Do I have a negative mindset? Test yourself here - Lifecoach München

Do I have a negative mindset? Test yourself here

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Simon immediately makes a sympathetic, but also a somewhat unhappy impression. Some things suggest after the first conversation with him that he has significant problems at work.

Things aren’t really going well in private either. Simon would like to know how he can be more confident. His negative mindset may be preventing him from doing so, he thinks.

What exactly Mindset means, he does not know. Half-questioning, he says, “Maybe it has something to do with mindfuck – it’s also such a fashionable term – or something to do with self-sabotage?” His girlfriend thinks that he really needs professional help because he has a negative mindset.

Simon doesn’t blindly listen to what his girlfriend says, but at work he is also repeatedly told that he is too negative. He is also fastidious and has an obsession with order. So he seeks advice from a life coach.


Blog overview

  1. Description of the problem: Does Simon have a negative mindset?
  2. Test: Which mindset do I have? (after Carol Dweck)
  3. What is a mindset anyway?
  4. Assistance life coach: change the mindset
  5. Mindset in in psychology
  6. Mindset in philosophy
  7. Breakdown test questions


Description of the problem: Does Simon have a negative mindset?


Simon tells me – with exasperation in his voice and posture – that he doesn’t know where to start at all. I ask how long he has had problems at work and at home, and how the problems manifest themselves in each case.

Simon is a dental technician, he is completely absorbed in his work, it is his vocation. If his colleagues think he’s too perfectionistic and often a bit rigid, he usually takes that as a compliment. For him, a change of profession is out of the question. He can sooner imagine having his own practice, or he would also like to work in a smaller practice with nice colleagues and a sympathetic boss.

At the moment he works in a large practice with many colleagues. But his main problem is his choleric, self-absorbed boss. Simon carries his bad mood around with him all day. Nothing can be done about that, he says, such bosses never change.

Simon gets along relatively well with his colleagues, but he doesn’t know what to talk about with them. He doesn’t like small talk, and he thinks that’s not something you can learn. He prefers to avoid conflicts.

Simon is a bit shy, so he has already been in psychotherapy. However, he feels that he still has not found himself. Only together with his girlfriend he feels comfortable. Lately, however, he has also lost this feeling. The bad mood, the negative mindset, he took home with him. His girlfriend says he didn’t use to be so negative when he was a student.


Test according to Carol Dweck: Which Mindset do I have?


Answer yes or no to each question. At the end of the blog, you’ll find a breakdown of which statements go with which mindset.

1) Intelligence is innate, thus cannot be changed.
2) I am capable of learning, but my intelligence is unchangeable.
3) It is possible to increase one’s intelligence.
4) Intelligence can be increased, no matter how smart I am.

5) You cannot change certain characteristics of a person.
6) No matter what peculiarities I have, I can always change (to a large extent).
7) I can do some things differently, but I can’t change much.
8) I can change to a large extent as far as my character is concerned.


What is a mindset anyway?


A mindset is a way of thinking, a style of thinking. The term received attention primarily from psychologist Carol Dweck. It distinguishes two thinking styles or two mindsets: the growth mindset and the static mindset. The central question is to what extent people think that their intelligence, abilities or personal characteristics are fixed or, on the contrary, developable.

In classical philosophy, the term mindset cannot be found, but the attitude of the Stoa is somewhat reminiscent of Dweck’s remarks. The goal in Stoa is to reach a state in which one is free of affect (mistaken value judgments). This ultimately leads to eudaimonia (happiness).

Life Coaching
In life coaching, both views of mindset are important. Simon has a negative attitude, a negative mindset in some areas of life. In life coaching, these views are also called beliefs. With the help of some life coaching tools, Simon was able to overcome his negative (fixed) mindset.


Assistance Life Coach: Changing the Mindset


I work with Simon in parallel on different topics. To increase his self-worth, we consider important aspects for this at the beginning. Simon first describes his situation in his own words. After that, I bring his words to the point. It is mainly about self-acceptance and beyond that about dealing with other people.

With the help of the Enneagram, we find reinforcing descriptions and maxims that significantly strengthen his self-acceptance. His negative view of himself (the negative mindset) decreases significantly.

In communication and empathy training, Simon finds that small talk is actually quite simple and can even be fun. He finds pleasure in bringing his own topics into play during conversations with friends or colleagues. With an insight into story-telling, he understands how to persuade with small anecdotes. To others, this makes you look calm or even cool. His way of thinking (mindset) becomes much more positive.

In the medium term, we are considering the extent to which it is realistic for Simon to run his own practice. He concludes that it is better to look for a job in a small practice first. He has since successfully applied and is about to leave the large practice. His boss must have noticed something and suddenly became friendlier. Apparently, he has come to realize that Simon is a valuable force that is not easily replaced.

Simon’s relationship with his girlfriend has also improved. His girlfriend is happy that he is working on himself and has left his fatalistic attitude (the negative mindset) behind.


Mindset in psychology


If we are to be successful in achieving the goals we set out to achieve, the faith we associate with them will have great influence. This belief or conviction can also be translated in another way. In psychology, there is often talk of self-efficacy. Those who are able to solve problems even in difficult situations or who can overcome conflicts with some strength are considered to be self-effective.

Carol Dweck, a researcher in the field of motivation and developmental psychology, believes she has tracked down the power behind self-efficacy. This involves a certain conviction or basic attitude. Dweck calls this the Mindset and landed a bestseller with the book of the same name.

She found, for example, that children have different mindsets or ways of thinking. In doing so, she explored the extent to which these children value intelligence and specific skills or strengths. This is how she arrived at two different mindsets, which are also evident in adults:

Fixed Mindset (static self-image)

1. intelligence is in principle unchangeable.
2. being successful refers mainly to the end result. If the result is not satisfactory, it is considered a failure.
3. are errors, or refer to a lack of intelligence or competence. They have a negative effect on motivation. They awaken the inner critic and create negative feelings of powerlessness, anger and rage.

Conclusion: People with a fixed mindset see themselves as less self-efficient and less changeable. Success may give a short-term boost in recognition, but stable self-worth is not. Because the next failure is already lying in wait. In life coaching, people with a similar attitude are also called other-directed.

Growth Mindset (dynamic self-image)

1. intelligence is ambiguous (social intelligence etc.) and in principle changeable.
2. success is less about an end result and more about a process.
3. mistakes are necessary steps in learning. They offer development opportunities. Motivation is intrinsic and self-worth is enhanced.

Conclusion: People with a Growth Mindset are self-effective and see themselves and others as changeable. In her opinion, success refers to various life goals, not just work. Success means being able to align your values with your goals. In life coaching, people with a similar attitude are called free and self-determined. They feel responsible for their own happiness and also their misfortune.

Mindset and stress

Building on the studies just outlined, psychologist Alicia Crum shows how big an impact mindset has on health, exercise and stress management. For example, our attitude toward stress – whether we perceive it as positive or negative – has a major impact on the stress we actually feel. When we believe that stress leads to excellence, this belief is confirmed and negative health symptoms do not occur.

Conversely, a negative view of stress leads to a decrease in performance and an increase in health complaints, even burnout. It is irrelevant whether or not stress has scientific benefits for performance and health. The mindset has a decisive influence on how we feel and what we achieve.


Mindset in philosophy


In philosophy, the Stoa is a way of thinking that is perhaps best compared to Carol Dweck’s Mindset concept. It is important to know that psychology has developed from philosophy and not vice versa. Many philosophical thoughts can be found in (positive) psychology.

Stoa (literally “portico”) divides philosophy into logic(rhetoric and dialectics), physics, and ethics. Ethics is primarily about knowing what important values are. The goal is to be guided by it and to act accordingly. Nothing else is done in life coaching.

How does the Stoic attain happiness?

The Stoic, however, sees himself threatened by the affects (mistaken value judgments) because they pretend to reason. For the Stoic, the soul (mind) should be free of affects in order to achieve the desired state of apatheia (insensibility). Whoever reaches this state is wise and free, which ultimately leads to eudaimonia (happiness).

The two worlds of Epictetus

But how can this state be achieved? The Stoic Epictetus had a few thoughts on this. It divides the way we can decide into two directions:

There are things in the world that we can control, such as our own thoughts and feelings. That which is beyond our control is, for example, the thoughts and feelings of others, but also quite banal things like the weather or the economy. We can think what we want about it, we can’t influence anything. So a lot of it is outside of our control.

Those who know this difference live more relaxed lives. Simon did not know this difference. He allowed himself to be influenced too much by the whims of his boss. He transferred this bad mood to his girlfriend at home.

How would the stoics answer Dweck’s questions?

1. intelligence is ambiguous (social intelligence etc.) and is in principle changeable.
2. success is less about an end result and more about a process.
3. mistakes are necessary steps in learning. They offer development opportunities. Motivation is intrinsic and self-worth is enhanced.

Ad 1 Quote: “The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts. […] “Your mind will take the form of what you frequently hold in thought, for the human mind is colored by such impressions.” – Marcus Aurelius.

On the subject of intelligence as such – as we interpret it in the narrower sense – there are no references in the Stoa. A Stoic living in our time would say intelligence means knowing the difference between what we can influence and what we cannot influence. NB. Cognitive behavioral therapy is based on these and similar findings.

Ad 2“Every night before going to bed we must ask ourselves, “What weakness have I overcome today?” What virtue have I acquired?”Seneca.

Success here should be seen as a process. A successful life is a virtuous life. A Stoic, however, would phrase this differently and ask what constitutes a good life. NB. In positive psychology, this ritual is called Savouring, the art of enjoyment.

Ad 3“A gem cannot be polished without friction, or a man perfected without trials.” – Seneca.

So basically the Stoic says: life is a learning process, we have to face challenges. There is nothing wrong with making mistakes in the process. On the other hand, the Stoics also knew errors of a different kind. Emotions were understood differently than we do today. This was more about judgments or opinions. There, many Stoics found fault.

This stood in the way of the ideal state of Apatheia. However, such emotions could be controlled. This is where behavior therapy comes in. She tries to teach sufferers that their shyness is an unfounded fear, a false judgment as it were.

Conclusion: in at least two out of three theses the Stoics would agree with Carol Dweck’s theory.


Breakdown test questions


1. intelligence is innate, thus cannot be changed. → fixed Mindset
2. I am capable of learning, but intelligence is unchangeable. → fixed Mindset
3. it is possible to increase his intelligence. → growth Mindset
4. intelligence can be increased, no matter how smart I am. → growth Mindset

5. you cannot change certain characteristics of a person. → fixed Mindset
6. no matter what peculiarities I have, I can change (to a large extent). → growth Mindset
7. I can do some things differently, but I cannot change myself to a large extent. → fixed Mindset
8. I can change to a large extent as far as my character is concerned. → growth Mindset


© Timo ten Barge [23 .03.2021]

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