. People set goals all different ways and have all different goals but there really is no wrong way to do it. There are a lot of different ways to plan out your goals. So whilst your home you can look into whatever way you would like to set out your goals.

Learn a new language

This one is a bit random but super useful and fun. This is extremely useful if you planned to go somewhere before COVID-19 and have had to postpone it. You could use the time stuck at home to learn the language so you interact with locals once you get there. Also if you’re learning a language at school you could do some extra study. You could also just learn a language for the fun of it. I have a language app called Duolingo which I highly recommend. It is the best rated language app on the App Store.

Thank you for reading to the end I hope you enjoyed todays post and found it useful. Please remember that sometimes relaxing is the most productive thing you can do. Keep smiling and being positive. The more positive you are the better you and the people around you will feel. Have a wonderful day! – Sophie

Photo by Corinne Kutz on Unsplash

Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash

Photo by Melanie Pongratz on Unsplash