Mindset: The Key to Hope

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It can be so easy to forget the powerhouse that sits above our neck encased in our skull can grow and change throughout our lifetimes. This powerhouse is often a field of battle between negative and positive thoughts that are often whispering quietly without our notice or at other times loudly screaming at us.

Those thoughts have created a mindset that began developing from our earliest years of life. Unfortunately, not everything that goes into the brew is truth, but we didn’t realize it and took some of those lies as facts. Their impact can affect us for years to come.

Perhaps that is why so many books have been written about how to improve or change the habits of our minds, to spiritually war against the enemy’s taunts that he plays out there. Psychology also seeks to help us with cognitive-behavioral techniques that help us identify negative self-defeating thoughts and tools to help us replace them with truth. No quick fix appears to be listed in any of the resources available.

One of the challenges for us is that our mindset ultimately gravitates into one of two types. These affect how we view every mistake, disappointment, setback, and failure and either move us forward toward hope or cause us to halt forward movement and give up.

Angela Duckworth in her book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, identifies these two mindsets as a growth mindset or a fixed mindset.

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If we have a growth mindset, we believe we can do better, that it’s possible if we work harder, get additional support, and receive encouragement that we can get smarter and do better. And guess what? We get up and try again!

Research shows that if you have a growth mindset, you’ll be more likely to do better in school, enjoy better emotional and physical health, and have stronger, more positive social relationships with other people. It doesn’t mean we don’t fail or face challenges. What matters is our response to those defeats.

If we have a fixed mindset, we believe that those failures, setbacks, disappointments, and mistakes mean we don’t have the “right stuff”, aren’t good enough. And guess what? We give up. That belief can be so strong that we don’t ask for support, we don’t risk trying, we become resolved to a sense of our inadequate performances. We decide we don’t have what it takes!

One of the keys to determining which mindset we develop is how those around us respond when we slip up and make mistakes. The more powerful the position of authority the person has in our lives, the greater the impact not just of what they say or don’t say but also by the facial expressions they exhibit.

If we struggle with a fixed mindset about our spiritual lives, the enemy is gleeful because he knows that he can defeat our hope over and over again as soon as we get up from praying or reading in the Bible. Too often our spiritual lives also get stalled because of how our brothers and sisters around us respond to our struggle. Instead of real encouragement, we might experience quite the opposite for any number of reasons. Sometimes the person isn’t really accurately listening to us to hear the nature of the struggle. Sometimes the person doesn’t know enough of our story to understand why we were defeated….again!!

All of this reminds me of what I love about Paul’s words to the Corinthians:

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We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and  take every thought captive to obey Christ,” 2

2 Cor. 10:5 ESV

What we don’t always recognize is that eliminating negative patterns of thinking will not automatically bring about positive, “can do” patterns of thinking. We need to deliberately replace them with positive truth that we affirm to ourselves.

Archilbald Hart has written seven paraphrases of such truth based on scripture that gives a picture of what I mean so let me share them with you:

  • “God loves me more than I can ever imagine, and I can never travel beyond the reach of this great love.” (Rom. 8:39)
  • “No matter what my sin, God forgives me if I repent, confess, and return to Him.” (1 John 1:9)
  • “There is nothing I can do that will cause God to turn away from me.” (Heb. 13:5)
  • “Whatever I attempt to do, if it is God’s will for me He will give me the strength and wisdom I need to accomplish the task.” (Phil. 4:13)
  • “If I seem to fail because circumstances are against me. God will always give me another opportunity if I return to the starting point.” ((Psa. 37:24)
  • “God never wants me to give up. Never, never, never, never.” (Josh. 1:5,7,9)
  • “Hating myself doesn’t make God love me more; it just makes it harder for me to see his love.” (Psa. 103:10-12)

God has created our powerhouse brains to be resilient and adaptable. If we have had a fixed mindset, replacing lies and negativity with truth from God’s Word can change it. We also can choose to spend time with those who encourage us and believe in us even when we don’t believe in ourselves and remember that it is those very struggles that God can and does use to produce more endurance and resilience in us.

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Rom. 5:1-5 ESV
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8 thoughts on “Mindset: The Key to Hope

  1. Thanks for your post, Pam.

    I read Angela Duckworth’s book about fixed vs. growing mindsets sometime back. As someone who teaches (adults) and works quite a lot with children too, it struck me as important material to read and understand because it matters a lot whether I approach people with a “this is a mistake…a permanent expression of your level of talent, knowledge, or skill, that will never grow or change” or whether I approach them with an attitude of “this is just a snapshot of where you are now, but you’re growing. In a week, a year, a month from now, you’ll be leaping over these hurdles.”

    I think it’s probably easier for people who have a growth mindset to approach things with a growth mindset. That IS how we see the world, for the most part. So, though we may have times of challenge, when we get beyond the immediate challenge and get back to our true selves the growth mindset which is natural to us reasserts itself.

    I think when you talk or think about how people relate to the mistakes, challenges, and struggles of another, the primary factor is probably whether that person is in fact someone with a growth mindset or someone with a fixed mindset. The person with the fixed mindset is more likely to SEE the world and its inhabitants as fixed. The growth mindset people are more likely to SEE the world and its inhabitants as ever changing, ever growing.

    I think for this reason, it is important work for each of us to work on our own mindset. When we find ourselves looking through a fixed mindset, we can remind ourselves (perhaps using the verses you listed) that the reality is that we are always changing, always growing. The world is always changing, always expanding.

    I enjoyed your post a great deal. This is the first I’ve seen a spiritual take on Duckworth’s book on fixed and growing mindsets. It was an interesting and insightful read.

    1. Hi Laurie!

      What fun to have you share about the book and all you gleaned from it. I would agree with your observations. (I spent 13 years as a teacher of junior high students before graduate school propelled me into becoming a licensed professional clinical counselor working largely with adults.)

      Your comments blessed me and I so appreciate all the time you took to share them.

      Have a blessed week and stay safe!🎄

  2. This conversation of growth and fixed mindsets is such an important one. I appreciate how you’ve linked it with scripture here. Have a great week Pam!

    1. Thanks, Marielle! I think we all benefit from reminders. Our thoughts can be influenced by things in subtle ways many times.🎄

  3. Happy Thanksgiving Pam, from Canada. I flip between a growth and fixed mindset. I love the verses you shared, especially how hating ourselves pulls us our faces away from God. We forget in those moments, that God is within us, and we are made in His image. I’ve been there but thankfully, He never turns away and I just need to shift my gaze back to Him.

    1. Thanks so much, Lynn! I so appreciate your sharing this. I think we have all experienced variability between the mindsets as the Lord continues to grow us up in Him and we walk through life’s challenges.💕

  4. What a powerful prompt to consider, friend …

    And meanwhile, I’m wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving no matter where you are or who you’re with. May you be filled with peace and hope!

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