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Changing Beliefs & Mindsets

Here are a few more general strategies that you can use to improve your resilience


When bad things happen (A for ADVERSITY), it helps to stop and consider what’s going through our heads. Are we saying things like, “This isn’t fair!” “These things ALWAYS happen to me.” “This happened because that person doesn’t like me.” or “I’m just not good at math, history, etc.”?

These phrases are examples of our BELIEFS about why the bad thing happened. Write down what the voice in your head is saying…

It’s important to note that what the voice in your head says is NOT always right!

Now it’s time to reflect on this and see if anything can be changed… An ADVERSE event happened…You wrote down your BELIEFS about why it happened… Now follow that trail…. If you stay with those thoughts, what are the CONSEQUENCES?

So for example, you failed a math test (ADVERSITY)…You are thinking, “No surprise, I’m just not good at math.”(BELIEF)…Nothing changes because you think this is just who you are (CONSEQUENCE)

What if you change your mindset (more about this below!)  So you’ve still failed the math test, but now you think, “I wonder if tutoring would actually help?” Consequently, you start working with a tutor and you actually pass the next exam!

Beliefs are important and often, until we really make them come out into the light, we might not even know they are there influencing our lives. So the next time something adverse happens, try using the ABCs to work through to more positive outcomes! Read more about this technique shared by Dartmouth University as an activity described in The Resilience Factor by Reivich & Shatté (2002).


Mindset describes how we think about our abilities: 1) as FIXED – the amount of ability we have in any given area is a set amount – we either ARE good at math or we are NOT, or 2) as GROWTH – with effort and support we can improve our abilities in most areas. Dr. Carol Dweck’s research at Stanford University on mindset reveals that having a growth mindset can lead to improvement in all areas of life. Take her test online to see whether you have a fixed or growth mindset, then work to change those areas in your life where your outlook tends to be more fixed with her four simple steps to change.

Also, here’s a hot-off-the-presses article on changing mindsets from The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley.

Notice how this ties into the ABCs method above in terms of your BELIEFS about things.


Wait a minute! Did she really say that? Yes!!!  Sometimes it’s good to just think about learning and not your grades! Are you enjoying what you’re studying?  Cory Muscara of Simple Habits shares a 5-minute meditation to help you worry less! Create an account and you have 7 days to enjoy different meditations for free.  See the separate section on the Mindfulness Connection for free resources in this area.

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