Changing the Narrative

As I came out of the locker room into the pool area, I was surprised by who I saw in the swimming pool. I often have to share the pool where I swim my laps with those taking swimming lessons, but this was the first time I had seen an adult student. And when I say adult, I actually mean senior adult. As I made my way around her, our eyes connected and a big smile spread across her face.

Later that same day I was reading an article by Maria Popova entitled, Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives.  The core of the article is a review of Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset: The Psychology of Success: How We Can Learn to Fulfill our Potential. Popova suggests that the foundational premise of Dweck’s book is that “a ‘fixed mindset’ assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are all static givens which we can’t change in any meaningful way, and success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence, an assessment of how those givens measure up against an equally fixed standard; striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled. A ‘growth mindset’, on the other hand, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.”

Clearly, my senior swimming pool companion functioned out of a ‘growth mindset’ mentality. Her willingness to learn how to swim at this point in her life clearly demonstrates a desire to continue to grow, regardless of the level of challenge.

All of us are scripted by our life experiences. This script often precipitates how we respond in any given situation. The challenge is, can we change the narrative? Somehow, some way the woman in the pool was able to move from ‘I do not know how to swim’ to ‘I want to learn how to swim.’ Those who were waiting for the Messiah had a particular narrative based on their scripting as to how he would interface with the world, particularly those in power. As Jesus came and lived among them, the narrative changed.

Like those early followers of Jesus, when we are open to the movement of the Spirit, we find the courage to move away from the part of our  scripting that holds us back and open ourselves to a new, life-giving narrative.

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