If you’re interested in writing authentic characters – and I sure hope you do! – then you want to deal with the different human mindsets. They have tremendous impact on the way people think and act and knowing how your character ticks enables you to make their decisions more authentic.
A fixed mindset is a very rigid and limiting way to see the world. It’s the conviction that you do not have the power to grow and change yourself and your situation. Someone with a fixed mindset may believe that he is stupid and that there is nothing he can do to change that. Being stupid seems to be a condition set in stone. This mindset encorporates all limiting beliefs like “I am stupid” or “I’m forgetful” or “I’m not good with languages”. All those things are conditions that can very well be changed, but the person holding those thoughts doesn’t realize that.
The problem with a fixed mindset is that it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think you are stupid, then you won’t give your all to get better. If you’re convinced that you’re forgetful you won’t make an effort to actually remember the names of the people around you.
Experiences reinforce their negative belief. If they think they aren’t compatible with math and they get a bad grade, their mind goes like ‘See? I’m just not good at this. No matter how hard I try, it won’t change.’
The fixed mindset very much equals a victim mentality.
A person with a growth mindset on the other hand sees conditions as situations that can be changed. They feel empowered to grow and to change. They take action in their own best interest and are convinced that they will find a way. This is a very powerful mindset, because science shows that your potential is way bigger if you believe it to be so. Humans are able to grow, but they have to believe that they can otherwise they won’t even try.
Experiences are simply an indicator of their current situation. The same bad math grade will lead to a thought like ‘Okay, I need to learn more next time. I have to find a way to understand this concept.’
The growth mindset equals the phoenix rising from the ashes.
Humans are complex beings and the world is not black and white. While you may have a fixed mindset in one area of your life, you can have a growth mindset in another. It does come down to the experiences you had throughout your life and the way you and the people around you handled them. If your parents always told you that you were stupid or unlovable, you’ve most likely picked up those limiting beliefs. If however they told you that you have the power to learn to get better next time or that you are lovable, you probably feel empowered to take matters in your own hand.
Your mindset is quite flexible and it’s possible to change from one into the other at any time. Having lots of negative experiences where you feel powerless, might let you slip into a fixed mindset without you even noticing it. Through awareness and empowering yourself you can actually also learn to adopt a growth mindset. Change the thoughts you hold about yourself and the expecations you have for yourself and you will change your mindset with time.
Here is an interesting site that has lots of information on the subject.
It’s obvious I guess that these mindsets have a huge impact on the way a person thinks and acts, right? Look at the background of your character and evaluate what kind of mindset the person has in different areas of their lives. What do they belief to be true about themselves? If you know that, then you know how they will act inside your story. And you know ways in which they can grow during their journey.
For me this is an incredibly interesting topic that I could talk about a lot. What kind of mindset do you have? What mindset do your protagonist and antagonist have? Are you able to grasp their characters?
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