Carol Dweck: Growth Mindset
I just finished reading Mindset: Changing the way you think to fulfil your potential by Carol Dweck.
Virgo has a reputation for being perfectionistic and judgmental. According to Dweck, this is ‘fixed mindset’ thinking in action: believing that we are talented, or not; successful, or not; intelligent, or not; creative, or not; worthy, or not. Etc, ad infinitum.
I experience it most in social situations, I reckon. The fixed mindset makes me doubt my place, my belonging, my social skills. I experience it in my work, anytime I try something new or put something out there in a visible form. It’s yabbering away at me right now about how my upcoming events might turn out to be ‘failures,’ and how that ‘failure’ will be a reflection of my social skills and network.
I experience it, most frighteningly, as a wiping out of positive options and my capacity to ask for what I need. In a challenging moment, I freeze, mentally, immobolised by what seem to be immutable complexities and binary options.
Often I shatter, brittle with that way of thinking. Unsurprisingly, this makes things worse.
A growth mindset, on the other hand, trusts that regardless of what hand we were dealt in life, we can always learn new strategies and take on new ideas, to resource and equip ourselves. Ie. even if I ‘fail,’ I’ll learn something invaluable that will help me be successful another time.
Dweck invites us to give our fixed mindset a name! Haven’t gotten that far yet, but it has various faces: inner critic, judge of others, and to a lesser extent, vanity and self-importance.
I’ve been thinking of my (Virgo) fixed mindset having a genetic quality. In some areas I am growth-minded, I have a deep love of learning and a strong belief that I can improve. But in other areas, I feel I inherited a fixed mindset approach, and I can witness it coming down the line to me, a multi-generational coping strategy that no longer serves.
Perhaps even two kinds of fixed mindset: one concerned with errors and intellectual failure, from my father; and another concerned with lack of confidence and social endangerment, from my mother.
I would also argue that the fixed mindset is patriarchal, white male culture in action. The worldwide repression of women and any non-cisnormative folk, the Stolen Generation, residential schools, fat phobia, and the wide-reaching arms of colonisation could only happen in a context where some humans were deemed superior and others inferior. A fixed perspective hacking the world into binary pieces.
We all have a fixed mindset at times. We’ve all been swimming for lifetimes in this patriarchal ocean of right and wrong; of valuable and not valuable. We can’t help but have absorbed some of it.
The Sun is in Pisces all this month, and the Piscean vision is that we can grow more positive, generous, life-giving neural pathways! But under this Virgo Full Moon, perhaps what’s being illuminated are the places where we are stuck in those old, brittle ways of thinking.
I highly recommend Carol Dweck’s book! If you’re short on time, just read the final chapter, it’s a great practical summary and roadmap…
(Lilith, carving from the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris)
Lilith: Archetype of the Wild Feminine
I’ve been deeply immersed in the archetype of Lilith, lately, as I settle in to craft a bunch of astrological reports for the School of Shamanic Womancraft. I look at four different positions of Lilith and do my best to capture an impression how this visionary wild, sovereign energy may show up in one’s life.
Lilith is an expression of the dark feminine, the dark goddesses, also known as Kali-Lalita, Persephone, Black Madonna, Black Dakini, Bloedeuwedd, Inanna, Sedna, the thirteenth fairy…
Lilith was handmaiden to Inanna, and in a later myth, was the first wife of Adam. But she refused to lie/be beneath him, refused to participate in unequal power dynamics within the relationship and so she left, in a self-imposed exile. She has been vilified by the patriarchy ever since.
Lilith is fierce. She illuminates our raging disillusionment, and how we do our best to wall ourselves off and numb ourselves the fuck out.
She holds up a mirror to our coping mechanisms and attachments, in order that we might release that which no longer serves, and grow into the next evolution of our native, authentic selves, regardless of whether they are ‘acceptable ‘ to others or not. And not for the purposes of self-gain, but for social and collective wholeness.
(Vali Myers as Lilith, via Lorra)
What’s been fascinating, doing these reports while reading Dweck’s book, is perceiving Lilith as a direct call to a growth mindset! She wants to cut through the bullshit layers!
We come into this world with a vision, an inherent sovereignty, a native way of being and doing. But early on we encounter humans and their stories that, over time, generation after generation, have constricted their capacity and ability to love. We are wounded, disillusioned, pained to be so unmet in our expansive vision, unaffirmed in the things we know to be true.
In response to this pain, we exile and isolate ourselves in unconscious ways, in the face of seemingly intractable complexities. We cut ourselves off from problematic or unacceptable aspects of our desire and life force. Hello, fixed mindset! Thankyou for keeping us safe…
But our vision never leaves us.
Our pain never stops illuminating our longing.
We are invited, over and over again, to restore our original vision, by becoming conscious of it. To know our full sovereignty – our capacity to feel, to choose, to love – and to embody it by letting go of the restrictions and beliefs that no longer serve.
In acting on our reclaimed vision, we sing up a new identity, a new modus operandi, a new perspective that literally rewires our brain and ‘re-stories’ our lives, so that we can live out the Wild Feminine Principle from a place of deep alignment with Life, and our desires can become a fertile channel by with Life can birth HerSelf in fullness!
(To my mind, Angel Phoenix Arsenal is doing an admirable job of living this out, no holds barred!)
This is the growth mindset, and it’s been a delight to witness Lilith pointing the way, sword in hand ready to cut through our delusions! For me, she always points me (in part) back to Virgo’s gifts (Black Moon Lilith in Leo + Virgo).
Just do your work, your daily work of priestessing your life.
Show up, be present, give it your all.
Feel. Feel deeply, you know no other way.
Live in a deep rhythm, get enough sleep.
Attend to the details.
Curate your inner realm with increasing discretion.
Comb out those fixed knots from your Sedna hair.
And, for god’s sake, record what is happening, it’s important! You need to be able to look back and see the patterns.
(Kate Moss as Lilith, by Juergen Teller for Vogue Italia March 1996)
In a deep bow to Lilith, here is a playlist that attempts to communicate her journey from disillusionment to exile to restoration… (and round and round through these states, cos life isn’t linear…)
I think of her as singing these songs to me, asking/demanding to be included, to belong, within me.
I hope it resonates for you…
(Absolutely no apologies for the f-bombs, of course!)
→ PLAYLIST ←
! TURN IT UP LOUD !
Holly Whitaker: Quit Like A Woman
On the Full Moon Eve, I picked up Holly Whitaker’s book, Quit Like a Woman: The radical choice to not drink in a culture obsessed with alcohol. I needed a story that would give me the shove I needed to get out of a ruminative, negative familiar fixed mindset I had fallen into, and I knew she had one.
Apt for a Virgo Full Moon which will always ask us questions about our health and daily practices…
But I wasn’t expecting her to connect the dots for me between sobriety and feminism. That’s it in the patriarchy’s interests for us to numb ourselves. That there’s HUGE money being made off this self-exile, and so many deaths, more than any other form of substance abuse. And even that AA is a patriarchal approach to recovery (haven’t read that chapter yet, but the idea makes sense to me…)
Lightbulb moments! Full Moon illumination!
Whitaker quotes Jean Swallow: “What we must recognise is that substance abuse is part of the patriarchy; that it is not a way out, or even a resting place. It is a lie. It is every bit a lie as sexism, capitalism, classism, racism, and homophobia…There is a major difference though. Sexism, racism, and the rest are done to us; we do the substance abuse to ourselves. And we can stop.”
Whitaker’s main point is that alcohol is ethanol. “In other words, we drink – for fun – the same thing we use to make rocket fuel, house paint, antiseptics, solvents perfumes, and deodorants, and to denature (ie. take away the natural properties of, or kill) living organisms. Which might make sense on some level if we weren’t a generation of green-minded, organic, health-conscious, truth-seeking individuals. But we are.”
We wouldn’t chug petrol from the pump, but we will from a wine bottle… Hmmm, something’s not adding up.
I bemusedly feel a Full Moon in Virgo prayer coming, one I never intended:
a commitment to sobriety.
Another highly recommended read… Holly will set you on fire!
Holly as Lilith
Holly’s story is a powerful expression of the archetype of Lilith. Can you hear an echo of your own experience…?
“I had learned at a very young age that I wasn’t okay. By age five, I knew that my emotions were all wrong – I had temper tantrums, had to be held down during teeth brushings, and my parents often reminded me that I was just like the ‘little girl who had a little curl’: when I was good I was very, very good, and when I was bad, I was horrid. By the time I was eleven, I had cellulite on my stomach and had accumulated such nicknames as ‘Big Butt’ and ‘Cottage Cheese Stomach’ (BB and CC for short). I was too energetic for most people, especially my family and teachers, and I was often tempered, reprimanded, and punished. I had a reputation for being a slut by the time I was sixteen; in college I picked up the nickname ‘Holly Drama’; and in my early career I was often told I was too aggressive, emotional, and unpredictable, and that I would not advance if I didn’t get these parts of me under control. One performance review literally said ‘unlikeable.’ Most of my romantic relationships ended with a list of flaws inherent to my character that were seen as deal breakers: too much of this, not enough of that, close but no cigar.
“I took people at their word. I took all of it as evidence.
“With every single instance of being told I was not enough, too much, gross, fat, dumb, loud and wrong, I shut a door within myself. This is not acceptable, that is not acceptable, all these things are not acceptable, so you must suppress them. I went around the house that is Holly and I closed off all the doors to the places in me that were wrong. Soon enough there were so many closed doors, so many places I couldn’t go or let other people see, that there was nowhere to live. So I left. I went somewhere else. The home that was me was no longer habitable.
“I didn’t have a God-shaped hole, I just had a hole, and it was the size of everything I’d ever been told not to be. It was a hole with manicured nails and flat-ironed hair that wore good jeans, and it was a hole that I filled with as much food, booze, drugs, cigarettes, work, shopping, and men as I could, and constantly. By the time I fell to my knees, I couldn’t meet my own gaze in a mirror because: holes.”
That is not my story, but the resonance of having to squish oneself into some impossible shape in order to be acceptable, is so strong it brings tears to my eyes.
Here is Lilith, full of feeling and drive, full of sexual curiosity and dynamism, and she’s attacked as a child, before she has any kind of handle on who she is and what she wants and needs.
Freakin unfair, really…
Of course she attempts to propel herself into oblivion. Of course she attempts to protect herself from all the painful voices, in whatever ways make sense. And yet, she can’t live with herself out there on the margins, that’s not where she’s supposed to be.
She supposed to be rattling the cage of the status quo, helping people WAKE THE FUCK UP!
I feel in the womb this month – fitting for Sun in Pisces. Gestating, something building. Getting sick of myself, outgrowing certain ways of being, waking UP once again… No external evidence of change yet, but feeling it coming.
What am I still avoiding? And how is it the key to what I am meant to do with this one precious life?
Signing off with a few Virgo Full Moon challenges:
→ stop drinking alcohol (join me!)
→ delete instagram off your phone for a month (improve your mental health, right there!)
→ and give your most shameful self the chance to share her vision and why the world NEEDS you to live from this vulnerable place, and help others do the same…
Rousing Full Moon love to you, Grace!