#7: The Fantasy of A Fixed Mindset

Is it possible to adjust and fix our minds at a certain setting? Join Suraj and Rani in this podcast episode exploring the popular ideas about developing a growth or a positive mindset and why it is perhaps more useful to consider having an open outlook.

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Transcript of episode #7

Suraj
I have a question for you. Is it possible for us to adjust and fix our minds at a certain setting? So that we have what is called a ‘mindset’? What do you think Rani?

Rani
Well, if I could have, you would have known right?

Suraj
Yes, so today we are going to examine this commonly held belief that we need a certain kind of mindset to bring about any change in us or our experience of life.

Rani
Hi, and welcome to our podcast. This is Rani here

Suraj
And this is Suraj.

Rani
And today we are going to talk about limitations of a positive mindset. And I don’t know about you, but I keep hearing the term again and again. Some other synonyms might be – having a growth mindset, having a possibility mindset. And although it sounds fascinating, and a lot of personal development programs are aimed at how can we grow a mindset or how can we have a positive mindset, today, we just wanted to challenge the belief that we can acquire a positive mindset and that it’s going to stay with us.

Suraj
And I hear a lot about business mindset and entrepreneurial mindset as well in our audience that we serve, you and I. Yeah, it’s fascinating, isn’t it? I’m really excited to explore this today.

Rani
Yes, because the flip side of it is people might get worried that they will be labeled as having a negative mindset and no one wants to go there. We don’t want to be labeled as someone having a negative mindset or a negative frame of mind.

Suraj
Yeah. So let’s explore Let’s dive deep, explore this topic about mindset – is that something which we can attain? Is there such a thing as a mindset? If not, where does it all come from?

Rani
Surely there is conditioning, right? So we know that a lot of our conditioning happens unconsciously, as a child growing up in an environment will be picking up and soaking a lot of information from the environment, the parents, the beliefs of the parents, and teachers, schools, siblings, the friends and culture and so on and so forth. So that’s a conditioning that happens without us realizing and what happens is when we go into the realm of personal development, then we try to do some conditioning, what people say is like mind hack, neuro linguistic programming and a lot of self help techniques out there is designed to do that. People seem to benefit, at least in the short term. And I remember doing NLP, neuro linguistic programming and I felt – this is fascinating! I can hack my mind, I can have a positive mindset. That was years ago.

Suraj
As humans we’ve created this illusion called the mind – this separate thing that separates you and I. We seem to have a lot of problems. Then we’ve, kind of, invented all these fixes to fix our mind as well. So we’ve created all these fixes and solutions and strategies to deal with problems of the mind as we believe it. So can we ever fix our minds do you think, to always work at a certain setting? Is it possible at all?

Rani
I have tried, and I know people who try and there are people who might not be extremely honest and they might say – yes, I have a positive outlook towards life. And maybe they are like that most of the time. It could be genuine that their conditioning has been very rich and nurturing, especially when they grew up. But I think the downside is …Think about it. If our thinking keeps changing and we are meant to be having like 84,000 thoughts a day and things happen around us, surely there will be times when we really feel negative. And it’s not like we have a choice or anything, it just comes to us. And we are immersed in that anger, that hatred, that rage and that fear. The problem, I think, is when we claim to have a positive mindset, a positive outlook all the time or 95% of the time, this also could be a pretense, a facade whereby we think we need to show up as cheerful and energetic as if we are never burdened by life, as if we never feel stressed by life and that’s the challenge and that’s what then cause a lot of suppression of emotions and feelings and it comes out in ways like stress, and then it could stress the body, stress the mind.

Suraj
That’s a trap that we can easily get into, isn’t it when we say – Well, we’ve got to have a positive mindset, we’ve got to have a positive outlook as much as we can. Then that comes at the expense of going along this belief that there are positive thoughts and emotions and there are negative thoughts and emotions. And if you’ve got a positive mindset, you’re only filling yourself up with all this so called positive emotions.

I don’t know about you. I think when people talk about positive outlook, when you look at those people and their lives, and you say – well, they talk about that outlook and they look very peaceful. So I think when they say positive outlook, I don’t think they mean positive as in positive thinking all the time. It’s a more of an open outlook, terminologies can be confused sometimes.

And I think it’s more of an open outlook. So you are almost not trying to manifest events in your life all the time, but you’re more in a place where you are happy for life to unfold in its own way.

Rani
Yeah,

Suraj
That’s the outlook we’re talking about. And if there is such a thing as a mindset and it’s that sort of open mindset if you like

Rani
Yeah, and that’s freeing. But what I don’t hear in the notion of having a open mindset is – we are not saying we’ll only go and collect positive vibes or try to think positive or try to change the state. What I’m hearing is when you have an open outlook, you’re embracing both the stuff that you would call positive as well as the one that you call negative. You’re not saying that you’re going looking for negative, or anything that makes you feel low or anxious. But when those happens, you’re not attached to them or you’re not fearful of them. You’re not trying to resist them, because that’s what I see happen a lot of time.

Suraj
Yeah, the positive lens is quite different from having an open lens through which you look at life and experiences.

Rani
Yeah, and it could be very exhausting, right?

Suraj
Yeah

Rani
Just like having a negative mindset could be exhausting. And what I mean by that is, again, some people are labeled as having a negative mindset. All it means that maybe innocently, they have fallen into the trap where they constantly ruminate and think about the past or worry about the future. Even if something nice comes along, they are still thinking about – “this is going to pass anyway. So I’m going to feel low”. And again that you can see will have…There’s an implication to that, right? So we are not saying, try to change that. But once people really understand that there’s more to life, that there’s more to their experience of life, they learn not to fear their negativity or their past experiences or do not keep worrying about the future. Because one has passed, one hasn’t come yet. Things do shift. Mindsets – again, I hear this again and again. And I’m thinking, I’m not sure what sort of mindset I have, Suraj.

Suraj
There’s no such thing as a mindset because you cannot set your mind. That’s something that’s transient that comes and goes as we keep pointing every time Our mission is to kind of clarify that and throw light on that.

Rani
Yeah. And something about gratitude. There’s a difference between experiencing gratitude and functioning from that place, rather than saying, I’m going to be grateful. And so I need to count my blessings or I need to do a certain ritual in order for me to feel gratitude. And I know…there’s nothing wrong in that. We’re not don’t do that if it really works for you. But we’re saying that…The metaphor that comes to mind is about the glass being half full or half empty. And what we strive to do is see the glass as half full rather than half empty. What we are pointing to is that the level of water, again taking the analogy of the glass in the water, the level of water will keep rising and will keep falling within that glass. And it’s not going to remain the same throughout our life or even in a particular day or in a few hours. It will keep going up and down, because our mood keeps going up and down. And so rather than just focusing on the level of water in the glass and saying, “Oh, I forgot to be grateful, oh, my glass is half empty and I’m feeling annoyed with myself because I seem to get into negative mindset”. The more we see it at a deeper level or the wider picture, what we’re saying the glass, we could look at that as the space within or the space (however you want to put it), where the dynamics of life expresses itself. So, the water, the tide, the upsets, the stressor – they come and they go. So there is no particular pattern. There will be sometimes tsunami of the mind where we might feel that there is a huge disaster happening and then there will be times when it quietens. But the more we look at that – there is an infinite container, there is an infinite space where the mind will do it’s dance and different expressions, then we know that where you are pointing to, Suraj, about the open outlook. It just gives us that more space. And we know that we are okay.

Suraj
Yeah. When you were talking about an example of the glass, I was thinking – yes, we appreciate the level of the water only because it’s contained in the glass. So what if there was no glass? There was just the water?

Rani
That’s interesting. Where would water be?

Suraj
Yeah.

Rani
That’s an idea, right?

Suraj
And then there’s no reference to quantify the amount of water then. So it’s all relative, isn’t it?

Rani
Yeah. It’s fascinating. So whatever we are pointing to is actually indescribable. So if you’re getting fixed on having a certain mindset, we are inviting you to just get curious and pause and really look at whether this is really possible – to have a fixed mindset.

Suraj
It comes and goes, it’s in constant flow. And you and I haven’t got the power of nature to stem that flow.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai