In our first step to a “New Year, Improved You,” we talked about letting go of the need to be perfect so that we could make room in our life to do the hard work to continuously improve. We also talked about how unnecessarily fearing failure sets us up to fail.
All of this takes time and effort to shift your mindset. You may have been born with it, but your mind is not set. Today, our Keen Family Member AND Director of Keen Awareness, Ellen Crupi is here to share how to change your mindset.
Mindfulness was THE buzzword in mental health for 2017. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very important to be mindful, be present, and focus on the now. Especially for us trichsters and skin pickers, being mindful is critical. If we are not mindful of what we are doing then there goes dozens of strands of hair in a flash, or a batch of new scars on our skin. Been there, done that and mindfully don’t want to go back!
But mindfulness is only part of the equation. I have found that having a growth mindset is essential in my recovery, and in my day to day life. Below, I share some steps to shift your mindset, but first…
Mindset is a simple idea discovered and coined by Carol Dweck. Through her decades of research on achievement and success, she found that there are two mindsets:
a fixed mindset
a growth mindset.
Carol tells us, “In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success – without effort.”
“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work – brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and resilience that is essential for great accomplishments.”
Mindsets are beliefs about ourselves. Our minds are constantly monitoring what we do and interpreting our actions…it’s that running dialogue in our heads.
A fixed mindset focuses on judging. Does this sound familiar?:
I can’t stop! Why can’t I keep my hands down? I had no idea that I pulled that much hair this time, what’s wrong with me? I stopped for 3 hours, 3 days, 3 weeks (you fill in the number) and now I pulled, or picked, and all my hard works is gone. What’s wrong with me? I’m a loser. No one will ever think I’m pretty.
Or in cases where we are the parent or a partner of a loved one suffering from a body focused repetitive behavior like hair pulling, skin picking or nail biting:
What’s wrong with them? Why can’t they just stop? Why are they doing this to themselves? Am I a bad parent, spouse, or friend? What did I do wrong?
With a growth mindset, the internal monologue is not judgmental, it’s supportive. Now of course people with growth mindsets still feel sad, frustrated and defeated, but the difference is they look for constructive actions to take to improve:
I’m pulling (or picking) again and I can’t keep my hands down! OMG! Ok, what can I learn from this? Where am I and what am I doing? I’m watching TV and this is a danger zone so I’m going to…get up and put on a hat, gloves, drink some water, grab my fidget toy.
Is this easy?! No way! Is it doable!? Sure is, you just need to practice!
I started pulling out my hair at age 11 (more on my story in time). I also had a fixed mindset. I used to tell myself, “I won’t be good at math ever and I’ll always pull my hair.”
Last year I met a fabulous school counselor as my husband and I were deciding on schools for our daughter. I shared my relationship with math and the counselor told me about Carol Dweck, changing my outlook.
He said, “Ellen. You are not good at math, YET.”
This one word gave that whole sentence – and my inner dialogue – a completely different meaning.
Say this outloud: I can’t stop pulling or picking.
Now say this aloud: I can’t stop pulling or picking, yet.
Doesn’t it feel different? Empowering? Aren’t you inspired to action?!
Ready for action? Here are 3 steps from Carol Dweck to help you change from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. With patience and practice you will notice your thoughts and “flip a switch” to reset your mindset.
Step 1: Learn to hear your fixed mindset “voice”
As you approach the challenge of not pulling or picking your voice might say, “Are you sure you can do this? You have failed before, you don’t have the willpower to stop.” or “What if I fail and I start pulling and picking again?”
If you hit a set back your voice might say, “You see, you can’t do anything, or now you’ve undone all the good work you put into not pulling/picking, you mind as well just continue.” “I thought you were capable but you are not, or it’s my mom/friends/husbands fault because they are stressing me out.”
When you hear your inner voice beating yourself up, just acknowledge it, notice it and move on to step 2.
Step 2: Recognize that you have a mindset choice
How you interpret challenges, setbacks and criticism is your choice.
Sort of like with your pulling and picking – it’s only once you have Keen awareness that you truly have a choice!
You can interpret your thoughts through the lens of a fixed mindset voice: that you are lacking in ability. Or you can CHOOSE a growth mindset lens, and recognize that the negative self speak is a sign that you need to ramp up your strategies and efforts.
When your ready to choose a growth mindset, move to step 3.
Step 3: Talk back with a growth mindset voice
Instead of, “I’ve pulled/picked. I’ve failed again.”
Talk back! Reverse it. Grow from it:
“I pulled/picked again. Where was I, what was I doing, did I have tools with me…what can I learn about this time so I can be more prepared next time?”
Here is also where you can add your “Yet.”
“I’m not gonna stop hair pulling, YET!”
“I can’t stop skin picking, YET!”
“My nails won’t be nice, YET!”
Once you’ve gotten in harmony with your growth mindset voice you can take on challenges on wholeheartedly, knowing that setbacks are just meant to teach. Learn and try again.
Like awareness, your mindset can be slippery. We have our days that we pull and pick less than other days. Mindset is like that too. But the more you practice and learn about yourself, the better you become and the more resilient you are during setbacks.
If you give this a try, let me know how you do. You can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By learning to reset your mindset, you will be able to take on anything that life throws at you.
Next week, we’ll share more tips on how you can IMPROVE YOU!
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With just three weeks in, I hope the New Year is still Happy for you! Here’s to an Improved (& Imperfect) You!
Love, strength + awareness,
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Conquering with Keen: Elizabeth's Trichotillomania Recovery Story
Elizabeth is a 21-year-old from Rhode Island, attending school in upstate New York. She’s struggled with Trichotillomania since age 12. This is how she is "Conquering with Keen Awareness." Elizabeth shares that the Keen bracelet "allowed me to retrain my brain to stop pulling out my hair."
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