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Is The Growth Mindset Killing Our Mental Health?

I saw a question posted on social the other day: “Why does taking a day off work for my mental health make me feel like a failure?”


Growth Mindset


I’ve been pondering the question a few days now. My two cents here, would include:


  1. The #GrowthMindset industry (that I preached, sold, taught, lived and invested 30 years in) is at best, an incomplete truth, and at its worst, abuse.

  2. #MentalHealth industry having a language very much for the mental health professionals, and not us lot over here in the patient’s chair. So their message tends to fall short for the masses. “You can’t speak butterfly with caterpillars!”

  3. #Individuals (us lot over here in the patient’s chair) don’t yet have the fuller picture on how to navigate our way out of the proverbial (mental) void. It’s kind of like “Read one book and you’re a pro, read two books and you’re confused” More important, us lot would be oblivious to the significant role the brain-body plays in a quality of mental health that makes it possible to have all sorts of fun, thriving. (and ironically, makes the need for the #GrowthMindset world, redundant.)



The Growth Mindset


#GrowthMindset affects at most, 5% of a human — the thinking self. The other 95% is unconscious (the brain-body is the unconscious). So we are playing a game with 5% of the pieces and wondering why we’re not winning. o_0


When an individual has been exposed to ongoing interpersonal stress that they are not equipped to process in and out of the brain-body at the time it occurs, the trauma it leaves on the brain-body can be touched and analysed on par with how a stroke leaves a lesion on the brain.


As such the brain-body (our unconscious self) becomes locked into operating states that continues to defend against a long forgotten unpleasant (unspeakable) experience, because the body represses (continues to hold) those experiences in the brain-body (unconscious self) until we (our thinking self) are better able to process them. If you’re in your 40s just now, that’s a lot of repressed stress that isn’t going anywhere until it is consciously moved out of the body. If your brain-body is holding all of those stressful experiences, is it any wonder that our brain-body has become dysregulated?


Words and thoughts (The Growth Mindset) have very little influence over a dysregulated brain-body, yet a dysregulated brain-body is the dominant influence over our thoughts.

I reckon that’s part of the reason why I can point to evidence of the #GrowthMindset approach working from time to time — yet never being able to create sustainable and profitable results for the long-term.



Growth Mindset


So to summarise — the #GrowthMindset industry promoting any version of a mind-over-matter philosophy (matter = brain/body aka your unconscious self) is preaching an incomplete truth. The way out is in… to the body. A regulated brain-body naturally wants to excel, expand, grow, and accomplish all sorts. It is the human’s natural disposition.


The #GrowthMindset is designed to bypass brain-body work (which is impossible for long term change), and can at times, mirror a lot of the “Get Rich Quick” ideologies. We have moments of results, but they are hardly sustainable and profitable.


The Growth Mindset is (perceived to be) needed when the brain-body is dysregulated. We don’t know we are dysregulated, we just know something needs to change. The #GrowthMindset feels like a grown up place to go for such change. I, myself, spent over 30 years there.


And yet, a regulated brain-body has an infinite and eternal fuel source of inspiration, creativity, and ability to fulfil its innate desire to grow. Ironically, this regulated state gives rise to a growth mindset that doesn’t need to be genetically modified, engineered or orchestrated using external props. It is simply within us to recover.


Mental Health Industry


The #MentalHealth industry has enormous amounts of valuable information that can get lost in translation. Not all, but the majority of it, while sound advice, doesn’t register. It often doesn’t resonate, nor sound in any way relevant to our day to day. Or the headlines have been recycled for decades now — desensitizing us to its message. Or we find ourselves automatically thinking: “I tried it 10 years ago, didn’t work, so we don’t feel bothered to engage it now”.



Growth Mindset


Us, lot, we just don’t know!


#Individuals with a dysregulated brain-body, almost always, don’t know they have a dysregulated brain-body. How could we?

Yet the dysregulated body is the starting point for quality mental health that eventually, will allow things like #GrowthMindset to be effective.

Only, by then, we won’t need the #GrowthMindset industry to any real degree, because it will already be our natural disposition once brain-body have moved from a dysregulated state, to a quality regulated state.


Resources for Regulating Brain-Body:


Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) is essentially a stress disorder that emerges from ongoing exposure to stress. It can be varying degrees of extreme to mild. Personally, I would assert 80% of the world’s population has some for of C-PTSD. I would be one of the 80%. My focus is very much C-PTSD at Work. I include some of my own resources on the subject, along with some books and practitioners that I have come to appreciate and greatly respect.


  1. Bessel Van Der Kolk’s book: The Body Keeps The Score

  2. The Haunted Self — by Ellert R. S. Nijenhuis (Author), Kathy Steele (Author), Onno van der Hart (Author)

  3. My 500 Ft. Illustrated View to finding your way out of the proverbial void. The PDF is an instant access — shannoneastman.com — hover over free resources, drop down to C-PTSD recovery and click for the PDF to open.

  4. Roseanne Reilly — a skilled and qualified practitioner whose work facilitates brain-body regulation.

  5. Stephanie Hartwell — another skilled and qualified practitioner whose work facilitates closure (She is the Closure Coach) for past experiences that are running the show today.

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