March Spotlight: Renewal

Renewal

Although it may not feel like it just yet, Spring is right around the corner. You’re almost there. Maybe you can start to feel that internal shift, the lightness that often comes as the days are noticeably becoming longer, sunshine is offering more vitamin D, and milder weather allows us to get around with more ease. We know the snow will soon be melting and the ground will thaw, ready for new seeds to be planted.
Spring is a season of renewal, growth, hope and new beginnings.
Did you know your brain can also go through a process of renewal? Think of your brain as a garden that has been untended and grown over, or a thick dark forest with branches, brambles and thistles of neuropathways, intertwined and enmeshed, winding throughout. These pathways have been used for years, trampled on over and over again, but these paths are old, unhelpful, automatic and rarely lead us to our desired destination. We often arrive at the same place wondering, how did I get here again?
What if you could create new pathways? What if your brain, developed new ways of responding that resulted in new patterns of behaviour? It is possible! You do not have to automatically respond to stress, conflict, or day-to-day interactions with unhelpful patterns of behaviour or from a place of trauma.
You can do things differently. Starting now.

Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to form new connections and pathways and change how its circuits are wired (Bergland, 2017). You can actually change the pathways of your brain! When we learn something new, we create new connections between our neurons. We rewire our brains to adapt to new circumstances. This happens on a daily basis, but it’s also something that we can encourage and stimulate. If you repeat a pattern, you can create new pathways and ways of responding.

This is empowering and hopeful; you have the capacity inside of you to make deep, authentic, sustainable change! With renewal comes growth, and new possibilities. This relates to another concept you may already be familiar with, having a growth mindset.
A growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities and traits are things you can cultivate or change through your efforts or training. People with a growth mindset, embrace challenges because they believe that they can learn from experiences, develop their skills, and improve with practice – all of which can lead to greater achievement. Whereas individuals with a fixed mindset believe that their qualities (such as intelligence and other personality traits) are “set in stone”; one’s traits are fixed, not something that can be practiced or developed. As a result, when they fail at a task or face a challenge, their fear that they might not succeed often stops them from progressing. (Dweck, C. (2007) Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Random House.)
Here are some examples:
Fixed Mindset

Either I’m good at it or I’m not.

That’s just who I am. I can’t change it.

If you have to work hard, you don’t have the ability.

If I don’t try, then I won’t fail.

That job position is totally out of my league.

Growth Mindset

I can learn to do anything I want.

I’m a constantly evolving work in progress.

The more you challenge yourself, the smarter you become.

I only fail when I stop trying.

That job position looks challenging. Let me apply for it.

How to develop a growth mindset:
  1. Acknowledge and embrace imperfection
  2. Face your challenges bravely, you can do hard things!
  3. Pay attention to your words and thoughts; what messages are you telling yourself?
  4. Stop seeking approval from others
  5. Take a step deeper into authenticity – become who you truly are, not who you think you should be
  6. Cultivate a sense of purpose
  7. Appreciate your strengths – and work to improve your perceived weaknesses
  8. Value the process over the end result
  9. Use constructive criticism to fuel growth; we are all a work in progress
  10. Learn from the mistakes of others
  11. Not yet is ok; keep practicing and you will get there
  12. Take risks in the company of others
  13. Be realistic
  14. Go at your pace
  15. Own your attitude and cultivate resilience
One of the most helpful approaches to managing negative thinking and developing a growth mindset is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with Mindfulness (CBTm). CBTm supports that thoughts, emotions, physical reactions and behaviours are connected. CBT tries to change things by changing either your thinking patterns or your behaviour.
Care for All in Education offers a FREE 5-week course on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with Mindfulness available to ALL staff working in Manitoba’s education sector.

Please check our events page to find out when it is being offered and register or share with those who may be interested. We also have a variety of other free courses that may also be helpful for you at www.careforallineducation.com/events or call 1.877.602.1660