Saturday, January 25, 2014

Friends don't let Friends Just Be

I read an article this week about the growth mindset versus the fixed mindset. The learners versus the non-learners.

 A learner, someone with a growth mindset, is not ashamed to make a mistake. They are not ashamed to raise their hand in class and ask a question, even if the question may be silly. They are not ashamed to be vulnerable. They are not ashamed to work hard. They are not ashamed to learn from people who are better at something than they are. They love with their whole heart, even when there's no guarantee. They view failure as an opportunity, not a condemnation. When they don't do well in something naturally, they think, "I could sit here in my misery or do something about it." And their disappointment or failure is motivating to them to try harder.

A non-learner, someone with a fixed-mindset, thinks that "smart" people don't make mistakes, that hard work is for dummies, that effort is for those who can't make it on talent. Success to them isn't about being your best self, it's about being better than others. And when they're not better than others in it, they quit and go back to doing something that comes easily to them.

As a society, we sometimes value natural, effortless accomplishment over achievement through hard work. At least Calvin does:

Fixed mindset people seek friends and a spouse who will put them on a pedestal, worship them, and make them feel perfect. 

Growth mindset people seek friends and a spouse who will see their faults, challenge them to become better, and encourage them to try new things. All very lovingly, of course. 

Reflecting on this, I made the resolve to seek after people who will stretch me, and to be that kind of friend myself. I became very thankful for the the people I have in my life who have helped me grow. Every morning this week I went running at 6:30 a.m. with Chris, my new running inspiration I met at a fireside last week. Talk about not letting your new-found friend stay in her comfort zone. Chris has pushed me. 
And this morning, after much persuasion on his part, I went way out of my comfort zone and swam laps at 6 with my friend Jonathan. 
And last week Trent convinced me to go salsa dancing even though I'm terrible at it and I said no at first. And of course, it was a blast.
And last night Emily got me to go ice skating. And my mom got me to read "Super Immunity" which has made me more super health-conscious. And OH there are more--friends who have invited me to be a better member missionary or act in faith, etc.
All of these people could have just let me be who I was naturally, let me do what my first inclination was. It would have been easier. But there is a better way.  Becoming is better than being, even if we feel vulnerable in the process of becoming and feel like retreating.  

The world needs more people who care. And I want to be one. I want to be one who cares enough to help those around me discover the liberation of leaving behind all meandering in the pool of mediocrity and staying in the stagnant waters of the status quo.  Of course our goal is not to change people--we must love them for who they are. But true friendship will always entail bringing out the best and encouraging the full potential of our friends--even if they balk at first. Becoming is better than being. Friends don't let friends just be. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Talking Cure

I recently learned what Freud terms "The Talking Cure." In essence, we can solve our own problems by talking things out. So, having a listening ear is sometimes the best remedy, even when that listener doesn't say a word or give one smidgen of advice.

Here at BYU I am a Freshman Mentoring Peer Mentor--the fancy word for an upper-classman friend for incoming students. My supervisor is the one who told me about the "talking cure." We meet with incoming students and are a resource for them to help them succeed their first year. This past week I've met with about a dozen new freshman who, just like me, came to BYU last week. But unlike for them, it's a review for me and not a revelation.

Sometimes, as they talk things out, they come to their own conclusions. And others ask me for advice with things like feeling socially incompetent, managing a busy schedule, etc. Really, their concerns are exactly my concerns. And as I try to help them, I help myself.

God knows the talking cure works. So he has blessed me with the opportunity to tell people what I actually need to remember.

He's let me do this a couple times this week, outside of working with freshmen.
On the indoor track yesterday, I was dying. I wanted to run 3 miles but mile three hit and I was thinking of lowering my original goal and calling it a day. Then, out of the blue, a young man starts running just behind me in the lane next to me. I see the army coach tell him, "7 more laps. You're at 7:15." The boy next to me was slowing down. He was gasping. Understanding his pain I said, "You're doing great! You can do it!" He said, "I have to run 2 miles in 13 minutes to get 100." We started chatting. He said, "I'm using you as a running buddy, I hope you don't mind." Don't mind? I am the one who needed a running buddy to push me.

He had one lap to go and the coach yelled at him "11:16."

Me: You can get it in 13 flat!
Boy: No, I'm dying!
Me: a whole lap of all the motivational things I could think of....."There's plenty of time to feel good after can run faster than you think!....You can do it!" all things that I needed to hear)

He sprints to the finish line, then collapses.

Me: Way to go! What's your name?
Boy: Jordan. Thanks so much, I got 13 flat. :)

AND THEN, I was chatting on facebook with a girl in Paraguay. She's worried about the future and doesn't know how she's going to make some of the upcoming decisions she has to make.

I tell her, "Work instead of worry, faith instead of fear." I tell her all the things that have helped me in times like that. In times like this, actually.

And I don't know who benefited more from that---her or me.

I just had to talk things out. I already know how I should think, what I should do. Most of the time. I know what's true.

I just forget. 

But God reminded me.

 He placed listening ears in my path, disguised as people who need help.   I'm so thankful that the same ultimate Psychiatrist, Counselor, and Adviser is also my personal loving Heavenly Father. Which reminds me of one of my favorite songs by Cherie Call (the pictures don't really match up with the words, but the words are great!).

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