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Mindset - friend or foe?

Mindset is a set of beliefs, assumptions, methods and notions that shape how we make sense of the world and ourselves. It influences how we think, how we feel, and how we behave.

Having a clear or fixed mindset enables us to “navigate” through life in a relatively fluid and unconscious manner; if we see someone dressed in blue with a gun at his/her side we don’t start asking ourselves, “is it someone dressed up as a police officer on their way to a fancy dress ball”, or, “is it a bandit disguised as a police officer”. No, we “assume” it is a police officer, and ninety-nine times out of a hundred it is indeed a police officer.

Our mindset helps us in all those “routine” day-to-day tasks; we switch on “automatic” and “without thinking” we sail through our days.

Our mindset also impacts our interactions with others. It will impact us emotionally in terms of how we feel about someone and it will impact us cognitively in terms of our thoughts and beliefs about someone.

When the medical team turns up at the scene of an accident, we normally feel safe and reassured, and think and believe that we are in safe hands – this helps us to de-stress and relax.

Likewise, when a band of football hooligans turn up, we feel in danger and ill at ease and think that we may be attacked – this helps us to prepare for our “flight or fight” options.

A mindset is neither good nor bad, it just is. The problem with a mindset is when it becomes stagnant and inadvertently prevents us from seeing the opportunities available to us. Our experience, for example, may have convinced us that the opinions and ideas of a certain type of person are not worth listening to and hence we unconsciously “switch off” when they speak or unconsciously exclude them from conversations. Taken to an extreme, this could mean surrounding ourselves with like-minded people and operating in a kind of echo-chamber – leading invariably to “groupthink” and ineffective decision making.

Being aware of our mindset can help us to overcome the repercussions of the restrictions it puts on us by consciously looking at people and situations from a different point of view.

We can move from an unconscious, “That’s a stupid idea. It will never work,” to a conscious, “that’s an idea. I’m not sure if it will work, but let’s explore it further and find out.

If you would like to know more about how we, at PCO, can help you to identify how your mindset may be hindering you, contact us at:

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