Being mindful of your mind

November 5, 2021 Simona Trakiyska

Image of two heads showing fixed and growth mindsets


Key takeaways:

  • We can have different mindsets – the cognitive framework manifests our motivations and guides behavior.  
  • Our mindsets are driven by motivational triggers that inform life choices.
  • Providence behavioral health expert Joshua Cutler shares his thoughts on how our mindsets can help us be more effective.

Achieving self-awareness is a gift that helps determine how we show up. Understanding how our subconscious and conscious thoughts, which are part of our ordinary mental functioning, impact our feelings and trigger our behavior is critical to becoming more self-aware.

When we consider why we do what we do or why we act the way we do it’s because we are influenced by our motivations, which prompt us to be in a particular mindset. Johnmarshall Reeve, an educational and motivational psychologist, explains that if we understand our motivations better, we’d gain valuable insights on what gives our “behavior its energy, direction and endurance.” Understanding your mindset can help you to better navigate the arising complexities when you make decisions or aim to reach a goal. Reeves states that “once adopted, a mindset functions as a cognitive motivational system that produces important downstream consequences.”*

In our previous conversation with experienced Providence behavioral health specialist Joshua Cutler, LICSW “Understanding the interplay between mindsets, feelings and behaviors,he explains that humans can generate a good understanding of how interconnected things are and how different mindsets guide our ability to process information, make decisions and think. In the previous episode he talked about the fixed and growth mindsets and described how we can often be so fixated on our points of view that we miss out on expanding our perspectives and capabilities. On the other hand, if we adopt the growth mindset we can evolve to do the deep introspection required for personal evolution.

While difficult to do, understanding your mindset can help you predict and prepare for outcomes related to your personal goals and assess some of your personal reasons behind your failures and successes.

In this podcast, Cutler expands beyond the fixed and growth mindsets to address deliberative and implemental and promotion and prevention mindsets, all of which are largely driven by the work of Johnmarshall Reeve.

Listen now

You can listen to the full conversation directly below or scroll down to learn more about the different types of mindsets.

From our conversation with Joshua we learn that if we better understand our personal mindsets, that can be very useful by guiding us to make adjustments in our decision-making process. 

“Being mindful of your mind matters," reminds Joshua.  When you’re more mindful, you’re able to maintain the momentum toward your goals with clarity and awareness.

Deliberative and implemental mindsets

  • Deliberative: We can often ponder over what to do, like what type of food to cook or what type of activity to do. These short-term deliberations appear within us daily. However, if we were to deliberate long-term goals, like what kind of diet to start or what kind of exercise program to sign up for, the deliberation requires more time, energy and focus, weighing the pros and cons of options. Before any commitment, deliberation and open-mindedness can be useful tools to help you set yourself up for success.
  • Implemental: We have decided on a specific pursuit, and this is when we become more closed-minded and focused. To stay in the implemental mindset connected to a particular goal is important, as a reversion back into the deliberative mindset mode can steer us off track from effectively realizing our goal.

Promotion and prevention mindsets

  • Promotion: We are driven by inspiration and when we are in the self-improvement mode, we most often reach new heights, advances and gains – there is deep emotional satisfaction. However, here it’s important to acknowledge that with this mindset failures are not preserved well that there can be emotional disturbance. A good way to think about goals and various other pursuits is that every lesson has a reason.  
  • Prevention: We are cautionary creatures, and our internal security system is always on and sometimes protecting the successes already achieved, not prompting us to be risk averse to change. When in this mindset, we must think “what are we truly protecting?” Is it our status, home, embedded beliefs? Diving a bit deeper and figuring out what it is that we are truly trying to prevent from happening is the work that goes on with this mindset.

Considerations for the different mindsets

  • Awareness: Aim to be aware of your emotional strains, pain, sorrow, will and hopes. And do it from a place of compassion, not criticism or judgment when looking at your personal, professional or social life. Alteration or evolution does not occur in the presence of comfort and sometimes taking a step back to assess where you are will allow you to have a deep reflection and guide you to adopt the mindset that can serve you best.
  • Walk lightly: Knowing that one of the greatest obstacles humans encounter is constantly seeking to be in control, it’s important to remember that we are not. Knowing your mindset, investing in constant evolution, having strength and commitment does not always guarantee quick success or results. Grab the most from each experience and know that every challenge carries its gifts.
  • Perseverance: Knowing that resilience can be developed, don’t be afraid to overextend your capabilities, embrace failures as learnings and stay open to possibilities. Reaching a goal is not easy but being persistent over time and believing that you possess a phoenix-like vitality enables you to rise from any difficulty and achieve even more then you expected.

The journey to self-discovery is an animated and non-linear voyage – powerful, enriching and yet also brutal. Sometimes, transformational things happen to us and we don’t have any say in it, let alone control over it. Our minds play a critical role in overcoming and achieving. And achieving some semblance of control. Yes, sometimes we are in a place where stillness becomes real, and we feel stuck overanalyzing and procrastinating – our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being matters, but know that it’s in those moments that we can often begin to see more clearly.  

Let go. Shift. Grow.

* Source: Johnmarshall Reeve. Understanding Motivation and Emotion, 7th Edition (p. 203). Wiley. Kindle Edition.


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Our behavioral health experts offer virtual and in-person consultations to bring you convenient, confidential mental healthcare options. With Providence Express Care Virtual, you can access a full range of healthcare services. If you need to find a doctor, you can use our provider directory to find one near you.

Learn more about mental health services at Providence:

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Related resources

Providence social justice committee addresses systemic racism

Caring for your mental health during COVID-19

Understanding the interplay between mindsets, feelings and behaviors

Processing and healing from grief


This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional’s instructions.

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