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  • Writer's pictureMaria Kallenbach

How to Achieve a Flexible Mindset

Many years ago, I read a book called, Mindset, The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. It shared ways we could learn to reach our full potential in areas of parenting, business, school, and relationships by developing a "growth" mindset. It so was liberating! For years, I had what was called a "fixed" mindset. I felt very mediocre. I said things like, "I'm not good at math." "I'm not good with names." "I'm not very athletic." Saying these things gave me a free pass to not even try. I just accepted I was the way I was and I wasn't going to get much better. You can see how learning I could reach my full potential with a "growth" mindset in many areas of my life was very encouraging!

This book really got the ball rolling for me in the right direction. I began looking for ways to improve in some areas that were lacking. Over time, I began seeing results as this shift in my thinking allowed me the courage to try things I wasn't comfortable trying in the past. I was more positive and open to learning new things. I was no longer someone who would just say something like, "I'm just not a flexible person." After learning about how this "growth" mindset worked, I now believed I could learn to become more flexible. It will take time, effort, and an open mind, but it was possible and probable!

"Keep on keeping on!"

This served me well when I became a burn survivor. I really needed to develop more flexibility both physically and mentally. I knew I could make my situation better, but it was going to take a lot of work. I had 3 skin grafts that restricted my movement. I was given numerous worksheets with pictures of people doing exercises from my physical therapists and occupational therapists and told to do each exercise several times a day. They made it clear that if I didn't move, I would lose the ability soon. This terrified me! I religiously followed their advice. I was committed to giving everything I had to get my mobility back.

It worked. But it took many hours of sitting with worksheets doing each stretch exercise the designated time given, going to all my physical therapy appointments giving everything I had to give, and then doing even more work on my own if I still felt tight. I was diligent but I felt like getting my mobility back was a full-time job. My improvements were small at first, but soon I began to see some great results. All the hard work had begun paying off. I had crossed a "critical threshold" that took me to a whole new level. I kept remembering how my dad had fought cancer and how he always told me "Keep on keeping on!" This served me well both physically and mentally.

"How did you show up today?"

While I was working on getting my mobility back I transitioned into adding in strength, balance, and flexibility through yoga. During this time I was constantly combatting flashbacks and depression. My body was moving better, but it still looked awful. I had lived my life up to this point taking so many things for granted. Now I just felt like such a mess. On the day of my accident, I didn't have a clue what the next couple of years were going to be like for me. You never know what circumstance you will be asked to face. I was strong, but was I strong enough? I was trying to be grateful for where I was, but I was losing it quite frequently and on the edge of depression.

One day I was listening to a podcast by Hal Elrod when he said, "How did YOU show up today?" He was discussing how little we have control over. We cannot control what happens to us or what other people do. Our happiness was all up to us. He was going to define his year as "good" or " bad" based not on his circumstances, but on how he handled it all. This was very eye-opening to me! He said, "Become the BEST version of yourself by showing up every day. My year will be defined by how I showed up this year. The quality of my year will be how much I've grown...who I am becoming doing what's right, not what's easy."

"I felt like I had unlocked the secret to how to have control even when I felt out of control!"

I had really had a rough year and it looked like the next was going to be pretty rough as well. I was facing numerous surgeries to clean out scar tissue from the tube rammed down my throat at some point in my rescue and also painful laser treatments to break up scar tissue on my arms and legs. But what if I could take some control of my life back mentally? Adversity tested my limits and I had very little control about whether there would be more pain in my future, but could I somehow find peace in my life? I had been praying for peace and was desperate to find it. I began to ask myself, "How did you show up today? With patience? With gratitude? With courage?" I learned a lot by forcing myself to answer these types of questions. I began asking my kids how they "showed up" at school. I felt like I had unlocked the secret to how to have control even when I felt out of control! Did I "show up" with integrity when I was frustrated? Did I "show up" with grace when someone made a mistake? Did I "show up" with patience when things didn't go my way?

Bad things will happen. Plans will get changed. People will disappoint you. But you have control over how well you handle it all. Ask yourself, "How did I show up today?" It's not about perfection, it's about progress. You will stretch yourself by analyzing how you "showed up". As you examine YOUR actions, you will begin to depend less and less on the circumstances or actions of others to define your day. Your day will be good or bad based on how well you showed up. You will begin to see ways to be more courageous, patient, merciful, grateful, and full of integrity. Your life can change little by little as you flex your mindset muscles. Hal Elrod once said, "Spend your day stressed out or blissed out. Life is happening either way!"

Let's summarize! How to Achieve a Flexible Mindset:

  1. Learn how to nurture a "growth" mindset.

  2. Keep on keeping on.

  3. Ask yourself, "How did you show up today?"

  4. Work on growing as a person little by little each day.

Read Your Bible & Pray Every Day,


1 Thessalonians 5:18 "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." Bible KJV

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