Mindset and depression are closely linked by the ability of the mindset you have to expand or contract your life.
The view you have of yourself has an overwhelming influence on the way you live your life and this is often a difficult concept to grasp when you are depressed. Simply acknowledging this concept and doing something about it are worlds apart.
Thought patterns can affect the way we feel each day and to control this, there is a need to question where negative thoughts come from. Questions to answer can include:
“I constantly limit myself. Where did I learn these beliefs?”
“When did I take on this type of thinking pattern?”
“At what time in my life did I begin the downhill slide I’m on now?”
“I don’t like the person I’ve become. When did this happen?”
“How did I get to the place I am in now?”
Research completed by Dr. Carol S. Dweck on the types of mindset is illuminating. Our state of mind and behavior is greatly influenced by our thoughts even though we know that our thoughts are not who we are as individuals. Our behavior is such that it corroborates the negative thoughts that we have. Depression is a state of mind and it is not who we are as a person. What I mean by this is: we are not a ‘depressed person, we are in a ‘state of depression. Changing depressive thoughts patterns that have been developing, often over many years, to overcome depression takes commitment and determination.
Carol S. Dweck in her book “Mindset”, established that there are two types of Mindset and she calls them “Growth” and “Fixed’.
“Fixed Mindset” is the belief that your qualities at birth are carved in stone. That the intelligence you have now and your moral character is what you will have for the rest of your life. Learning and growing are not part of the ‘fixed mindset’ way of thinking.
Many of us are trained in a fixed mindset early on in life, often unwittingly by those who care the most about us. Caregivers and educators that we come across in our school years may believe that the IQ and EQ we have initiated in school are fixed and as such treat us as though we have no capacity to improve.
In our early school years, we don’t like to be seen as stupid or unintelligent so we instinctively act to look smart. The outcome of this is that we fail to learn to take risks for fear of being ‘exposed’ as not being very smart. The enjoyment of learning and investigating new things are lost through fear of failing.
The behavior of ‘proving ourselves’ repeats itself throughout our lives whether it be in relationships, our careers, or learning institutions as we feel we are being continually judged.
This type of repetitive behavior is potentially devastating to our development.
“Growth Mindset” in contrast, is based on the belief that your basic qualities are just the starting point for development. You have the ability to learn, grow and cultivate whatever initial gifts, skills, interests, or disposition you have been given. If you have a ‘growth mindset’ you have the opinion that each one of us has the opportunity to change and grow through practice and the implementation of developmental exercises. Your potential at any given time or in any circumstance is unknown.
Now the uncertainty of any given situation is part of the process of growing. In children and adults with a ‘growth mindset,’ a love of learning can be created at any stage in their development. No longer does an individual feel the need to ‘prove’ themself as they believe that they are always on a learning curve and that any setback is just part of that learning process.
MINDSET AND DEPRESSION
As I mentioned at the start, the type of mindset we have can influence whether we are prone to depression or not and one of the tools at our disposal is that of changing our mindset.
In different areas of our lives, our mindsets may vary. Unfortunately, if you are struggling to overcome depression, it is likely that the “Fixed Mindset” is pervasive throughout most of your thinking and therefore, actions.
Over the next few articles, I will write more on Mindset, how it is developed and suggestions on how to change from a Fixed Mindset to a Growth Mindset as part of dealing with your depression.