Play It Forward Therapy

The One Word To Guide Your Mindset

The One Word To Guide Your Mindset

Looking back upon this past year, hindsight is 20/20!  In other words, the ability to see clearly what should have been done when looking back upon the past.  There were many lessons to be learned not only on a global level, but on a personal level too.  During the pandemic, most of us found ourselves in unanticipated circumstances that affected our families, jobs and overall health and well-being.  However, in spite of the challenges, when the new year arrives, it never hurts to take some time to reflect on our past experiences, both professionally and personally, how they have shaped us and what we can learn from them.

The truth is, there are always going to be circumstances beyond our control that will impact whether we’re able to attain our goals in spite of how hard we try.  However, there are also times when we may surprise ourselves at our own fortitude, determination and perseverance that enable us to come out on the other side even stronger and wiser.

It’s not always possible to control the circumstances around you, however, you can control how you respond to those challenges.  It definitely takes some effort, hard work and often a willingness to try a new approach or a new way of doing things.  Many of us found ourselves in a situation of having to take school and work online during the pandemic.  It presented many challenges in how we would typically run a business or participate in online learning.  For pediatric therapists who are used to working hands on and with children in person, the challenge of combining our clinical expertise with technology greatly influenced the overall effectiveness of the therapy services provided via telehealth. The therapists that had an open mindset to different model of service delivery, who could pivot quickly and who sought additional training were the most successful in being able to continue to deliver high quality therapy services online.  On the other hand, some practices were forced to close as they were unable to adapt and pivot during this difficult time.  But it is not too late, because there are always more opportunities to enhance our learning and to become better therapists whether in person or online.

No matter what your current role in life is right now… The big question is, “How can you adapt, pivot and progress to help change your own situation for the better?”

The answer is… it all starts with the right mindset.

Have you ever heard of a “growth mindset” ?  Do you know the difference between a “growth mindset” versus  a “fixed mindset”?   People that have a fixed mindset tend to believe that they can’t do much to change their intelligence and their abilities.  For example, if you’ve ever heard someone say, “I’m just not a _________ person.”  There’s an underlying sense of defeat or being stuck even before getting started.   A lack of mental flexibility  can be your own worst enemy when it comes to preventing you from reaching your potential. Is your inner coach or your inner dialogue holding you back from reaching your potential?

On the other hand, when you have a growth mindset, you believe that your skills and intelligence can be improved with effort and persistence.  Instead of avoiding challenges, people with a growth mindset persist through obstacles, thrive in the face of a challenge.  They also have a level of internal intuition and can learn from criticism and seek out inspiration in others success. (1).

Modern psychology recognizes how our “belief systems about our own abilities and potential fuel our behavior and predict our success.”  Much of this understanding stems from the work of Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck who is known for the book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.”  As a pediatric occupational therapist, mentor and coach, I find that her research is remarkable when pondering why presence is more important than praise in teaching kids how to cultivate a healthy relationship with achievement as well as how these mindsets are formed.

Depending upon which mental framework you adopt, or what has been instilled in a child from an early age, significantly impacts your behavior, your relationship with success and failure in both your professional and your personal life. (2)

Do you believe that you can get better at something by putting in the effort, time and energy?

Do you think about how you can work on your own shortcomings or flaws to become the best version of yourself?

Are you able to reflect upon your experiences and focus on the process and not just the outcome?

The ability to change your mindset will take some self-reflection, inner work along with a forward thinking outlook. As an occupational therapist, I always like to base how I practice how I learn and how I teach anchored in principles of neuroscience.  And the good news is that recent advances in neuroscience have shown us that brain is truly malleable.  This type of neuroplasticity and connectivity between neurons can change with experience, practice and the actions and strategies we take.

By changing your mindset from a fixed mindset to that of a growth mindset, it will help you overcome setbacks and how you face certain obstacles in a more productive way.  This type of growth mindset is applicable to ALL circumstances and situations and it’s a practice that we can teach our children.

If you’re a parent, teacher or a pediatric therapist, do you ever wonder why some children shy away from challenges or crumble at the first signs of a struggle?  Why do some children refuse to try a new activity or have a history of quitting various activities if they didn’t immediately excel?  As a parent of two school age children and as a therapist, I’ve noticed that for most children I’ve worked with, this mental framework does not come naturally.  It takes some specific teaching, guidance and coaching to help cultivate a growth mindset not only in ourselves, but also in our children.

By teaching kids and ourselves to adopt a growth mindset, it can help us change or prevent destructive thinking patterns.  Cultivating and nurturing a growth mindset is a skill for life that will help kids overcome obstacles and reach their fullest potential.

We all want for our children (and ourselves) to be able to lead happy, fulfilling lives and to help them reach their potential.  We are all role models for our children, So, my challenge for you this year is to think about one word that can help you change your attitude and grow your own intelligence and skills through mindful effort.

Instead of making a new year’s resolution this year, consider kicking off this new year by choosing a positive word or a phrase that will help guide your actions while nurturing and encouraging a growth mindset.

Take a moment to offer yourself some grace and give yourself some credit for your resilience this past year.   What are the personal qualities you have that got you through the tough times.  Remember, you are strong, resilient and have unique and special gifts that only you can offer.  I challenge you to think about the coming new year as a fresh start.

What one word or phrase will help you find a fresh perspective to inspire your mindset no matter what happens in the upcoming year?

If you are able to adopt a more holistic, positive, growth mindset you’ll set yourself up for success this year and for years to come.  Your children, clients and students will see this quality in you.   If you believe your brain can grow, you’ll behave differently.  If you are able to focus on one positive word or phrase to guide your thoughts and actions this year, you’re much more likely to follow through.  When you recognize that it takes a mindset of growth and learning to truly become your best self will be poised to help others to be their best selves too.

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