A Set Mind or a Mindset?


  • Author Bruce Wilson
  • Published June 24, 2022
  • Word count 513

A Set Mind or a Mindset?

Bruce Wilson, PhD

“When you think you can or you think you can’t you’re right.”

Henry Ford

The Set Mind

When we suggest the idea of a set mind, what does that mean? It means someone who prefers to accept the status-quo. There is a complacency with one’s beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, and actions. What are the potential pitfalls of a set mind? How can complacency lead to a self-limiting lifestyle?

The expression “It is what it is” illustrates the problematic style of the set mind. This expression does not foresee an alternative to the current situation. In fact, the person exhibiting a set mind has already acquiesced to the situation they face. Over time, acquiescence leads to “don’t rock the boat” and even worse “why bother?”, which reinforces procrastination and settling for less than what may be possible. One’s motivation decreases due to this limited perspective of alternatives. The set mind evolves into an increasingly unadaptable and intolerant attitude, which reinforces the status-quo and resists change. All of these factors equate to a loss of one’s individual potential to move forward and not stagnate.

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Wayne Dyer


Similar to a set mind, a mindset is fixed but with the potential to change based on one’s experiences. Without the limiting factors of a set mind, a mindset can be adaptable and labile, which permits new perspectives and the ability to change. One’s beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, and actions are readily altered to manage situations as needed. Having this ability to shift one’s mindset as required builds confidence through embracing the unknown rather than avoiding it. The fear of change is conquered through facing one’s fear, which expands rather than limits one’s experiences. Exploring new things and succeeding builds one’s capacity to face future problems with more personal agency. Pursuing more solutions than problems is one approach that promotes a positive mindset to how we deal with new challenges. Adopting a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset creates more opportunities for learning from all experiences, whether successful or not.

“I never lose, I either win or learn.” – Nelson Mandela

Improving Your Mindset

Look to thrive and not just survive. Realize that you already possess all you need to be successful. Remember that your thinking is the main driver to your outcomes, just like Henry Ford. View all your possibilities not just your limitations. Strive to be a smarter, stronger, worker, and learner. Neuroplasticity has revealed that brain messages can be reprogrammed. Most of our old messages are brain tapes, or outdated memories, that no longer apply to the present. We are rehashing out of date messages that continue to contaminate our ability to be in the present. One possible solution to this is to discard the outdated set mind messages and upgrade to our new mindset possibilities. Then we can exponentially begin to improve our capacity to manage new and challenging experiences.


Dr. Bruce Wilson is a psychologist with 25 years of experience. He enjoys sharing his ramblings with friends and colleagues. He is currently in private practice at Mind Health Care in Geelong, Australia. This article is solely his work.

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