Many people think that they can’t change who they are, their intelligence, or anything else about themselves.
But this is far from the truth. We all have the power to shape our own thoughts. One way to do this is to engage in growth mindset activities, a concept we’ll explore in this blog post!
Growth mindset activities stem from the belief that we can improve ourselves because of what we do right now. Not through some other magical event down the road.
The growth mindset is a scientific concept developed by Carol Dweck, a TED talk speaker and professor at Stanford.
In this blog post I will talk about activities for promoting a growth mindset! I’ll be speaking about binge eating especially, but the same concepts apply elsewhere!
What is growth mindset?
As stated in my previous article about growth mindset for binge eaters, Carol Dweck says this about growth mindset:
The ideal growth occurs when people see their abilities as malleable rather than fixed.
Essentially, a growth mindset is defined as the belief that intelligence and talents can be improved.
This means that the activities you do now will lead to improvement in your future. Instead of believing there is some inherent quality about yourself or others which cannot change.
For example, can students improve their IQ scores? If you have a growth mindset you’ll say yes, students can improve!
Of course you have to study hard, look at the problems you missed and figure out the right answers, then with practice you can improve your IQ scores.
And you even need to have some fun too!
A fixed mindset is the opposite of a growth mindset. If you have a fixed mentality, you’ll tend to believe intelligence is something you’re born with. The activities you do now won’t improve your intelligence in any way.
To summarize fixed mindset in one word: stuck.
For example, the belief that students can’t improve their IQ (and therefore risk study drugs to get better grades).
(If you’re a teacher, one of the best mindset activities for kids is to teach them about how intelligence can change over time!)
Unfortunately many adults have a fixed mindset, including many overeaters!
Sadly, many times kids when they were younger developed a fixed mindset. Because whether in the classroom or at home, they were taught that life is predetermined.
They were taught that certain people are born smart, or athletic. If you’re not one of them, too bad for you.
But if you want to overcome and stop binge eating, then you MUST have a growth mindset. This is NOT optional.
Think about it. If you are stuck, then if you don’t believe you can change, will you? That’s a fixed mentality and it doesn’t help you develop the internal resources necessary to transform.
But the growth mindset says you can improve, even if you aren’t sure how to do it just yet.
So how can we develop growth mindsets? Let’s briefly talk about general strategies and principles first. Then we will dive into specific activities to promote a growth mindset.
What are the 5 ways you can develop a growth mindset?
If you have a fixed mindset then you’ll need to develop a growth mindset.
The five characteristics of growth mindset according to Carol Dweck’s research are:
- Growth is possible with effort and practice.
- You can learn from mistakes.
- Challenges are opportunities for growth and learning, not threats (and thus not discouraging).
- Ability is developed through consistent hard work over time (not a result of innate talent or intelligence.)
- Intelligence isn’t ‘fixed’ – it grows like muscles do when you exercise them regularly.
Now that we’ve covered some general ideas on developing a growth mindset, let’s give some practical examples and activities!
What are examples of a growth mindset?
1 – Growth is possible with effort and practice.
This is the whole premise behind the growth mindset. You can improve your skills and activities through consistent practice over time.
For example, if you want to learn a new language or play an instrument, then with effort and continuing practice you’ll definitely get better!
If you persistently keep at it, even when it’s hard, soon enough you will be speaking fluently or playing songs on the piano! With proper mental preparation and dedication this outcome becomes likely 🙂
This is a difficult concept for overeaters to internalize.
Most overeaters have become accustomed to either following meal plans or calorie counting. You are following something.
But, when you merely follow a program to lose weight then you are not practicing anything.
You are not improving any skills. You are being obedient to someone, that is all.
Instead, you need to practice skills! I recommend you first start practicing the skill of Mindfulness Journaling. Based on my experience coaching clients on a 1:1 basis, and my years of experience in eating disorder clinics, I know this positive skill alone can stop binge eating.
Growth Mindset Activities to practice: Start practicing mindfully recording BEFORE you eat.
Remember, the point is not simply to record what you eat, but your emotions and thoughts too.
Why? You are practicing the skill of pausing before you eat. With practice you’ll get better.
2 – You can learn from mistakes (opposite of fixed mindset)
It’s critical for binge eaters to learn from their eating “mistakes”, aka binges.
If you want to stop binge eating then it’s absolutely essential you become able to learn from your binges.
However, this is really difficult for many overeaters because they feel so guilty and ashamed after bingeing.
In turn, they want to skip the “mistake” part. They want to figure out how they can be perfect next time and lose weight as fast as possible. As if you could lose weight without a growth mindset!
But diets encourage you to stick to old things that only work temporarily, and never to try new things that challenge you to teach yourself new skills that can lead to permanent change.
Sticking to the old ways doesn’t work! Instead you need to learn from your mistakes as well as the consequences of those binges (such as guilt). This takes time but it will be well worth it in the end!
For example, why did you binge?
- Were you too hungry?
- Did a negative emotion happen earlier in the day that went undetected for hours? But built up inside of you and then eventually exploded?
- Were there any triggers?
- What about cues?
- What emotion made you binge?
- Do you know what was your reward from bingeing?
These are all questions I ask my clients in our 1:1 coaching sessions (whether verbal or written coaching). If you’d like to learn more about my services, read here.
See how a binge “mistake” is actually not a mistake at all, but an opportunity to learn?
This might sound corny, but it’s ESSENTIAL to overcoming bingeing.
Many overeaters who have decades of guilt can’t handle looking at their past bingeing. When they think about a binge they can’t help but feel extreme shame and embarrassment.
If that’s you then I recommend reading my blog post on compassion.
Binge eating disorder is often caused by self-loathing. So it’s important for overeaters to develop more compassion towards themselves during recovery 🙂
This unlocks your ability to learn from your mistakes, and also unlocks your ability to learn from binge eating!
In essence, compassion unlocks a growth mindset.
Growth Mindset Activities to practice: Analyze your mindful eating journal to see if you can spot any patterns when you overeat.
Remember, don’t feel ashamed of overeating. If shame pops up you must counter this shame with compassion and understanding for your inner child.
With compassion, you can learn from your binges instead of simply blaming yourself.
Because when you blame yourself, you don’t learn anything and just make the same mistake anyways!
3 – Challenges are opportunities for growth and learning, not threats
A common strategy among many overeaters is to totally avoid activities that might be challenging.
For example, you know mindfulness journaling is the foundational skill, but you never act and try it.
Or, you try it but quickly stop because you forgot to write down a meal and think you failed.
This makes superficial sense because it’s much easier to sit on the couch and mindlessly watch TV all day instead of having to face your fears in reality.
But, this avoidance only strengthens fear rather than weakening its power over you 🙂
Instead, if you do what seems impossible then BAM! You are practicing a growth mindset. And guess what? With proper mental preparation and dedication the outcome of freedom and growth becomes likely 😀
Key take-away: Oftentimes failure feels like a threat. Why? Because of shame and guilt. Shame makes failures seem 100x worse than they actually are in reality.
If you make a mistake, you may instantly think you are a failure and cannot succeed. Perhaps this is why you haven’t started journaling yet?
It’s the fear of failure!
Remember, failures are simply opportunities for growth and learning.
A binge is simply feedback that you missed a sign; like hunger, an emotional trigger, etc.
So if you fail at journaling your meal then don’t beat yourself up – apologize to your inner child instead!
Then try again tomorrow 🙂 Don’t give up on activities that might be challenging, because this strengthens fear over time. OK? Got it? Good 😀
Growth Mindset Activities to practice: What activities have you been avoiding lately due to anxiety? Try doing them anyway despite feeling anxious? Go easy. See how doing one repetition feels.
Remember to learn from your practice. Don’t just record your food with mindfulness, although that’s great if you do. But really try to study your food journal to stop patterns.
Take it week by week.
It’s ok if things are difficult. Difficulty is to be expected. But … remember, in a growth mindset challenges are opportunities to learn and are not threats!
4 – Ability is developed through consistent hard work over time
I know it sounds corny, but ability is developed through consistent hard work over time.
This might sound obvious to many of you already — and that’s awesome! But for some overeaters this can be a difficult concept.
Why? Because we have been conditioned by society to believe our abilities are fixed at birth (e.g., my mother overate and constantly tried dieting so I have binge genetics and can’t stop).
However, neuroscience has proven that all activities strengthen the brain depending on how much effort is put in during practice 🙂
In other words, your ability to do something depends on whether YOU keep practicing.
Look, to beat bingeing there are few core skills.
- Pausing before you eat
- Understanding your emotions (practice writing them out!)
- Seeing how too much hunger leads to bingeing
- Seeing how emotions lead to bingeing
- Practicing compassion (instead of turning to food to feel better)
- Learning about your emotional needs, and practicing getting those emotional needs met
- Catching negative thoughts
- Speaking to inner child instead of negative thoughts
- Noticing how food makes you feel, and aiming to feel content
And that’s about it!
Look, 9 skills is a lot. I get it. But if you look at this list, you’ll see that a lot of them are interlinked, which makes it easier to work on.
But you CAN do it. You CAN be free. If you develop your abilities over time. Do you see why now the growth mindset is such an important thing, if you want to be free of bingeing?
Growth Mindset Activities to practice: It starts with mindfulness journaling! Start a mindfulness journaling practice today!
And good news too … You do NOT need to be a master at a growth mindset. Think of playing scales on piano or a really easy song like hot cross buns.
It’s not THAT difficult. Tough yes. But once you get over shame and fear of failure and instead start learning from your binges, you’ll make so much progress that your momentum will carry you over the finish line!
Lastly, one of the best things you can do to ensure that you persist through tough times is to find a supportive community of like-minded people.
If you’re interested in mindfulness journaling and compassion, then use this link to learn more about the Eating Enlightenment Community.
5 – Intelligence isn’t ‘fixed’ – it grows like muscles do when you exercise them regularly
Admittedly Carol Dweck doesn’t talk about binge eating, she talks about intelligence and growth mindset! Check out her TED talk if you haven’t already!
But what if we substitute ‘eating’ for ‘intelligence’? Because our bodies do have natural intelligence and wisdom!
If you’re wondering how to eat normally, peacefully and sustainably healthy …
Then the answer is tapping into your body’s natural intelligence through growth mindset activities!!
But how do you do that!
Well, in a nutshell, you have to practice regularly!
Growth Mindset Activities to practice: Start something small, and swear to yourself that you will learn how 🙂
That’s what Eating Enlightenment is all about! Growth mindset!