Being insecure isn’t a crime. But left unchecked, it can certainly wreak havoc, especially if you tear other people down because of it. In those cases, it becomes very destructive — to others of course, but also to yourself.
Because you could be taking that energy to build yourself up and improve. But you’re not. You’re focused on being the best around, not being the best you could possibly be.
Fixed and Growth Mindsets
I‘ve talked in other posts about the difference between fixed and growth mindsets, and I go into more depth on it in my book Dealing with Difficult Metamours (a troubleshooting guide for polyamorous relationships, with a reader’s guide in it that polycules and webs can use to work through the book), but here’s a quick summary from an earlier blog post:
…with fixed mindset. I viewed ability as a finite resource, and because of that, I was more focused on demonstrating my competence than actually developing it further.
A growth mindset, however, views ability as malleable and talent as able to be developed and improved. A person with this outlook also tends to attribute their success to work that they’ve done rather than natural ability.
According to Dweck’s work, if you were to ask children with these mindsets how they got a high grade on an assignment, they’d have markedly different answers:
Fixed mindset: “I’m smart.” “I’m good at this kind of stuff.”
Growth mindset: “I worked very hard.” “I studied a lot.”
Research has consistently shown that a growth mindset is the far more advantageous of the two. Students that feel like they can improve their abilities and focus on doing so go further and have an easier time adapting to adult responsibilities and the workforce.
Fixed Mindset Can Easily Lead to Tearing Others Down
But it doesn’t just stop there. Because people with fixed mindset are so focused on looking good — and especially looking better than others — that it’s an easier goal for them to meet by tearing other people down than by working on improving themselves.
Incidentally, people with a fixed mindset tend to be zero sum thinkers for that reason. When other people get something, they view it as a loss to them, instead of being happy for others.
And then they take it even further. They tend to tear down the people around them so that they can look impressive in comparison.
They’re willing to clear-cut the entire forest if it means they can be the tallest tree.