Are you fixed or flexible?

web-versionSimply loosening up your thinking can open the door to more freedom and joy.

By Muffy Churches.

Does change feel like the most maddening inconvenience? In fact, is it more like an annoying obstacle that you have no desire to overcome? Do you often find yourself judging others and have a strong need to be ‘right’? Do you often say ‘no’ to an innovative move away from the status quo?

If this sounds familiar, you may be operating by default from a ‘fixed’ mindset. This frame of mind describes a preference for the familiar and safe, for a sense of grounding in facts and principles as you know them to be and a belief that the person you are today is the person you’ll be tomorrow … that some things just can’t change. Or can they? 

In truth, the degree to which we are willing to contemplate doing things differently dictates the level of our capacity to maximise our potential through development and personal evolution. Cultivating a ‘growth’ or ‘flexible’ mindset provides us with the empowerment to transform ourselves in ways that may lead to new life possibilities and higher levels of fun and happiness. In addition, releasing our thinking from its prison of limitations of right or wrong, black or white frees us up from unnecessary angst, disagreement and bickering in our relationships. 

It is widely accepted that attitude is a better predictor of success than an IQ score is. We also know that shifting a long-entrenched personal mindset is a true challenge, especially for those who shy away from change in general, but the results may well be worth the effort. By giving ourselves permission to develop an attitude of more openness, acceptance and curiosity, we fling the door open to new, exciting personal horizons, less stress and more joy. 

Here are five steps to take if you’re motivated to make the journey to transition from a fixed to a flexible mindset.

Scan your thinking

As you move through the day, critically observe the thought patterns that a lifetime of experience has methodically programmed in your head. Invite your wise inner self to hover on your shoulder, observe and listen. Which of your thought patterns show the signs of being fixed? When are you negative, judgmental, self limiting or defensive?

Rescript 

Take note of some of your common fixed-mindset themes. Write them down then shift your internal dialogue for each one to something that leaves room for variation, openness and curiosity. For example, you could modify the thought ‘I would never do it that way’ to ‘It might be interesting to try that approach’.

Experiment

Having done the work on creating alternative, more flexible thoughts on paper, making the mindset transition truly happen means being able to manifest your new thinking in real time, when the moment calls for it. Know that your wish is your brain’s command and with determination day by day, magic will happen. Persevere, even through predictable setbacks and enjoy the outcome.

Assess results 

Now that you’ve been practising your new attitude in the real world, how are you feeling? What are the differences? Are your efforts paying off? Do you feel lighter, freer, less agitated with others, more relaxed in general, more willing to move off the beaten path? Do you notice others responding more positively to you?

Celebrate your transformation

Congratulate yourself. In order to have shifted a life-long attitude, here is what you have accomplished: you empowered yourself, took personal responsibility, got on with it, embraced change, created change from within yourself, pushed past fears of failure, accepted any slip-backs with a smile and determination, and were motivated by a desire to further your happiness and wellbeing. Here’s to you!

Muffy Churches is the author of Coach Yourself: A 7-step guide to personal fulfilment (Love & Write Publishing). Born in the US and settled in Sydney, she works as executive coach, leadership trainer, speaker, author, and counsellor. She has extensive experience in inspiring and initiating positive behavioural change in clients around the world.  For more information visit www.muffychurches.com or contact muffy@muffychurches.com.