Struggling to know all the answers. Struggling to achieve all I want to achieve. Struggling to be the parent I wish to be. Struggling to be the wife I aspire to be. Struggling to find enough time to do it all.
I’m struggling, and that’s actually a good thing. 🙂
My dear friend (and educator) was chatting with me recently about the idea of the Growth Mindset versus the Fixed Mindset. Check this out
Bottom line? Struggle is good for you.
You heard me… struggling is good for you, like broccoli and jogging. 😉
When we struggle, so often we put ourselves down.
I’m no good at this… I can’t do this… I’m not strong enough… I’m not smart enough… Or even… I’ve always been told I’m smart and learning is easy for me, so if I’m struggling I must be failing.
This kind of thinking puts us in that Fixed Mindset that shuts down our brains to the opportunity to grow from our struggles. But our minds need that struggle. The brain actually engages more from mistakes and searching than from getting things right the first time. So, like brain games, struggle helps your mind expand. Yet we have to invite in that struggle for the brain activity to increase. If we just say no to the tension, we have lost before we have begun.
In my conversation with my friend, we turned this idea of healthy struggle toward topics away from academia.
What if I’m struggling in my relationships?
We can’t promise you those are going to work out, but maybe, if we are in a Growth Mindset, we may be able to welcome the opportunity for those personal struggles to lead to mental (and emotional!) growth. Perhaps the struggle can allow our relationships to end up new and improved as we work through the tension. Yet, if we are shut down in Fixed Mindset mode, then we are, well… shut down to making things better.
What about religion and spirituality? What if I can’t decide if I want to belong or not belong, believe or not believe, participate or not participate? What if I am struggling with the fact that I want to feel like there is more to the world, more than meets the eye, but my intellect just won’t allow that kind of belief?
Well, welcome to another struggle. Invite it in. Rather than fighting the dichotomy, let’s experiment with living comfortably and knowingly within this questioning. Trying to find spiritual answers to our biggest questions and wrestling with what we find may be healthier than simple belief. So, let’s go for it! Let’s struggle.
As we step ever closer to the Jewish High Holy Days, I’m thinking a lot about struggle. As a spiritual leader, I struggle just to get everything done that needs to get done before our services. That also means I am struggling to be as emotionally and spiritually prepared as I would like to be for these upcoming Holy Days. And once we get to the services, I have to struggle with the process of looking at myself in my virtual mirror, taking those arduous steps toward returning to myself, returning to the person I believe I was meant to be, and attempting to lead all of you through that process as well. All of this responsibility can make my head spin out of control, and I find myself battling with my own struggle. I find myself stuck in a Fixed Mindset.
But I guess, according to this Mindset theory, if my life was just a piece of cake, there would be no growth. Just because I’m (gulp!) 43 years old doesn’t mean my mind should stop firing in new ways, does it? If I accept my struggle and keep an open mind to it, I may just be able to step into a Growth Mindset that can invite my brain into new and interesting territories… even if I’ve been stuck in Fixed Mindset for most of my life.
I invite you to play with this idea of Growth Mindset, and consider expanding with us during the Holy Days. Together we can encourage each other to embrace the struggles that are today, that we will encounter during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and that are inevitably waiting for us around the corner. Let’s stand shoulder to shoulder while we struggle, open our minds, and grow.
Hey! I think I can see your mind expanding already!!!!