Thursday, March 15, 2007

Self Regulation & Good Constraints

This post is a followup to the earlier post on Fixed vs. Growth Mindset (click here in case you missed it).

************* The Next Step to a Growth Mindset *****************

Just understanding what it means to have a Growth Mindset will do you no good if you don't actually stretch outside your comfort zone to the point of encountering obstacles (or "learning experiences"). Of course, stretching outside your comfort zone is, by definition, not comfortable but this article will give you some ideas that might help.

Clearly Toastmasters is a big part of extending our comfort zone for most of us and I have found some articles that might help you overcome some things that might have been holding you back.

Senia Maymim, editor of Positive Psychology News Daily (, has written a series of articles that will help you build your "Mental Muscle", develop positive habits and improve your life.

This article by Senia Maymim (part 1 in the series) talks about self-regulation ...

Self-regulation is your personality process to exert control over your thoughts, feelings, and actions. .... if you do ANYTHING that requires self-regulation, then that makes it EASIER for you to have self-regulation in EVERYTHING.

This is very true ... as long as you don't get hit with the "Whiplash effect". For example, if you restrain yourself from eating a piece of candy offered by your co-worker you will feel good about yourself. This, as Senia points out, will reinforce your good feelings about yourself.

The "Whiplash effect" comes in when you don't eat the candy.... and you don't eat anything else...(thinking you are "being good")... until you get home and then you "treat yourself " to a whole bag of chips or a tub of ice cream! It is important, especially with food, to substitute healthy habits for poor ones while, at the same time, you build your personal self-regulation power! In our candy example, this means eating a salad and perhaps a snack of celery so that you would not be as hungry when you got home (and less likely to make a bad choice).

This article by Senia is part 2 in the series and it talks about using "Good Constraints" to improve your life. The article talks about making the right decisions and not constantly re-visiting them every time the situation comes up. This improves your focus while freeing up mental energy that can be better applied to other things.

Again, returning to our candy example... if you had made the "Good Constraint" decision that you NEVER eat candy, then you would be less likely to "reward yourself" later in the day!

I hope these two articles about Self Regulation and Good Constraints will help you think of ways to stretch and Grow your Mindset and create a new (much larger) comfort zone !

Let us know how you applied it to Toastmasters in the comments section !

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