“I’m so stupid!”



I‘m so stupid!

People sometimes say this when they hear something they didn‘t know. It happened to me the other day when I was asked whether sequoias grow in Europe. I said they only do so in botanical gardens. And the reaction was: „I‘m so stupid!“

Which, of course, isn‘t true. Not knowing something says nothing about anyone’s IQ. But thinking they are stupid says a lot about their mindset.

And mindset is fundamental.

According to Carol Dweck, there are two different mindsets about intelligence, learning and success. People either believe they have innate talent – and thus refuse to do hard work, since that might only prove they do not have any talent. Or they think that studying, practicing and working hard will get them where they want to be. Those two mindsets are literally worlds apart.

It seems quite obvious that the second mindset is more useful and thus should be much more common. Sadly, that is not the case.

In addition, it is very easy to shove people into the first kind of mindset. Getting grades does it, and even praise can do it, if it’s the wrong kind of praise. Those who stress talent and intelligence in their praise (“My, what a smart girl you are!”) basically tell people their success depends on their innate abilities, rather than learning and practicing.

This is called the “fixed mindset”, because people in this frame of mind believe their abilities are set from birth. They either are a great basketball player, or they are not. And thus any failure is not only extremely painful, it’s a massive blow to self-esteem and their very existence. Wouldn’t you avoid being tested when the result carries such threat?

Mastering life’s challenges is much easier with the second mindset, the “growth mindset”. Personal growth classes, books and workshops only make sense when people believe that it is actually possible to change their abilities and personality, after all.

And that’s why I told the person who called herself stupid: “You’re not stupid at all, you just didn’t have the chance to learn this information yet.” And that’s really all.

Fortunately, it is possible to switch over from the fixed mindset to the growth mindset – which will make your life a lot easier. Here’s a tapping round to help you with that. Repeat it whenever you find yourself thinking “I’m too stupid”, or “I’m a loser anyway.” It’s simply a mindset issue.

Here we go:

KP: Even though I learned as a kid that we’re either born smart or born stupid, and I’m afraid I’m on the stupid side, I’m okay the way I am and I’m open to the possibility that maybe my teachers didn’t know modern psychology.

Even though I’m so afraid that I’m stupid and that often stops me from wanting to learn, I’m okay the way I am and I’m open to the possibility that learning and studying could actually be fun.

Even though I was always afraid that I’m stupid, that any talent was just imaginary, I’m okay the way I am and I’m open to the possibility that maybe talent doesn’t matter as much as actually learning and practicing stuff.

IE: I’m so stupid!
OE: Or at least I’m afraid I’m stupid.
E: That’s what they told me often enough, after all.
UN: And even if I got praise for being smart …
CP: I knew it would only take one mistake to bring me down.
CB: School was scary.
UA: I was always faking it.
AW: Or so it seemed.
Take a deep breath!

IE: I’m still afraid, deep down inside, that I may simply be stupid.
OE: Because I make mistakes, and they are a sign I’m stupid.
E: Smart people don’t make mistakes. Ever.
UN: Or do they?
CP: Everyone makes mistakes … there’s no way anyone could go through life without making mistakes.
CB: So if smart people make mistakes …
UA: a mistake doesn’t mean I’m stupid.
AW: Maybe it only means that I need to learn something new.
Take a deep breath!

IE: Wow. That feels weird.
OE: I like the idea that a mistake doesn’t spell doom.
E: It sure takes some weight off my shoulders.
UN: I can make mistakes and I’m still allowed to be smart.
CP: But maybe it really isn’t about being stupid or being smart.
CB: Maybe it is about being willing to learn.
UA: I never wanted to admit that learning is fun, because needing to learn anything meant I was stupid!
AW: What a HUGE misunderstanding.
Take a deep breath!

IE: Wow. I allow myself to see that this was a huge misunderstanding.
OE: And it could actually be fun to learn new stuff,
UE: now that it no longer means I’m stupid when I don’t know something.
UN: This feels cool.
CP: I now allow myself to enjoy learning new stuff.
CB: I allow myself to step away from “stupid or smart”.
UA: I choose to enjoy this freedom of learning.
AW: And this feels amazingly wonderful.
Take a deep breath!

So, what “new stuff” would you like to learn? Share below, to help peope get into the spirit!

Image source: F. Moebius

Read more about mindsets here: Carol Dweck, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”

PS: Don’t know what this tapping is about? Sign up for the free intro guide on the right hand side of this page.

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