My Old Boots – kickstarting a growth mindset!

April 1st, 2021 by Kat Kingsley-Hughes

I need new walking boots. My old ones have served me so well. They did a lot of miles.

I bought them a long time ago in a shop where you could try them on and have a go at walking over some simulated rocks. Buying boots was a somewhat time consuming process of trying on a pair, tying up all the laces and then waking over this lumpy track feeling where the boots rubbed or whether you felt sure-footed in them. You tried on many pairs that felt wrong until eventually finding the boots that felt just right. The owners of the shop didn’t want you leaving with the wrong boots. Sadly, that shop is long gone.

The thought of shopping for walking boots online is a bit daunting. How can I manage without the expertise of those shop assistants? What if when I get them, the boots feel wrong? Can I keep on sending them back until I get the right ones? How long is that going to take?!

And I have had a year of mostly not wearing shoes at all. So nothing is going to feel right on my feet anyway.

And then after I find the right boots there is the breaking in period which is an uncomfortable process. And with my old boots I spent years customising them for my feet by wearing them and walking. They’ve walked in lots of different places and countries. New boots will feel strange and probably unpleasant for quite some time. It’s all going to feel a bit weird.

Then there is my fitness. How far will I get up the mountain before I feel exhausted and need to sit down? Probably not very far at all. And I’ll have to go on my own because who would want to walk with me if I’m just going to have to sit down after a few yards? It would feel awful to give up and then get back in the car and go home again.

It’s tempting at this point to decide that I won’t buy new walking boots.

It’s a natural thing to ponder if perhaps my days of climbing mountains are over.

An impatience arrives. Kat, just buy the bloody shoes!

Our brains hate ambiguity. We want all in or all out. We want the situation fixed!

But fixed is a word with two meanings. It can mean to fix or mend. Or it can mean fixed and rigid, or stuck. If you think about it they are really very similar. And it can be so easy to jump to fixing something and when we do that it’s usually to a fixed position of thinking. Either walk or give up!

If you have a fixed mindset you want rigid rules about how things are, what’s happening, what you can or can’t do, what others can or can’t do.

The alternative to that is a growth mindset. That allows for all sorts of possibilities. A healthy system is not one with a fixed position. A healthy system has flexibility.

Perhaps I will buy new boots. Perhaps I will find them uncomfortable and send them back. That’s OK. With a growth mindset, trying things on for size is just a part of the process.

Or perhaps I will wear them and walk 50 yards, sit down exhausted and then head back to my car. With a growth mindset, that’s OK. I just try again another day. And next time maybe I will get 100 yards. ‘Failure’ is an essential part of the process.

A fixed mindset – and jumping to fix something – often causes so much discomfort and stress. And we all do it. That ‘all or nothing’ kind of thinking is everywhere. Our society (and especially the media) are largely based around fixed thinking. Just scan some newspaper headlines and you’ll see it. We are told umpteen times a day that we should be thinking one way or another. But it’s in the middle where the flexibility can be found. And flexibility offers real hope for growth.

So what do you do when you catch yourself with a fixed mindset? Well that’s easy. Jump into a growth mindset straightaway by cutting yourself some slack! Life is a learning process.

The key is noticing those fixed thoughts and stepping back a little from them. What are the extremes in this situation? How could I find something in the middle?

Where am I jumping too fast to a fix? The above thought process from looking at my old boots to remembering the process of buying them, anticipating the difficulties of buying new ones, to deciding it was pointless and that I should probably give up hillwalking forever took about 8-10 seconds. It’s literally an open and shut case before you’ve had time to even notice what’s happening or even that you’re thinking. So we need to slow it down.

Slow it down so you can see how you might be skipping over some place in the middle that feels uncomfortable or brings impatience. How would it feel to hang out in that middle for a while? Actually feel the ambiguity and muddiness of it all? Jumping to anger or irritation is another quick fix. Giving up is a quick fix too.

Also mindfully ask your body how it feels about it. So often we want to skip over uncomfortable ideas because they bring uncomfortable sensations in the body. How would it be to hang out with those sensation for a moment or two? When we stay with a difficulty long enough to feel it, flexibility has the room to emerge. Oftentimes answers are right there waiting to be heard.

So I am not going to end this post by telling you if I bought the boots or not.

Nor will I tell whether I climbed the fifty yards or the whole mountain.

I am deliberately leaving it open. Notice the mind reacting to that! 😉

Live the ambiguity … love the flexibility … find the growth!

Happy trails … 💃🏻

This entry was posted on Thursday, April 1st, 2021 at 8:34 am and is filed under Flotsam. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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