Read This If You're Scared Of Expressing Yourself Because You Don't Want To Be Judged

April 20, 2016

Do you avoid expressing yourself because you don't want people to judge you? It might be because you have a fixed mindset, as opposed to a growth mindset.

self improvement articles social anxiety

This is the difference between the two mindsets when it comes to social interaction:

Growth mindset: I SAID something awkward.

Fixed mindset: I AM awkward.

Someone with a fixed mindset believes that "who I am" is static. They believe that they can't change it in any meaningful way. Their successes and their failures simply confirm who they are.

Someone with a growth mindset believes that "who I am" can be developed, and every failure is an opportunity to learn. Their successes and their failures are separate from who they are.

With a fixed mindset, every social interaction becomes an evaluation and confirmation of "who I am". When you say something awkward you take it as proof that you are mediocre. Because of this you avoid challenges like expressing yourself or sharing your personal opinion... since these challenges are difficult and are likely to expose your flaws. You prefer to succeed at easy tasks, like staying quiet, because it lets you avoid failure.

With a growth mindset, every social interaction is an opportunity to improve. Saying something awkward is simply an indication that you need to put more effort into that area. It is not a sign of failure or a reflection of "who I am."

The trick to accepting yourself is to see your behaviors as something separate to yourself.

If a child says something impressive you would cultivate a fixed mindset (the bad one) if you told them "You are a smart boy/girl". What you are doing by saying this is connecting what they did to who they are. This child then learns to fear difficult challenges because failing the challenge means that they are a failure.

You can cultivate a growth mindset instead (the good one) by telling them "You did a good job". You are no longer connecting what they did to who they are. The feedback is only about what they did. They learn to enjoy failure and see it as a necessary step towards improvement.

It might be helpful if you change your own inner dialogue. Forget "who I am" and focus instead on "what I did."

Maybe keep a rubber band on your wrist and then change wrists every time you catch yourself feeling uncomfortable with "who I am." Think about "what you did" instead, and what you could do differently.

Eg. You say something awkward in a conversation. Then you catch yourself thinking "I'm awkward."

Think instead: "I said something awkward. What can I say next time to be less awkward?"

It's okay. Laugh about it.

Over time you will find it easier to share your opinion and express yourself because your behavior will no longer be tied to your opinion of yourself.

Credit: via research from Carol Dweck. Check out her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success if you want to read more about this.

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