Mental Hammers

selective focus photo of black-and-brown ball-peen hammers

No one likes to fail. But some folks are so focused on the possibility of failure that they either freeze or become over-anxious and unable to perform. Their fear of failure actually creates failure. This is one of the hallmarks of a fixed mindset, where fear of making a mistake – of failing – actually forbids us to grow beyond where we are today.

There are people who manage to sabotage their own efforts, often unconsciously, not because they are afraid of failure, but because they are afraid of success. (Doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it? It happens to more people than you’d think.)

You see, we all carry around a mental picture of ourselves, and if success is not a part of that picture, we are running with our shoes nailed to the floor. While a part of us wants success and all that goes with it, another part is silently saying, “That is not like me. I am not comfortable with this kind of responsibility,” or something along those lines.

We may be perfectly capable of success in other ways, and we may have all the necessary skills and abilities. But it is like growing a pumpkin inside a jug. You can slip a flowering pumpkin vine inside a jug, and the pumpkin will grow to be jug-shaped. Later, you break the glass, and you have a jug-shaped pumpkin. But that’s all you get. No further growth. The glass jug is equivalent to a fixed mindset.

You see, your picture of yourself, your self-concept, is like the glass jug. It tells you where your limits are. Techniques like affirmation and visualization are used to help when you want to get a bigger jug or, in other words, when you want to comfortably stretch your idea of who you are and what you are capable of doing and being. In the case of your mental glass jug, affirmations and visualizations are the “mental hammers” you use to break the glass.

With practice, you can embrace a growth mindset and get to the place where neither failure nor success will upset you. You see them both as assets in your quest for greater self-knowledge and enhanced personal and professional growth.