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How mindsets affect resilience

Resilience is defined as the capacity of an individual to quickly recover after facing a difficult situation. While some people used to believe that resilience is an inborn characteristic, researchers and experts on psychology have shown that resilience can be developed

One of the key factors in developing resilience is to have a stress-resilient mindset, which allows an individual to be mindful in any circumstance–enough to gain confidence in their own abilities and let go of past failures. 

Discussed below are select types of mindsets that illustrate the relationship between mindset and resilience.

Fixed mindset

People with fixed mindsets have the tendency to fixate on the idea that people are born with the character and level of intelligence and creativity they display – and that these will remain unchanged throughout their lives. Their assumption is that people are static.

Fixed mindset people believe that they were simply born deficient if they lack aptitude for certain subjects or have poor skills. Because people with fixed mindsets conclude that they will never be good at whatever they lack, they abandon any attempt to improve.

Those who have shown high aptitude or skill, on the other hand, see themselves as invincible and infallible and they have a difficult time coping when they are proven wrong or experience failure. They consider anything other than excellence as failure. Instead of assessing the situation objectively, however, fixed mindset people may simply place blame on others.

This type of mindset can be a huge roadblock to developing resilience because fixed mindset people have the tendency to avoid pursuing anything that they will not excel in, yet they are also threatened by other people's success. Fixed mindsets may struggle to strike a balance between these two tendencies and this would hinder their ability to develop resilience in the long run.

Negative or pessimistic mindset

The negative or pessimistic mindset is an individual's tendency to focus on the negative aspects of any circumstance they face and they tend to attach permanence to negativity.

Pessimists tend to believe that the positive things they experience are only temporary and the negative events are permanent. They also tend to attribute positive experiences to luck or the result of forces outside their control instead of taking credit for it. For instance, a person who gets promoted at work may assume that their boss is simply either kind or just took pity on them instead of thinking that they possess the right skills for the job.

On the other hand, when negative things happen, they fail to look at things objectively and instead think that these events happen simply because bad things always happen to them. For instance, a person who loses their work due to company closure wouldn't think that their unemployment was due to the company's bankruptcy but because bad things have always and will always happen to them.

Similar to the fixed mindset, people who have a pessimistic mindset may simply give up without even trying and this prevents them from developing resilience.

Trapped mindset

While not a formal mindset classification, the trapped mindset refers to a person's tendency to remain trapped in their assumptions regardless of facts and evidence. People with this mindset favour their own assumptions, jump to conclusions, and are quite rigid with anything that falls outside of their thinking traps.

For instance, if a person with this type of mindset encounters their colleagues conversing and laughing in the office hallway as they pass, they would conclude that they are the subject of the conversation and consider that their colleagues are bullies even though they didn't actually hear anything. Due to unfounded assumptions and their refusal to accept explanations contrary to their judgment, people with trapped mindsets may have difficulty coping with various circumstances that challenge their beliefs.

People with thinking traps exhibit a mix of fixed and pessimistic mindsets and may find it difficult to develop resilience because of anxiety and stress.

Positive and growth mindset

Definitely a mindset that promotes resilience, people with a positive and growth mindset look for the silver lining even in the bleak situations they face.

Those who exhibit a positive or growth mindset welcome the challenges they face and use it as opportunities to learn and improve themselves. For them, there is always another way to conquer the difficulties they face. These people would keep on trying until they finally achieve their goal–and then keep going to improve some more.

A great example of an individual with a growth mindset is Thomas A. Edison who famously said, "I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

Because Edison developed resilience by using each of the failures he experienced as a stepping stone towards his goals, he succeeded in inventing many of the technologies that the world still uses today.