Transforming Challenges into Growth Opportunities
Weaving the Mighty Ms together (Mindfulness - Mindset - Metacognition) has helped me achieve my goal as an educator. The Mighty Ms act as a scaffold, which enables students to strengthen their resilience as they tap into their potential and pursue their aspirations.
If students have strategies that help them relate to challenges, stress, anxiety, worry, doubts etc., then they are more likely to remain engaged in the learning process. Without such strategies, students can feel overwhelmed, which may cause them to spin out, tune out or shut down. In those moments, they're at risk for believing whatever their inner critic is saying and, as a result, those self-limiting beliefs can dictate any next steps. Possibilities begin to shrink as the will to remain safe in one's comfort zone solidifies.
When students learn how to be with their thoughts and feelings, rather than fearing them or feeling flooded by them, resilience is fostered from within. Each time they bring their inner resources to meet the demands of their day, both inside and outside of school, they're exercising and reinforcing a growth mindset. Vulnerability feels less threatening, possibilities expand and learning deepens. As the saying goes...what we practice grows stronger!
I define mindfulness as bringing a kind, curious and nonjudgmental attention to our moment-to-moment experiences. Mindfulness has also been described as two wings of a bird - awareness and compassion. What am I observing? And, how can I be with it? In other words, how can we be with challenging thoughts and uncomfortable feelings without causing ourselves more stress and additional suffering?
The term mindset was coined by Carol S. Dweck, a world-renowned psychologist from Stanford University. She has extensively studied how two different mindsets, a fixed mindset or a growth mindset, can affect one's ability to achieve success. Those with a fixed mindset believe their intelligence and talents are fixed traits. As a result, their self-esteem is constantly fluctuating because they feel their sense of self is based on results and praise. Those with a fixed mindset often shy away from challenges because they don't want to make a mistake or risk losing. Whereas, those with a growth mindset believe that one's abilities can be developed through consistent effort. They are more willing to embrace challenges and are intrinsically motivated to overcome obstacles. They display more grit and have a love for learning. Reading Dweck's book Self-Theories was a game-changer in my life, and I highly recommend it!
Metacognition is defined as the ability to become aware of one's own thought process. I believe metacognition and mindfulness are intrinsically related to one another. Mindfulness exercises provide a structure to help us observe our body-mind, which then gives us the ability to understand the workings of our minds.
“Parents think they can hand children permanent confidence – like a gift – by praising their brains and talent. It doesn’t work, and in fact has the opposite effect. It makes children doubt themselves as soon as anything is hard or anything goes wrong. If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. That way, their children don’t have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence.”
- Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success