Guest Post: War of the Worlds
Political posts on Facebook are enough to make you grit your teeth, aren’t they? There is always the chance that once stated, the genie is out of the bottle and a flame war is on. I try to avoid the trap of stating my political beliefs. It’s a self-defense mechanism honed from growing up liberal in a conservative area. Every political post has potential for great discourse, but let’s face it. It’s probably going to devolve into name calling.
And I realize – there’s two kinds of people, and they don’t fall along political lines. They fall along the lines of a fixed mindset, vs a growth mindset. Fixed mindset people are raised to believe that they only get so much to start with, and they can’t change after they’ve reached a certain point. They think that’s all the intelligence they’ll ever get. They get what they’re born with and no more.
The growth mindset, meanwhile, embraces difficulty as a chance to learn. They see failure as a stepping stone to success, not a personal affront. They see challenges as something to try against, not something to run away from. And that is the crux of communication problems in America today.
These two states both live inside the political divide. Growth mindset appears in both conservative and liberal camps, as does fixed. It’s the fixed mindset that is causing the problem, in my opinion. I was raised in a fixed-mindset. There is something comforting about feeling in control of your life. Whenever challenges to that stability occur, it tends to rock the boat to the tipping point. People freak out when their ideas are threatened. They don’t want to entertain new ideas, because change is anathema.
Growth mindset accept that shit happens, and not only that, but they rise to the occasion when instability rocks their boat. They can hold two opposing opinions in their mind without threatening their security. They don’t take failure personally, and they respond positively to challenges.
This is a new concept for me, but I have seen people living the different mindsets without realizing it. My husband’s family come from the growth mindset. They are giving, caring people who have staunch beliefs but are not afraid to have them challenged. They are gracious, kind, and polite to all manner of people. They don’t gossip. They don’t judge.
Growing up in a rural area, I came into contact with a lot of judgmental folks. They were aggressive when challenged and did not want to give out chances. I felt isolated growing up, and I couldn’t figure out why I was seen as a threat by these people. My childhood was marked by schoolyard bullies and ostracism. I believed that I was as smart as I was ever going to be, and that I’d never amount to much.
I’m happy to tell you that the best part about a fixed mindset, is that it is capable of changing over into a growth mindset. I have been working to believe in myself. This means I’ve learned to trust that I have a voice. It also means I’ve learned to not take things so personally, and to not be so judgmental of others. I just had to learn to believe in myself, which sounds easy on paper but is a lot of work and soul-searching. I’m not crowing about this because I made the switch, however. I’m crowing because if I can do it, anybody can do it. Which means this terrible divide that we’re experiencing in politics and in our society can be healed. I am a firm believer in a better future, and this to me embodies hope. It is my wish that other people can read this and see the hope, and give a growth mindset a chance. Fair warning. A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.
Tina Shelton is the author of The Corsican and Bento Box. She attends college and takes care of her 8 year old son, with the love and support of her husband. She loves science fiction and movies and all things geek but there just aren’t enough hours in the day to keep up with it all. She prefers spending time with friends or sitting down and creating worlds for people to enjoy. If you’re interested in her writing, here’s the link to Amazon, both the e-book and print version of her book. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00Z7Z2UBA, or just drop by the blog at http://tinashelton.com.