Confidence in our ability to learn to satisfy our needs.

William Hazlitt

The 2nd key to learning.

What is key in learning? This is the second of a number of keys that are meant to bring understanding, about what learning is, and how leaning can be improved by understanding the message of those keys. This key is about feeling confident and how this affects learning. This key is about the necessity for a particular kind of confidence, which when you have it, makes learning not only more likely but more likely to be a joy. This is confidence in our ability to learn, and is essential in enabling us to learn at all. This this the confidence to improve ourselves our lot in life and that of the rest of humanity. This key is about how to get that confidence and how to use it in learning. 

"Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings." Samuel Johnson

What is confidence?

Confidence, as concerns us here, is defined in Webster's dictionary as follows:

  1. a: a feeling or consciousness of one's powers or of reliance on one's circumstances, she had perfect confidence in her ability to succeed, she met the risk with brash confidence b: faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way, to have confidence in a leader.

  2. The quality or state of being certain,  certitude, they had every confidence of success.

Competence and confidence.

Confidence, as concerns us here then, is then our belief in our own abilities or more precisely our competence. Confidence is that which enables people to believe they will succeed at whatever they are attempting. If we don't have confidence that we will succeed in what we are attempting, we are at the mercy of chance. Chance however, is only good at motivating, if it somehow provides an indication of better than chance, as in a winning streak in gambling. When this happens we often develop unwarranted confidence. Confidence allows the anticipation of a successful outcome, regardless of whether it is possible or not.

If you are competent at something this should give you confidence. If, on the other hand, you are incompetent at something this should douse your confidence. However, although confidence and competence usually go together, it is possible for them to get out of sink, producing competence without confidence or confidence without competence. Competence without confidence is very unfortunate those who suffer from it. It is probably caused by people getting too many negative messages about themselves. It can be helped of course by drawing attention to how much improvement is being made by the person. Confidence without competence is usually created by people being flooded with positive messages about how good or clever they are. Such people can be very dangerous to society, by making decisions where they have no competence. But this problem does not have an easy strait forward solution, because, as Carol Dweck says below, confidence has become a cure all for the ills of society. Thus we tend to give people too much praise, or as we shall see, the wrong kind of praise. 

How does confidence enable us to learn?

If we try to do something, or learn something and succeed, it normally gives us confidence that we can do other things or learn other things that are similar. This success also brings with it various intrinsic rewards particularly in the form of feelings of accomplishment. A type of confidence comes out of these feelings of accomplishment and competence. Confidence derives from competence, but is itself essential to intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation in turn leads to action and learning, which thus leads to increased competence and increased intrinsic motivation. Thus confidence leads to learning which begets more learning.

A cure all or not a cure all. Why ordinary confidence can fail.

All this sounds great as though 'confidence' should indeed be a cure for all the ills of learning. For a normal understanding of the word 'confidence' this is alas not the case. In her book "Self-theories" Carol Dweck explains why:

"One of the reasons we have become so lavish, and perhaps indiscriminate, with our praise of students is that as a society we have come to believe that this will raise students' confidence. And confidence we believe is the panacea. We believe that if students have confidence in their abilities all else will follow. They will feel undaunted by difficult tasks, never doubting themselves when they meet obstacles, and they will persist effectively. Confidence is a good thing to have. But our research has shown us, somewhat unexpectedly, that the confidence students bring to a situation often doesn't help them when they meet with difficulties."

What is usually understood to be confidence does not help us when we encounter obstacles or fail. Obstacles tend to undo our confidence when are unable to overcome them. Failure not only undoes our confidence in this one area but also seems to make us doubt we are competent in other areas causing us to lose faith in our competence and confidence generally. This kind of confidence is based on continuing success. It works fine while we continue to be successful but it falls down the moment we meet obstacles, make mistakes or fail.

In her book "Self-theories" Carol Dweck proposes that people tend to be divided roughly into two groups, people who believe that the world and themselves can be changed and people who believe that the world and themselves tend to be fixed by birth and social resistance. 

Fixed. People who believe that traits and abilities are fixed tend to say "Do not try to change the world. You will meet too much resistance from people who have a stake in keeping the world the same." They say, "Do not bother to try and change yourself. Your abilities, your talents, your capacities, your intelligence are inborn. These things are fixed at birth or conception by your genetic makeup.

Growth. People who believe that traits and abilities are growable or improvable tend to say "Everything is in flux and changing and we have have the opportunity to help make sure those changes are an improvement. While they do not deny that trying to improve things will be met with resistance they still feel it is possible and worthwhile. They also say, "you can change yourself and you do so every time you learn something. Your abilities, your talents, your capacities, your intelligence are are not inborn. These things are changed by society, by your parents, by your teachers but mostly by yourself through your efforts, your persistence, your strategies, and your hard work. 

So Carol Dweck suggests that we call these two types of people entity theorists and incremental theorists. Entity theorists hold that things are fixed and unchanging. Incremental theorists hold that things change and can be changed though effort and perseverance and hard work. Dweck and her colleagues investigated these two groups in great detail and with particular interest in how each group was affected by confidence as people usually understand it. In her book "Self-theories" Carol Dweck tells us the following:

"When we looked at at students making the transition to junior high-school..., we saw that entity theorists with high confidence in their intelligence showed, as a group, a clear drop in their academic performance. What's more they were just as likely as the entity theorists with low confidence to say that they would question their intelligence (they would think, "Maybe I'm not smart") if they performed poorly in school.

I think the key to understanding this puzzling phenomenon is this: Within an entity-theory framework, no matter what your confidence is, failure and difficulty still imply low intelligence. The whole framework with its emphasis on measurement and judgment gives a meaning to negative outcomes (and to effort) that is undermining to students - even if they entered the situation feeling fine about their intelligence."

"The case of the incremental theorists is just as interesting. Here we also find that confidence does not make much difference. Incremental students who have low confidence in their intelligence simply do not seem hampered by obstacles, and sometimes seem the most challenge-seeking and persevering group."

"One reason this group is so hardy is that when you are pursuing learning goals confidence in your existing ability is not that critical. After all, you are looking to increase your ability, not to demonstrate that you already have it. A modest opinion of your existing skills may even spur more desire to increase them.

These findings - the fragility of the confident entity theorists and the hardiness of the low-confidence incremental theorists - again support the idea that the two frameworks give different meanings to what happens to students. In the measurement-oriented framework of the entity theory, failure seems to condemn intelligence, even for many students who previously were quite confident about it. In the learning-oriented framework of the incremental theory, failure is information about how to adjust learning strategies and does not seem to have deeper meaning for the self, even for students who have clear self-doubts going into the situation."

Confidence in traits and abilities. Entity theorists.

For those who see the world and themselves as fixed (the entity theorists) their confidence is entirely dependent on the opinions of others. Their actual competence is only significant in so far as it causes others to inform them that they are competent. As Dweck points out failure and obstacles seem (to these entity theorists) to disprove that they are competent in whatever field or (as she puts it) are intelligent. 

Entity theorists are in the intolerable situation of having their confidence continually undermined and stripped away. Telling them they are intelligent or highly competent not only does not correct this situation, but is usually counter productive. Every assertion that they are brilliant or talented becomes a judgment that they have to (some how) live up to and which they never can all the time. Because they believe that their abilities, intelligence, traits, atributes and personality have been fixed at conception, they see little importance in trying to change themselves as they do not really believe it possible. 

Indeed they start to see effort, hard work and persisence as indicators that they are not smart or talented because if they were smart or talented, they would not need to apply effort, work hard or persist. How they are percieved by others becomes everything and they do all they can to protect the image they present to others. They tend to avoid chalenges because chalenges can produce obstacles and failure which would taint their image. For them trait and ability confidence is not a protecion but is rather the state of their image and what they have to live up to.

Beyond confidence in traits and abilities. Incremental theorists.

For those who see the world and themselves as growing and improving (the incremental theorists) their confidence in their traits and abilities is dependent on their own view of their competence but is unimportant. It is unimportant because they do not feel limited by what they can do now but rather are confident that they can learn whatever they might need to learn.

Incremental theorists are in the enviable situation of being confident they are malleable in every respect and that they are constantly changing. They are confident that they are shaped by their their envionment, by their parents, by their teachers, by their peers and most importantly by their own desire and will to improve themselves. This enables them to see that learning and improvement are only possible through great effort, persistence, and a willingness to try new, different and unusual strategies. 

Although they can be undermined by the same trait and ability praise and criticism as entity theorists they are nevertheless less so. They are protected by the strength of their own confidence in their ability to improve. They also tend to counter such talk by their own self talk in which they express their love of challenge and their feelings that only effort, hard work and persistence make accomplishment worthwhile.

Incremental theorists not only conclude all traits, abilities and atributes as being malleable but are led by this conclusion to have confidence that potential itself must also be malleable. They become confident that, not only is the extent of improvement of their abilities, skills, atributes and traits unknowable, and therefore unlimited, but that their very potential must be unknowable and limetless also. As their skills abilities, traits and atributes change grow and improve through effort etc., so do they percieve their potential growing and changing. What seemed previously imposible becomes possible with each incremental gain in ability, skill, trait or atribute. All this gives them the confidence to rise up after failure and overcome obstacles by means of effort, persistence and experimental strategies.

Two types of confidence.

While confidence, as it is most generally understood, seems seem to be unhelpful for both success and fullfilment this is true for only one particular type of confidence. Carol Dweck and her colleagues have pointed out that the confidence people have in their abilities, their intelligence or their competence is not sufficient in itself and can infact be counter productive. Although Ms. Dweck does not explore the idea of a special form of confidence more fully, she does imply that what is needed, is in fact, a more solid kind of confidence. She implies that what is needed is a confidence, not about competence inborn or being gained with minimal effort and persistence, but rather a confidence that embraces effort and persistence as being the very activities through which competence and abilities can be increased. In her book "Self-theories" Dweck puts it like this:

"The confidence they need is the confidence that they, or anybody for that matter, can learn if they apply their effort and their strategies."

Confidence in what one can become.

Having confidence in what you are is not enough. You must also have confidence that you can become more than what you are. You must feel confident that if you work hard enough, what you know and what you can do will improve and in the end accomplish what what you want while you become anything that you desire.  You must have confidence that if you persist you will eventually find out anything you want to know and be able to do anything you want to do. You must have confidence that through sufficient effort you can change yourself into something better, something stronger, something of worth and in doing so acomplish your hearts desire. You have to believe that if you keep trying different strategies in solving a problem you will eventually solve it. Carol Dweck says:

 "...even if you're not good at something, you can still plunge into something because you are not good at it." You may not have confidence that you can perform the activity well now, but you should have confidence that if you work hard and make the required effort, you will be able to perform the activity well in the future.

Following this idea to its logical conclusion, we must rather have confidence that we can learn to improve our abilities, our knowledge, our intelligence and indeed all our various atributes. We must have confidence that through effort and persistence we can learn new abilities, solve problems, overcome obstacles, desire challenges and be able to rise up after failing. Real competence is not a belief in what can be done now. It is a belief in what can be done in the future.

"Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence." Michael O'brien

Growth confidence.

What we are talking about here is a confidence, not in our abilities, or traits but rather in what our abilities and traits can become in the future. It is a confidence that our abilities, our knowledge, our intelligence, indeed our very personality can be improved through effort, hard work and persistence. It is a confidence in our ability to learn. This is a confidence that any normal person especially one's self, will, through effort, hard work and persistence be able to learn anything. It is a confidence, that if you have fallen behind and do not seem to understand some thing, that all you need to do is to put in more effort, work harder and persist until you do understand.

As previously mentioned it also means a confidence that, as our ability to learn must be unknowable and therefore limetless, so too must potential itself be unknowable and also limetless. Each time we learn and improve our skills, abilities and traits (such as intelligence) we also see further potential in ourselves. In this way we become able to percieve that our own potential (and the potential or others) is changing, changable or malleable. We become confident that our potential and that of others is constantly changing as our abilities, skills, atributes and traits improve and that what seemed initially imposible, gradually and incrementally becomes possible. Not only are we able to guide and improve our abilities, skills, atribute and traits but that we can guide and improve our own potential. We gain the agency to guide and improve ourselves in every way.

We all seem to be born with some of this confidence, but through life experience, it is possible to lose this confidence. If you lose this confidence in your ability to learn and grow it is absolutely essential that you try to regain it. This is a special kind of confidence. Lets call it 'growth confidence'.

Future focused role image.

In a sense this growth confidence is perhaps the most important key, in that without confidence in their ability to change themselves through learning, students, and all people for that matter, are unable to learn or do anything much with their life. What students really need is a positive image of themselves projected into the future. This idea is what the futurists call a 'Future Focused Role Image'. This image of themselves projected into the future is what provides people with this special confidence in themselves. In "Learning for the Future" Harold G Shane and June Grant Shane put it like this:

"An insensitive parent or teacher, for example, may lead a youngster to believe that he is a 'dummy' or 'normal,' a 'problem' or a person of promise, a non reader or a reader. And he often becomes, in a form of self fulfilling prophesy, what he is led to believe he will become. ...learning situations should create for the child as optimistic a concept of himself as reality allows. But we are now coming to recognize that the child's present self image, or self concept is not, by it self, sufficient to account for its motivation and performance. It is the image of its future self - what Benjamin Singer calls the future focused role image - that strongly affects its educational competence."

The way it is with schools at present is that a few children come through the system with a strong future focused role image, and they believe they can learn and do something specific they wish to do. An even smaller number of students come through the system with an even stronger future focused role image, believing they can do anything with their lives. These two groups are essentially growth oriented and will not be held back by failure or obstacles because they have confidence in themselves derived from this future reflection of themselves. However, most students have virtually no future focused role image, and these students cannot see themselves in the future at all. This is the fixed or entity group. They have no confidence in the possibility of having improved abilities or new abilities and they coast through life, usually unable to accomplish very much even when they have shown particular potential in some are.

"With confidence, you can reach truly amazing heights; without confidence, even the simplest accomplishments are beyond your grasp." Jim Loehr

Autonomy of confidence.

There is yet another aspect of 'confidence' that needs to be considered. Having confidence you will be able to do what others want you to do, or become what others want you to become is different to having confidence that you will be able to do what you want to do or become what you want to become. Having confidence you will be able to do what others want you to do is different to having confidence that you will be able to do what you want to do. Having confidence that you will be able to do something, or become something not enough. Having confidence you will be able to do what you cannot yet do, is not enough. You must have confidence that you can do what you want to do, and that you will be able to do what you want to do but are as yet not able to do. You need to have confidence in your own self-determination. You need to feel that the causality of your actions lie within you own conscious self and are detemined by you. Only in this way can you understand yourself as being an active force that can modify the world. This is the type of confidence that truly enables learning. Lets call it autonomous growth confidence.

Autonomous growth confidence and motivation.

There is a great deal of difference between working hard and puting in maximum effort because they are enjoyable and having to work hard or put in maximum effort. This is all about motivation. Simply put people/students who have a growth mindset enjoy working hard and putting in their best effort. People/students who have a fixed mindset (entity theory) can be pushed or driven to work hard and put in their best effort, but without the true confidence that this hard work and effort will enable them to improve, without the belief that, givern sufficient effort they can learn anything, they are unable to learn much. Having to work hard or apply effort, being expected to work hard or put in the effort is simply not very motivating. Being threatened if you do not work hard or apply yourself is also not very motivating. Sure these are extrinsic motivators but extrinsic motivators crowd out intrinsic motivators ensuring the total amount of motivation will diminish. Only confidence and belief in our ability to become better is truly motivating because it is intrinsic comeing from inside ourselves. When you have a growth mindset everything you do, you do with effort and hard work which tends to be enjoyable. This is because this is how those, with a growth mindset, experience learning and improvement or personal growth all of which are enjoyable.  

"Besides pride, loyalty, discipline, heart, and mind, confidence is the key to all the locks." Joe Paterno

"There can be no great courage where there is no confidence or assurance, and half the battle is in the conviction that we can do what we undertake." Orison Swett Marden

Real competence.

Being competent in your abilities and being confident of them, is also not the same thing. People are often over confident where there competence does not match their confidence. Such people are often a danger to themselves and those depending on them to make sound decisions. Such over confidence can also put people in the position of being vulnerable to continually having their beliefs challanged by the intrusion of reality. While it has been proven that a little optimism is good and enables us to overcome the paralysis otherwise caused by risk and fear, it becomes counter productive if taken too far. People can also become quite unconfident despite having real competence in their abilities. While such people can still accomplish great things they ofen do not, because they have no faith in their own competence or their likeyhood of improving their competence. 

It can be safely assumed that competence is most valuable when it is combined with a confidence that is fairly realistic but skewed a little toward optimism. Here is why. We need to see our competence not just as it is now but as it could be in the future. Competence is, and must be, ever changing, and true competence is best combined with a confidence in our ability to improve that competence. The best competence is one where although it may not currently be sufficient, it is combined with a confidence that we will be able to learn enough that in the end that we will acquire that sufficiency of competence.     

Autonomous growth confidence and Maslow's hierarchy.

The need to learn and other needs.

Although learning itself is the first human need, the one where the infant must make sense of the world, there are other needs and all of them provide motivation to learn, and in turn affect learning. Learning and having this special confidence that we can learn is not just about becoming confident that the world makes sense, is predicable and thus can be changed by anyone in the right place, at the right time with the right idea. It is a confidence that all human needs can be satisfied through autonomous effort in learning.

All Maslow's needs must be satisfied, but more importantly, we must learn how to satisfy each of these needs ourselves so that we do not have to rely on others. Even more important we must gain the confidence that we will be able to satisfy these needs in situations, that we as yet, have not had to face. It is not sufficient to have those needs satisfied by others. We must gain the confidence of knowing that we can satisfy those needs ourselves and that we will be able to satisfy them in conditions with which we have no current experience. In other words we must acquire confidence that we will be able to learn how to deal with circumstances that are completely unfamiliar to us.

When we start to look at these other needs we begin to realize we should not try to satisfy any of those needs at the expense of any of the other needs. We need to realize that the best way to satisfy one particular need is in a way that does not conflict with the satisfaction of any of the other needs, and preferably satisfies those other needs as well. If we are to become confident in our ability to learn we need to discover a way, were the satisfaction of one need also satisfies, as far as is possible, all needs.

In addition being confident in our ability to learn about the physical properties of the world is not enough. We must not ignore a small highly important sub set of properties about the likely actions of people. To become confident in our ability to satisfy these many needs we must become confident in our ability to learn social skills. We must become confident that those social skills that we have now, will, though effort, become improved and that thus our ability to service our many needs will improve with time. The satisfaction of each of the levels in Maslow's hierarchy requires social knowledge that we have to be confident of obtaining, if not now at least at some future point, with hard work and persistence.     

Maslow's hierarchy.

Abraham Maslow gave us a set of needs that have stood the test of time. It is essential to form a future focused role model of confidence in satisfying of these needs.

Physiological needs.

Safety needs.

Affiliation, love and relatedness needs.

Esteem needs.

Being or meta needs.

Maslow in his writing seemed to convey the idea that once a particular type of need was satisfied on a regular basis humans etc. one automatically moved on to being motivated by the next level of needs. Now while this was generally accepted, it seems he has missed important qualifications of this idea. He missed out the very important idea that it is not enough to have our needs satisfied, and that, in fact, the only real satisfaction of a need, comes from feeling confident in our own skills and abilities to satisfy those needs ourselves, or that through effort of learning we will be able to to satisfy those needs in the future. If we satisfy our own needs it will help us become confident we can change the world to how we want it to be. If we cannot satisfy our needs we need to become confident that we will though effort be able to do it in the future.

Ordinary confidence is a fragile thing, as Joe Montana has said, "The confidence we need is the confidence that remains when something is too difficult, the confidence that we still have after we have failed." This confidence is not easy to come by if it is lost, which is why so many people never manage to fully ascend Maslow's hierarchy.

Maslow's need levels are the main forces motivating us to learn apart from the need to learn itself. Thus it is obviously very important that we begin to be competent and feel confident in our ability to be able to ulimatly satisfy those needs. More importantly though, we need to feel confident that we can learn whatever it is that will enable us to satisfy those needs in any circumstance that may arise in the future.

This 'autonomous growth confidence' is a subset of our normal understanding of confidence and it has three requirements. First, it requires that each of us believe we can satisfy our own needs. Second, it requires that each of us believe we are competent in satisfying our own needs. Third, it requires that each of us believe that we will be able to satisfy those needs in an unpredictable future through our own efforts. In other words, for each of Maslow's needs we must become confident of our future ability to satisfy it ourselves, through our own ability to change ourselves or learn whatever the future may require. This is very much about how we perceive our own actions and processes and what we believe is possible. 

Let us look again at Maslow's hierarchy:

  1. Developing confidence in satisfying our physiological needs.

  2. The bottom level of Maslow's hierarchy is what he called physiological needs. After learning itself there are a range of needs that are essential to our continued life and ability to reproduce. We need to feel confident that we can satisfy those needs, and that we will be able to satisfy those needs in circumstances that we are yet to experience. We must feel confident in satisfying the needs for warmth, food, water, shelter, sex, etc.

    A strange paradox can be operating when we start to look at how children can begin to learn to become confident in their ability to provide for their own physiological needs. Children of poor parents and children of single parent families, often gain this confidence quickly, because it is an economic or logical necessity. The poor often have to send their children out to work or have them do most of the household work at a very early age, because they can not do enough themselves. This is hard on the children, but as they do the work they can acquire confidence in their ability to provide both, for their own physiological needs and the needs of others. They get continuing validation of their ability to provide for these needs and of their ability to improve in this through their own efforts. Also they gain early confidence in their own ability to affect themselves and the world, to change themselves and the world to be more to their liking.

    Children of rich people, by contrast, if they are to pampered and not allowed to make their own way in the world, often have a great deal of difficulty in feeling they can satisfy these primitive needs. The problem is usually one of the rich parents not trusting their children's ability to provide, while single parents or parents who are sick may have no choice but to trust in their children's abilities.

    This site is not advocating that we should make work for children, but that they should be allowed and encouraged to contribute to the provision of the families physiological needs, if that is what they wish. After all, the idea of limiting the age at which one can work, was established in order to prevent child exploitation by parents and employers, not to stop children that want to work from working. If exploitation can be avoided, then children working can be considered to be a healthy way of gaining the confidence they need in both satisfying and acquiring the ability  to satisfy their physiological needs.


    While early experience in helping out out with the satisfaction of physiological needs can provide confidence in the satisfaction of these needs, this may well be a very fragile confidence, one that can easily be dashed if one is unable to satisfy those needs as as often or as quickly as one might like. What is needed in order to immunize one's confidence in ones eventual ability to satisfy one's physiological needs, from deterioration in the face of obstacles, mistakes and failure, is the same growth mindset or incremental self-theory as is mentioned above.

    A growth mindset enables you to believe, that anything can be achieved if you are willing to put in sufficient time and effort. This can mean, in terms of physiological needs, that we need to acquire confidence in our ability to obtain such things as money, degrees, prestige, all the things that can be exchanged for the physical comforts of food, drink shelter etc. A growth mindset enables you to believe that you can change yourself sufficiently through learning, as to acquire any needed knowledge to accomplish these goals and satisfactions. A growth mindset enables you to believe that mistakes and failures are an essential part of learning, and are not in any way to be a part of how people are judged. People with this growth mindset are all about mastering themselves and mastering their environment. Mistakes and failure are recognized, not as a way to classify traits and ability, but rather as information that can be used to do better than they were able to do before. In her book "Self-theories" Carol Dweck had this to say about children who had an incremental self-theory about themselves:

    "The answer, which surprised us, was that they did not blame anything. They didn't focus on the on reasons for the failures. In fact they didn't seem to consider themselves to be failing. Certainly, they had bumped up against difficulty, but nothing in their words or actions indicated that they thought this was anything more than a problem to be tackled. ...students in the mastery oriented group began issuing instructions to themselves on how they could improve their performance."

    Self help.

    How can children induce a growth mindset in their self so that they can experience a future focused role image of confidence that they will be able to satisfy their physiological needs throughout life? The answer is curiously quite simple. As Dweck stated in the previous paragraph the answer to how to induce this growth mindset is simply for children to give themselves instructions either verbally or in the form of the inner silent speech of thought. Dweck continues and describes some of these sorts of self instruction:

    "Some of these were self-motivating instructions: 'The harder it gets, the harder I need to try,' or 'I should slow down and try to figure this out.' Some of these were more oriented toward the cognitive aspects of the task, such as reminding themselves of what they had learned so far about the problem they were working on.

    ...We will never forget one young man, who, when the difficult problems started, pulled up his chair, rubbed his hands together, smacked his lips, and said, 'I love a challenge.' Or another, who as the difficulty began, told us in a matter of fact voice, 'You know I was hopping this would be informative.' Or another child who asserted cheerfully, 'Mistakes are our friend.'"

    As can seen from this, these children are imposing a growth framework of understanding on their actions and circumstances. In doing this they are probably channeling or imitating their parents. The outcome though is one of our special confidence. This is not just a confidence of being able to satisfy ones own physical needs but a confidence in one's ability to learn how to satisfy those needs, in, as yet, undetermined circumstances. 

    Facilitation of others.

    How can we induce growth mindsets in other children so they can satisfy, so that they can experience future focused role images of confidence that will enable them to satisfy their physiological needs throughout life? 

    Part of inducing a growth mindset is clearly to have one yourself so that children use you as a model to imitate as is indicated above in giving themselves instructions and positive messages of effort and persistence. If you have this mindset you will of course give yourself these kinds of messages and your children will copy you. 

    If you do not have this mindset you can still help to set it up in your children. You can do this by carefully thinking through the kinds of praise and criticism you give to children. The important thing in praising is to avoid praising the child for his ability or intelligence or any other ability or personality trait as these induce a fixed mindset. Instead you should praise effort, hard work, improvement, perseverance and diversity of strategies. The same rules apply to criticism do not criticize the personal attributes or skills of the child. Instead you can criticize their lack of effort, their lack of hard work, their lack of improvement, their lack of diverse strategies and their lack of perseverance. All this leads to children taking on the growth mindset, which gives them the confidence that they will be able to learn how to satisfy their physiological needs in a future that is unpredictable. 

    The final way to facilitate the growth of this confidence is to let go of the feeling that you have to help them do everything. They will never learn how to satisfy their own needs if you do not let them do it. It is all a mater of trusting your children and in their ability to learn how to do things competently.

  3. Developing confidence in satisfying our safety needs.

  4. After learning how to satisfy their physiological needs there are a range of needs that are essential to children's continued boldness. They need to become confident that they can satisfy those needs, and that they will be able to satisfy those needs in circumstances that they are yet to experience. They must not only feel confident in their abilities to satisfy their needs for safety, security, etc. but must also become confident that they can continue to learn how to do so in an uncertain future.

    If poor children can get a head start in gaining confidence about satisfying psychological needs rich children have a kind of head start when it comes to safety and security. The children of rich parents can feel quite confident in taking risks with money, with education, with social connections because they have a safety net. If they fail or fall their parents money and connections cushions the blow. There is no possibility that, if they fail, they will stave or never be able to rise again. They know they will have many chances to succeed and they can screw up, or fail, or even have problems with drugs or police and they will still be ok. Although this could be a growth thing to help children succeed and accomplish great things in life, it is often taken as a kind of privilege, where children see themselves as better than others. Far from using this leg up to achieve greater safety and security, it is often used to coast in life and achieve no real confidence in improving their satisfaction of the need for safety, or any other need. Far from using this net to make themselves safer in various circumstances, many simply stay in the warm coziness of the net. This could, of course, also become a disadvantage if they were to lose all their money or status. In this case they might have little confidence in their ability to learn and cope and feel safe.

    The paradox of safety and security. 

    How then do children learn to make themselves safe and so gain confidence in their ability to continue to make themelves feel safe? Paradoxically, they do it by putting themselves in danger. Any challenge is a danger, but if children have a growth mindset they are willing to take the risk. They are willing to be brave because they are confident in their ability to learn whatever they might need. The child moving away from his mother and then running back to her is making himself feel safe. He feels safe with his mother, yet he moves away from her. It is only in this way will he come to feel safe when he is away from his mother. 

    The fixed mindset child sees the world as very unsafe. He is judged at every turn both good and bad, and becomes afraid of not being able to produce those good abilities and qualities on demand. People, and certainly children tend to judge others the same way they judge themselves. In her book "Mindset" Carol Dweck makes it quite clear how they judge others:

    "...this study was the first to show that when entity and incremental theorists saw someone behaving badly, they differed in how likely they were to attach a global negative label. Does this mean that entity theorists tend to be more mean-spirited more misanthropic, more likely to dwell on peoples flaws? ...studies showed that this was not the case: Entity theorists are also quicker than incremental theorists to attach global positive labels."

    Entity theorists begin to avoid situations that could expose the possibility that they are bad or stupid, for to be so is to be unsafe and open to attack. This fear keeps them from trying, from taking risks and from rising to meet challenges. On the other hand, growth oriented children do not attach global labels easily (positive or negative) to themselves or others. Thus they tend to have confidence that both themselves or others can change themselves in order to deal with any situation that might eventuate. For those with an incremental self theory it is just a matter of learning how to do it, and for them that just means putting in the necessary effort. 

    The home, of course, should not be an unsafe place but this should not prevent us from allowing children to take risks. It is all a matter of parents being vigilant in knowing when children are taking risks and being there as backup in case of failure. On the other hand we all know school often is unsafe. There is always a primitive pecking order in schools and bullies are often at the top. The important thing to note here is that the parents and the teachers cannot make the children safe, or if they do, they will have prevented an important learning experience. Parents and teachers can make suggestions, offer to teach skills, but if the child is to feel safe he must make himself safe. More than this, he/she needs to feel that in situations where he/she is unsafe that he/she has the confidence that he or she can, through learning and his or her own efforts, eventually make him/herself safe. They have to come to feel confident that whatever confronts them in the way of danger and lack of security they will be able through learning to make themselves safe, by means of effort, hard work, and persistence.

    Letting go, the security of the child being able to do  it him/herself.

    In a way allowing a child to gain confidence in his ability to feel safe, derives from parents letting go gradually, as the child's confidence builds. John Holt in his book "How Children Learn" provides a beautiful example of teaching a very young child to swim a skill that obviously makes us feel safe. As John Holt explains it, it is mostly a matter of being sensitive to the baby's fear, and reacting instantly to keep him safe, yet letting go moments later when the baby has ceased to be afraid. Holt has this to say:

    "But the principle is always true. If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him. If, however, we are careful not to push a child beyond the limits of his courage, he is almost sure to get braver."

    For the parent or facilitator it is a very tricky business allowing and trusting in a child's ability to learn to make him/herself safe. As Holt explains teaching swimming is is a process of supporting when the child feels afraid and yet letting him go off and perhaps get hurt when he feels brave. This same principle applies to all chalanges and all risks. Everything a child needs to learn in order to feel safe comes from the child's confidence that he/she can do it without help. 

    Misguided praise and entity theories.

    Some parents think they can give their children confidence in their ability to make themselves safe, by telling them they are brave or clever, or praising any manner of fixed attributes that they the child could use to make himself safe. But this kind of praise, as anyone should be aware at this point, can make the child feel less safe, especially if he or she cannot see any evidence of those attributes. All this kind of praise does, is frame the overcoming of any danger in terms of fixed abilities and intelligence. This this kind of praise leaves the child feeling very insecure and unsafe whenever there are obstacles.

    A fixed mindset tends to frame 'the use of effort' as showing that you are not clever or have little innate ability. It leaves the child feeling unsafe and insecure because, if his/her abilities or intelligence seem to faill or falter in the face of theat, there seems to be no other option. A child with a growth minset, however, remains confident in his/her ability to learn and be ready to deal with danger when it occurs. Such children attempt difficult things and take risks venturing into unsafe areas where they could be shown to have acted stupidly or lack ability. Children with a fixed mindset on the other hand can find themselves avoiding real challenges and preferring to do only things that they are already known to be good at. Carol Dweck explains that those with a fixed mindset tend to think:

    "Effort is for those who don't have ability. ...'If you have to work at something, you must not be good at it.' ...'Things come easily to people who are true geniuses.'"

    For fixed mindset children there is no venturing forth from mother in order to make themselves safe. Instead they end up essentially staying with mother where it is already known to be safe. Dweck continues to deconstrucrt this fixed mindset:

    "Why is effort so terrifying?

    There are two reasons. One is that in a fixed mindset, great geniuses are not supposed to need it. So just needing it casts a shadow on your ability.

    The second is robs you of all your excuses. Without effort, you can always say, 'I could have been [fill in the blank].' but once you try, you can't say that any more. Someone once said to me , 'I could have been Yo-Yo Ma.' If she had really tried for it, she wouldn't have been able to say that."

    A fixed mindset also provides an unhealthy kind of safety and security. There are in fact two kinds of safety. There is the safety of being wrapped in a cocoon of security provided by others. A cocoon that buffers you from all the dangers of the world. Part of that is a constant self. If you are the same person you were yesterday, if you have not grown or changed then that feels safe. People know what kind of person you are, how you will act in various situations and what you are likely to do in various situations. They know what to expect of you. In turn you tend to live up to their expectations of you. If you change your mind, if you act differently to anything you have done before, if as is normal, you gradually become a different person. If you become a different person you are risking this cocoon of safety. The unchanging interaction between you and others simply evaporates and you must learn to interact with people in new ways. You are taking a risk by simply changing anything about yourself and what you do. It is a sad thing that poiticians are often viewed through a fixed midset lens in that if they change their mind it usually atributed to their being wishy washy rather than that they have learned something.

    With an entity theory although you may remain safe your need for safety is never satisfied because you never learn how to satisfy it yourself. Furthermore, you definitely never gain the kind of confidence, where you feel you can learn to make yourself safe in any dangerous situation, given sufficient effort and time.

    When you are stuck in these ways, you are not giving yourself confidence that you can make yourself safe in varying circumstances in the future, you are not even making yourself confident that you can make yourself safe now. You are not taking risks, and risks are essential in learning how to make yourself safe. If somebody else makes you safe then your are totally at their mercy for your safety and this is no way to satisfy you need for safety, or have confidence you can make yourself safe. Certainly, it allows no way you can build up confidence that you can make yourself safe in varying circumstances you are yet to experience. You can only build up this confidence by taking small sensible risks and gradually moving to greater risks as your confidence and ability grows. All this is done by embracing learning how to do, and what to do, when needed, with effort and hard work, persistence and diverse strategies.

     Effort and strategies praise and entity theories.

    A person with a growth mindset simply does not see things this way. A person with a growth mindset wants to be safe in any situation. A person with a growth mindset wants to go out in the world face dangers and overcome them by learning how to do it. For a person with a growth mindset taking a risk trying to meet a challenge is just a part of learning and anything can be learned given sufficient time and effort. 

    Self help.

    It is important to know how to induce a growth mindset in one's self so we can also experience a future focused role image of confidence for safety. We need to have confidence that we will be able to satisfy our safety needs throughout our life. 

    How to do this is essentially the same as for physiological needs. To induce a growth mindset you again give yourself instructions either verbally or in the form of the inner silent speech of thought. Of course it is also essential to actually put in effort, work hard and persist until you have made yourself safe.

    However, the difference here is the importance of taking risks, in building this confidence gradually, growing it in lockstep with your actual competence. The moment you feel yourself safe or secure in a particular situation you need to move on to making yourself safe in some other situation. This is not as difficult as common sense might predict it to be. Facing challenges and overcoming them is very pleasurable, so a few instances of this can induce a large amount of intrinsic motivation.

    There is a problem however, in that we can choose the wrong kind of risks to take. Any gambler knows that it is easy to choose risks that are concerned with high returns for little investment and this can mean anything from money to the amount of effort invested. Risk assessment has to be realistic. The risks we need to take to make ourselves safe and secure must also be ones that we can realistically achieve. Further they should also be ones that do not conflict with the satisfaction of other needs. 

    Facilitation of others.

    How to induce growth mindsets in children so they can become confident of  their ability to learn how to satisfy their safety needs. Parents and teachers are in the perfect position to act as role models. It's all about how parents and teachers seem to achieve safety and security in the world. If you as a parent or teacher are not satisfying your own safety and security needs adequately, this will pose a problem. It may well be that you have to fix this problem first. The way to develop your own confidence in learning how to make yourself safe and secure, is as mentioned above, a matter of giving yourself instructions and positive effort messages. If you do this your children or students will copy this behavior.

    Another way to help facilitate this confidence in children, is to provide a better kind of praise and criticism. By praising and criticizing the strategies and efforts of children rather than praising and criticizing their persons, we can enable children to make better and more rational choices about risk. Carol Dweck's studies showed consistently that children (people) with an entity theory about themselves, would shy away altogether from any risks that could present them as being stupid or lacking in ability. They also tended to studiously avoid mistakes and failure and thus any situations that could end in mistakes or failure. On the other hand entity theorists could take unhealthy risks involving large returns for little effort. Incremental theorists who were praised for effort and strategy by contrast, were very willing to take risks that could improve their knowledge or their abilities all of which could help them to make themselves safer. You can praise children's effort, hard work, improvement and perseverance. Likewise you can criticize their lack of effort, their lack of hard work, the lack of improvement, and their lack of perseverance. You should not criticize risk nor should you praise it. Taking risks is about logical assessment and that could certainly be praised or criticized. All this will lead the children to better risk taking and greater confidence in their ability to learn how to satisfy their needs for safety and security. 

    The parental role is to act as facilitators in enabling those in their care to learn the skills that are needed to satisfy their own safety needs and acquire the belief that they will be able to learn how to do satisfy them in an unpredicable future. A good parent should be able to perceive when the child needs to try to do it by himself, when only advice is needed and when the child no longer needs any help at all. The good parent should want to satisfy his child's safety needs when the child cannot satisfy his/her own needs, but should want more, for the child to learn how to satisfy his/her own safety needs. Also a good parent has to realize that his or her children know far better when safety needs need to be satisfied by others and themselves. This is also true of anyone facilitating children in the satisfaction of their safety needs. To develop confidence they have to first satisfy their own safety needs a little. They have to satisfy that need just enough to give confidence that they can learn more and thus satisfy the need a little more. It is a matter of growth by gradual increments. 

  5. Developing confidence in satisfying our Love and belonging needs.

  6. The next level of Maslow's hierarchy is what he called love and affiliation needs. After learning, physiological and safety needs, there are a range of needs that are essential to our wellbeing and our ability to function in society. We need to feel confident that we can satisfy those needs, and that we will be able to satisfy those needs in circumstances that we are yet to experience. We must feel confident in satisfying the needs for love, friendship, acceptance into groups, being able to relate to others, etc.

    Who is worthy of belonging and being loved?

    Before asking ourselves how we can acquire the confidence that we will be able to learn how to belong and cause others to come to love us we need to ask ourselves what it is in others that we love and what makes us want to belong with a group of others? Who are the people that we love and why do we love them? What makes people want to belong with others in a group? Also we can ask why do we have certain people as friends and what makes us want to have them as friends?

    Do we love people because they are physically beautiful? Do we love people because they are entertaining, humorous or charming? Or do we love people because their actions seem to indicate that what they want for us is only what is best for us? Unfortunately we tend to love to some extent when people have any or all of those qualities. But we are not attracted to people who are fake or inautentic. Many other qualities are unatractive also. We tend not to like those who say bad things about us or put us down even when they do so humorously. For some people truth and honesty is essential. Others are attracted to bravery and integrity. To try to create a list of what people like or dislike in others is unfortunately not possible because people like and dislike so many qualities and not the same ones.  

    The problem is that those actions and qualities that enable us to belong to groups and ofen help in making friends and even being loved are those indicating that we have a similar set of interests. The liking of doing, playing and talking about the same things seem essential for any group. Even wearing the same sort of clothes makup and hairstyes can open dorways to certain groups. There is, therefor, a tendency for people to pretend to like and be interested in certain things when they are not, simply to enable entence into group and to attract friends and lovers. This, unfortunately, is also fake or inauthentic behavior which people will dislike and be put off by. Of course being authenic is just being yourself and being interested in only what you are interested in and not caring what anybody else might think. 

    Being entertaining, humorous and charming are about haveing a certain kind of social skills. Such things can be learned, but to learn them as a skill can produce the effect of seeming inauthentic. There other social skills however that enable good comunication. These allow children to communicate better what they are feeling and what they mean. There have been various books written about these sort of social skills such as "Reaching Out" by David W. Johnson, "You and Me" by Gerard Egan, and "P.E.T. Parent Effectiveness Training" by Thomas Gordon. These books have tried to codify these social skills so they can be taught as a subject. Regardless of whether these books are effective, (it may well be they are effective) it matters not, as there is no demand for this information. Such information on building social skills is not taught in the home, and certainly not in schools. For the most part social skills are gained through the school of hard knocks. Basically they are learned through personal experience in the form of trial and error. This is currently, the only socially acceptable way to learn these social skills. The academic knowledge gained over time on this important subject, seems to remain locked away in ivory towers.

    Mindsets are more important than actual social skills.

    Fortunately, it now seems that social skills are not as important in satisfying love, friendship and acceptance as it first seemed. Social psychology in the form of Dweck's "Self-theories" or "Mindset" now points to the possibility that the overall framework through which people percieve the world seems to be more important than actual social skills. The reason for that is that a growth or incremental framework is what allows the learning of social skills to take place. More importantly it provides the confidence that the person will continue to be able to learn so as to constantly improve those social skills, overcomeing obstacles, mistakes and be able to recover from social failure. Whereas an entity or fixed framework tends to stifle learning because of its inability to deal with mistakes and failure. In other words it is not as important to have developed social skills as it is to feel confident the you will be able to learn them in the future. The important thing about being socially active, is a willingness to keep putting yourself in social situations where you may possible make mistakes, look stupid or fail completely, so that you can learn.

    Much of the entity or fixed mental frameworks come to us through our observation of our parents and others with whom we come in contact, and the kinds of feedback we get from them. Person-oriented feedback about love, friendship and acceptance follows an entity framework. Such feedback seems to be instilling a sense of contingent acceptance and contingent love. When people have a sense of contingent love and acceptance. Entity theorists tend to feel accepted and loved only when they have done what groups, friends and lovers expect of them. They feel like outcast, friendless and unloved when they do not do exactly what those others want or expect, or when those others tell them they find their behavior unacceptable.

    This concept informs several personality theories, such as Carl Rogers' "Client Centered Therapy'. In client centered therapy non judgmental acceptance is given as the first step in the therapy. This therapy highlights how some parents interact with their children in such a way as to convince those children that the parents consider them worthy of love only when they behave a the way they want, or meet their standards. Children thus come to believe that they are accepted and loved only when they get personal positive feedback. When children display a sense of contingent acceptance and love they seem to expect a huge reaction from their parents or teachers. Conversly, they feel unloved and unaccepted when they are rebuked for doing something their parents or teachers dislike. 

    Criticism of the person and praise of the person person can lead to this entity theory state, by inducing children to feel, loved, have real friends and belong, only when they are doing what others want. Likewise it leads to self-derogatory statements about themselves and dissatisfaction with themselves, when they act against the wishes of others. Even when we think we are expressing unconditional love we can be inadvertently strengthening an entity framework of belief.

    In their book "Nurture Shock" Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman have this to say:

    "I recognized that praising him [Po's son] with the universal 'You're great - I'm proud of you' was a way I expressed unconditional love. Offering praise has become a sort of panacea for the anxieties of modern parenting. Out of our children's lives from breakfast, we turn it up a notch when we are home. In those few hours together, we want them to hear the things we can't say during the day - We are in your corner, we are here for you, we believe in you."

    Of course we are not trying to create children who depend on what we say in order to feel loved. For the most part we want our children to grow up and feel confident in their own ability to learn and to know what social actions to take in order to have others love them. This confidence has to be about their own capacity to learn and should not be dependent on others magically offering up love or friendship at all.

    But in our guilt and desperation, we (unfortunately) through praising and criticizing our children as people, tend to make children dependent on us for love and acceptance. This in turn sets their strategy for obtaining any sort of love or acceptance. Ultimately all their love, acceptance and friendship relationships become ones of dependence. Often love relationships between males and females become ones of mutual dependence where two entity theorists form an unhealthy mutual support.

    How are good social relationships formed?

    We can ask, 'For what activities are people held by others and by themselves to be lovable friendly and acceptable?' We also need to ask these questions. 'What makes a good relationship?' 'Are good relationships something that just happen magically because people have found the right other person, or do people have to work at relationships in order to make them good?' In this world of scientific discovery we cannot be fooled by the promise of magic any longer. We find people to be lovable friendly and acceptable when they work hard to keep relationships alive. When they change themselves into better people. When they support others in their growth. This is not to say we should stay in unhealthy relationships like a beaten wife and a wife beater.

    Self help.

    This need, like the other needs must start from a secure base. We must experience being loved before beginning to figure out how we can learn to change ourselves and what else we can change that will give us confidence that we can learn how to belong, make friends, and win love.

    The same sort of giving yourself instructions that activates a growth framework can be applied to social skills. If you have a (growth) incremental self-theory you will not be fazed by rejection but instead redouble you efforts to win acceptance or friendship or love. If you do not succeed in social relationships you simply tell yourself that this is a challenge and that you like challenges. You tell yourself that the difficulty of winning love etc. will make it all the sweeter if you succeed. Then you set about learning how to win that love, friendship or acceptance.

    Facilitation of others.

    Because love is an instinct in most parents this should not be a big problem. Parents who have a growth mindset form role models for their children and those children will in all likelihood end up with growth mindsets themselves. Parents and teachers who form good relationships, who have good social skills provide just the role models needed to enable children to become confident that they can also form good relationships. Even if they fail in doing so they remain confident that through effort and hard work they will be able to form such good relationship in the future. If they are in a relationship that is not good they remain confident that they will, by working at the relationship be able to make it better.

    Of course if parents have entity self-theories this becomes a problem. Even when they are trying to show unconditional love or acceptance, it really communicates the wrong thing. Parents could well learn to be more authentic with their children, because how they communicate love will be used as a model by their children when the children try to win love. Parents and teachers have two main ways of doing this. To do this right parents and teachers have to model for the children how to best learn and thus satisfy their own needs for love, friendship and belonging.

    Also for parents and teachers wishing to facilitate children's confidence in their ability to learn how to satisfy their needs for love, friendship and acceptance into groups, can help by praising and criticizing only effort, strategy etc. This kind of praise and criticism enables the formation of a growth perspective, in a growth environment. A growth environment is where praise of the child or criticism of the child is avoided, but where feedback (praise and criticism) is about the effort put into relationships, strategies used in forming relationships, being prepared to work hard at relationships, and perseverance with relationships. Carol Dweck has a lot to say about why entity mindsets can be very dangerous to any kind of relationship:

    Dweck found that entity theorists tended to give up on relationships quickly, especially those involving a sexual element or a marriage. Entity theorists tend to expect instant, perfect, compatibility and when it did not happen they saw no possibility of sufficient change to make things work. She believes that entity theorists dismiss relationships with the following thought or words: "If you have to work at it, it wasn't meant to be." Dweck goes on to say: "In a growth mindset, there may still be that exciting initial combustion, but people in this mindset don't expect magic. They believe that a good lasting relationship comes from effort and from working through inevitable differences." 

    Again the whole process of gaining confidence in our ability to make friends and win love, requires being allowed to do it ourselves. Parents often do not like the gangs or groups their children choose to belong to, who they make friends with, and who they they use as role models. But there is little they can do about it, other than to be good role models themselves. In the end parents must let their children make their own mistakes. The most they can do is express, how what their children are doing is making them feel, how it is frightening them, how it is worrying them. The more parents try to stop their children making friends, forbid them to be part of groups the more they will rebel, and the less they will be able to grow confident in their ability to do these things and satisfy this need. In schools the the same is true. What teachers tell students to do is far less important than the kind of example they set. 

  7. Developing confidence in satisfying our esteem needs.

  8. The next level of Maslow's hierarchy is what he called the esteem needs. After learning, physiological, safety, and relatedness needs there are a range of needs that are essential to our esteem, both the esteem of others and self-esteem. We need to feel confident that we can satisfy those needs, and that we will be able to satisfy those needs in circumstances that we are yet to experience. We must feel confident in satisfying the needs for honor, esteem and self-esteem.

    Who is worthy of high esteem?

    Before asking ourselves how we can acquire the confidence that we will be held in high esteem by others and thus be able to admire and esteem ourselves we need to ask ourselves what it is in others that we admire, honor and esteem. Do we admire those who are able to do things easily, quickly and without effort? Do we really want to honor those who effortlessly glide through life seemly accomplishing things without any hard work? What is it about a person that makes us want to hold that person in high esteem? Think about the protagonist in a movie/book or a main character in a movie/book. What is it that makes us like or dislike that person? Don't we really hate the person who is lazy, does little as possible and yet manages to be successful. The one who puts in little effort, does no hard work and succeeds anyway is not the one we admire and esteem. He/she is the one we envy and hate.

    Who do we, and should we, hold in high esteem?

    To decide who we should admire we can look at the world around us or we can look at fiction. Let us look at fiction first. Let us look at plays, books and the movies. Who are the characters in books and movies that we love? Surely the characters we admire most, the ones we hold in high esteem are those ones who struggle and fail, yet rise up and overcome insurmountable obstacles and then, and only then, succeed and become successful. In fiction this is called character development or a character arc and without it there would be little of interest in stories. Basically it means that the characters that we like and esteem are those that change. They become changed by what happens to them, but more importantly, they change because they make the effort to learn and improve. This in turn takes us back to confidence. These are the characters that are confident they can learn and improve. They may do so little by little, but still they do it inevitably. They may make mistakes, they may fall down, they may fail, but if they do, they rise up and try again. This site holds that the people we should hold in high esteem are the very same people that we normally hold in high esteem in fiction and for the most part this site holds that these are the people that we actually do admire. We should basically esteem those who willingly face chalenges and over come them.

    What is esteem?      

    Self-esteem seems to be many things, but primarily it is a combination of feelings of competence accomplishment and worth. Thus if we wish to satisfy our need for self-esteem we should ask, 'How can we make ourselves confident of feeling competent, accomplished and worthy?' We can further ask, 'For what activities are people held by others and by themselves to be competent, accomplished and worthy?' And although it may seem too obvious to ask, we nevertheless need to ask this question. 'Do we hold those people who do easy things to be competent, accomplished and worthy?' Maybe we could accept competent and accomplished but never worthy. 'Do we hold people to be competent, accomplished and worthy if they do things that are difficult for us but easy for them?' Again the answer is a qualified no. We hold people to be competent accomplished and worthy, only if they do difficult things, difficult for us, and difficult for them. Also we tend to only hold others to be competent, accomplished and worthy, who do difficult things as so judged by by both themselves and others. We hold our self to be competent, accomplished and worthy only when we perform tasks that seem difficult to us. These feelings of confidence in our competence, accomplishment and worthiness are the basis of self-esteem.

    Contingent self-worth.

    Self-worth is an essential part of self-esteem. For this self worth to be healthy it has to come from inside us. But for those with and entity theory self-worth ends up being contingent on others and what they are told about themselves by those others. In her book "Self-theories" Carol Dweck shows how personal praise and criticism function in entity self-theory frameworks to create contingent self-worth which leads to a diminished form of self-esteem: 

    "In a sense, the person-oriented feedback [entity framework] seems to be instilling a sense of 'contingent self-worth.' When people have a sense of contingent self-worth, they feel like worthy people only when they have succeeded, and they feel deficient or worthless when they fail. This concept forms the core of several traditional personality theories, such as those of Carl Rogers... and Karen Horney.... In these theories , some parents' reactions to their children teach the children that the parents consider them worthy of love and respect only when they behave a certain way or meet a certain standard. Children then adopt the idea that they are persons of worth only under those circumstances.

    It had struck us before that the helpless young children in our earlier studies were displaying a clear sense of contingent self-worth.... They behaved very much as though they expected major reaction from their parents (and their teachers) for their failures. And they told us that they themselves felt as though they were not good kids as a result of making a mistake or receiving criticism. Now we see that the person criticism and the person praise can actually create this by leading children to be proud and happy with themselves only when they succeeded and to be globally self-denigrating and unhappy with themselves when they erred."

    Two types of esteem.

    There are basically two types of self-esteem, entitlement self-esteem and growth self-esteem. 

    Entitlement self-esteem. 

    One sort of self-esteem is entitlement self-esteem. This type of self-esteem tends to be contingent on what others tell us and how they feel about us. This makes it fragile, dependent and curiously ego inflated. It sees the diminishment of itself in the success of others, and finds itself improved by diminishing others. This entitlement self-esteem is bestowed by others and can just as easily be taken away by them. This has led to some very self defeating practices in western society that has reduced the confidence, of a large section of the population, in being able to satisfy their need for esteem/self-esteem. Many, perhaps most of the things that a large section of the population do to consciously try and improve the esteem of their children, appear to have completely the opposite effect. Carol Dweck in her book "Self-theories" shows how by using this kind of praise and avoiding criticism, has come to be the more typical way we tend to try and promote self-esteem despite it creating a perverse unhealthy type of self esteem:

    "So many of the well meant but misguided practices I've been talking about come from a limeted view of what self-esteem is. Self-esteem is too often seen as a thing that children have or don't have, where having it leads to good things and and not having it leads to bad things.

    These practices also come from a limeted view of how self-esteem is instilled. It is often portrayed as something we give to children by telling them they have a host of good things inside them, like high intelligence.

    These beliefs lead us as adults to lie to children - to exagerate positives, to sugar coat negatives, or to hide negative information entirely. We fear that negative information or criticism will damage self-esteem.

    It's as though we've bought into the entity theory, in which children require constant success to feel good about themselves, and in which failures send a negative message about intelligence and worth. We are in fact operating within this theory when we attempt to puff children up and boost their egos instead of boosting their effort, when we try to hide their deficiencies instead of helping them overcome them, and when we try to eliminate obstacles instead of teaching them how to cope with them.

    These practices also convey an entity theory of intelligence to our children. They tell them that having intelligence is the most important thing, and that not having it is so shameful that errors and deficiencies need to be hidden from them. This kind of treatment may 'work' in some ways. Telling children they're smart and giving them constant successes may in fact make them feel good and it may instill a kind of worth - the kind we call entitlement. We may be teaching them to feel entitled to a life of easy successes and lavish praise for minor efforts... They may feel entitled to all that society has to offer without putting in the effort to earn it, for when were they taught that anything required effort? This kind of self-esteem is not what our students need and it is not what our society needs.

    Moreover, it's a recipe for anger bitterness and self-doubt when the world doesn't fall over itself trying to make them feel good the way parents and teachers did, or when the world does not accept them quite as they are, or when world makes harsh demands before it gives up its rewards... And what about setbacks, failures and rejections - all the things that often precede success in the real world? How can they possibly know what to do with these?"

    Carol Dweck also points out that even when we don't say anything involving praise of a person or criticism of a person, we can still undermine children's confidence, that they can just as easily be learning how to satisfy their need for self-worth or self-esteem, from the examples of our actions:

    [We] "...relegate them [slow learners], secretly, to a lower level of intelligence, assign them easier things to learn, and try to make them feel smart learning easier things - to protect their self-esteem. In this way, we doom them to fall further and further behind."

    Carol Dweck also points out that when viewed through an entity theory and self-worth that is totally dependant on what others say and believe, self esteem becomes the prise in a competition where for some to win others must lose. This adversarial aproach to everything embeded in entity theory comes from how we understand physical objects. If I take a piece of pie there is less pie for others. In the case of of abstract ideas like esteem, however, this is not so. If someone holds me in high esteem they lose nothing. They have an infinite amout of it that they can give away, if they so wish. Carol explains:

    "Within the entity theory framework your peers are are competitors for self-esteem. When we asked when the felt smart, entity theorists told us they felt smart when they did better than other students, when other students messed up on a test but they themselves 'aced' it. Some colledge students even said they felt smart when other studentsmade jerks out of themselves. So here others' misfortunes feed students' self-esteem.

    Actually when you are measuring an internal invisable quality like intelligence, one of the major ways of measuring it is by comparing yourself to others... If you do better, especially with low effort then your smarter. Thats why peers are your rivals."

    Carol goes on to explain that fixed mindset people (students) also feel self-esteem arising in themselves only when they are triumphing over others. She says:

    "[In]...entity theorists' intellectual self-esteem was high when they did things quickly, easily, in an error free way, and better than others..."

    Growth self-esteem. 

    The other self-esteem (lets call it growth self-esteem) is improved not so much by accomplishment, though that is part of it, but more by having done the very best you possible could, by having used yourself fully. It is the confidence that you will be able to do and to do greater and more worthy things, because you see improvement in yourself every day, and have a future focused role image of yourself that has no bounds. Indeed your self-esteem grows out of what you feel, when trying to produce great accomplishment, and in the very act of facing challenges and overcoming them. This kind of self-esteem depends not on what people say or even much on what they feel about your work. Rather it is partly about what they feel about your effort and learning strategies, but more importantly it is about, what you feel about your own effort and learning strategies. Carol Dweck in book "Self-theories" explains how this healthy form of self-esteem arises out of a growth mindset:

    "...self-esteem [the growth kind] is something students experience when they engage in something fully and use their resources fully, as when they are striving to accomplish something new. ...[where] challenge and effort are things that enhance self-esteem."

    "...when your self-esteem is derived from your own striving, from the use of your own efforts and abilities, it is not in conflict with anyone else's self-esteem. ...incremental theorists told us they felt smart, not only when they were striving to master new tasks, but also when they put their knowledge to use to help their peers learn. Thus within this framework, rather than being rivals for self-esteem, peers can gain self-esteem by cooperating and by facilitating eachother's learning."

    Carol goes on to explain that growth mindset people (students) also feel self-esteem arising in themselves only when they are striving and struggling. She says:

    "They felt smart when they were trying hard to understand something new, when they mastered things independently, and when they used their knowledge to help other students.

    Within an incremental framework, self-esteem is how you feel when you are striving wholeheartedly for worthwhile things; its how you experience yourself when you are using your abilities to the fullest in the service of what you deeply value... Moreover, in an incremental framework, what feeds your esteem - meeting challenges with high effort and using your abilities to help others - is also what makes for a productive and constructive life."

    Confidence earned by effort and learning.

    As we have implied above, people tend to act as if esteem were something one either has or does not have. It's as if people can give you esteem or take it away from you. Esteem, however, is something you have to earn both from others and from yourself. If people tell you that you are clever, or great, or that you have done fantastic work, this may not have been earned and often isn't. If you wish to become confident that you can satisfy your own need for esteem, you have to go out and do something that is worth that esteem. People then may complement you, but it is better for you if they admire the amount of work you put in, the amount of time you put in, the dedication you maintained, the superior effort you made, or how you persevered till you completed the work. This is because, if truth be known, this is what they really admire in you. In the end you just know (without being personally complemented) that people hold you in high esteem, and even if they did not, you would still hold yourself in high esteem. This is because, true esteem, is invoked not by great accomplishment itself, but rather by the effort to accomplish great things. Carol Dweck puts it like this:

    "...self-esteem is not something we give them. [children] It is something they are in charge of, and we can simply teach them how to live their lives so that they will experience themselves in positive ways. In this view, self-esteem is not a thing that you have or don't have."

    What are are worthy or estimable actions?

    Parents, even teachers, mostly want children to learn to be able to do things that will cause others and themselves to hold such children in high esteem. But they must come to realize that they can not force children to do the things that they think will cause them to hold those children in high esteem. Sometimes it may not even be true. For instance, boys are often in a bind where they are told, not to break the rules, fight and be rough. However, the boys know well, that it is this very behavior that will cause them to be held in high esteem, even by those who are telling them not to do it.

    Parents and teachers need to do a lot of soul searching about what they admire and prize in children. Their admiration of the wrong things will certainly lead children astray. Unfortunately we often, in this society, are expected to admire such skills as the ability to strike fear in others, the ability to manipulate others, the ability to steal from others without getting caught, and the ability to take from others whatever we want without reprisals. I am sure that the majority of people do not really hold these views. Yet it seems that a strange social pressure is at work to encourage many people to express such views.

    If we are not to confuse our children, we must instead try to express admiration for what is truly admirable, such as making an effort to do good, to help people, to build or make what is worthwhile and to persevere until such tasks are completed. Or we can admire the perseverance and effort to hone abilities needed to build and make that which is worthwhile. Only in this way will children avoid mixed messages, and build confidence they can learn to satisfy their own needs for esteem. We must do this even though we fear we may be thought soppy, sentimental and goody goody.

    Everyone likes to win or be the best but this only provides an entity framed confidence in one's esteem, true confidence in the ability to satisfy your esteem needs comes from the effort, persistence and the variety of strategies you put into accomplishing something that people especially yourself generally hold to be worthwhile. Also, it should be recognized that the old adage, that the end justifies the means, can never be part of what causes us to hold children, or anyone for that matter, in high esteem.

    The heroes of those with a growth mindset are the template for the highest esteem.

    In her book "Mindset" Carol Dweck teases out what is the essence of an incremental theory or growth mindset. She explains that people with a growth mindset simply do not understand what others find admirable or great about being able to do things easily. She further intimates that people with a growth mindset are somewhat contemptuous of anything accomplished with little effort:

    "...what's so heroic, they would say, about having a gift? They may appreciate endowment, but they admire effort, for no matter what your ability is, effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment."

    On the other hand people who struggle, people who fail and yet rise up to succeed, they are obviously people who are worthy and easy to admire. People who have had to work hard, put in great effort and persist when success seemed unlikely, these are the heroes of those with a growth mindset. Maybe they should be the heroes of us all.

    Self help.

    Once we have clarified our own giving of esteem, children will find ways to earn it, if we do not push them. We can facilitate, but in the end the earning of esteem must be the child's own work, if he/she is to gain the confidence that he/she can indeed earn it. If he/she chooses the esteem of others instead of our esteem (as parents or teachers) we must also accept it in the spirit of joy in that child's development. In her book "Self-theories" Carol Dweck tells us a great deal about about what really constitutes robust healthy self-esteem and how we can encourage it in ourselves:

    [To acquire growth self-esteem you need to be] "...experiencing yourself when you are using your resources well - to master challenges, to learn, to help others. ...experience [yourself] when [you] are engaged in something fully and [using your] resources fully, as when [you] are striving to master something new. ...facing challenges, working hard, stretching [your] abilities, and using [your] skills and knowledge to help others..."

    To enable yourself to acquire these feelings you need to first expose yourself to Dweck's theories which you have already started to do here. This is because just knowing about these theories helps push you into an incremental or growth mindset. You can further this exposure by reading her books "Self-theories" and "Mindset". You may pay particular attention to those parts concerned with confidence and self-esteem.

    The most effective tool you have to encourage confidence, in your ability to acquire self-esteem, is for you to give yourself positive growth mindset messages such as, "I love a challenge" or "Mistakes are our friends." "I am held in high esteem when I am mastering challenges and overcoming obstacles." "I can master challenges and overcome obstacles because I love and enjoy the mastering and overcoming." "All this is possible because I have absolute faith in my ability to learn anything, if I put in sufficient effort and hard work." These messages can be instrumental in facing and overcoming obstacles, enable you fight through negative outcomes and rise up after failure. They also provide a certain amount of self-esteem by just being uttered or even thought. These sorts of messages are the kind used in Aron Beck's Cognitive Therapy and Albert Ellis' Rational Emotive Therapy, but with a view to changing your motivations, goals, values and concerns as well as your feelings and actions. These are a very powerful and effective tools that are used by all those with a growth mindset to reinforce their own beliefs and to pass on those beliefs to others.

    Other than this, in order to develop confidence in your ability to acquire self-esteem, you can start to sort out what you really want to do with your life. If you create true life goals and then try to work hard, put in real effort and persist in trying to reach those goals, you will earn the admiration of others and yourself.

    Of course you can further improve your chances of acquiring confidence of growth self-esteem by surrounding yourself with people who are of a like mind and have growth mindsets. Such people will act as role models for you and will constantly be providing you with their own positive growth mindset messages.

    Lastly you can help deflect the negative fixed mindset messages you receive from others, which can crush your self-esteem, by reinterpreting their meanings and denying those meanings when they are unhealthy and down putting. You can even create your own opposite messages to counter them.  

    Facilitation of others.

    So how can good self-esteem be conveyed to children by parents and teachers? In her book "Self-theories" Carol Dweck has a lot to say about this:

    " incremental framework, [is] what feeds your esteem - meeting challenges with high effort and using your abilities to help others - is also what makes for a productive and constructive life.

    Obviously we have many tools the we can use to increase students confidence that they can learn/acquire esteem from others and develop their own self-esteem. When wishing to facilitate this confidence in children we have two main ways of doing this. 

    Firstly, we can model for the children how we learn and earn self-esteem and thus encourage them to imitate us thus enabling them to satisfy their own needs for esteem. This of course means providing our own self reinforcing positive growth mindset messages. Dweck puts it like this:

    "...We can show children how we relish a challenge by waxing enthusiastic when something is hard; we can talk about how good an effortful task feels; we can model the exciting search for new strategies and report the information we have gleaned from the strategy that failed."  

    Secondly, we can provide a growth environment for the child that nurtures the children confidence in acquiring self-esteem. A growth environment is where both praise and criticism are not avoided, but where feedback (praise and criticism) are about effort, strategy and perseverance. Carol Dweck points out that this allows us to be truthful with children:

    " this framework we can tell students the truth. When they don't have skills or knowledge, or they are behind other students, this is not a sign of a deep, shameful deficit. It's a sign that they need to study harder or find new learning strategies. If some students don't pick up a subject as quickly as other students do at the moment, that means they have to work harder than the others if they want to achieve as much. In other words we can be frank with students about what they lack and what they need to do to get it.

    ...Within an incremental framework, we give students an honest choice. If they want to get ahead they have to put in what it takes. But we also have to be prepared to help them learn what it takes."

    Carol Dweck goes on to say that we can also facilitate self-esteem by making clear what actually enhances growth self-esteem: 

    "It is not an object we can hand them on a silver platter, but it is something we can facilitate, and by doing so we help ensure that challenges and effort are things that enhance self-esteem, not threats to the ego."

    The final way to facilitate the growth of this confidence is to let go of the feeling that you have to help them do everything. They will never learn how to satisfy their needs for esteem, if you do not let them earn it. How can others or they themselves see some activity or creation as worthy competent and accomplished, if that person has not done it him/herself. The need for autonomy in becoming confident of being able to satisfy ones need for esteem is essential. In becoming confident that one can learn how to satisfy one's need for esteem, autonomy is even more essential.

  9. Developing confidence in satisfying our being needs.

  10. The top level of Maslow's hierarchy is what he called meta or being needs. After all the deficiency needs, there is a range of needs that are essential to actualization of our individual potentials, and our involvement in some great purpose as an expression of our values. In doing this we transcend our own deficiencies and seek only to help and improve the lives of others. As Maslow might put it, our sense of self expands beyond our own skin, to include our families, our friends, our culture, humanity and beyond, to very abstract concepts of goodness, justice, beauty etc. We need to feel confident that we can satisfy, and that we will be able to satisfy those needs in circumstances that we are yet to experience. We must develop a future focused role image of confidence in satisfying the needs for truth, simplicity, order, wholeness, uniqueness etc.

    We can not expect that children will be greatly concerned about the meta needs as these usually do not become greatly motivating till children have gained confidence that they can satisfy all the other deficiency needs and will continue to do so in unexpected futures. Indeed, Maslow found that being needs do not usually occur strongly until people are well into adulthood. But, of course, all the needs are acting on us, to some extent, all the time. Maslow quite clearly states this about meta needs:

    "But it seems also true that some percentage of other, less healthy people also are metamotivated to some degree by the B-values, especially individuals with special talents and people placed in especially fortunate circumstances. Perhaps all people are metamotivated to some degree."

    This being so we should obviously encourage idealism and the developing of values and talents in the young, and from time to time, see that children are placed in fortunate circumstances to encourage, while they are only weakly motivated, the satisfaction of meta needs.

    Actualizing Potential.

    But what are we saying here? Are we saying that all children have special special talents or at least the potential for them? Are we saying a growth mindset will enable anyone to grow and change in major ways actualizing all their potential? In her book "Self-theories" Carol Dweck answers these questions:

    "Although I have documented the many benefits of holding an incremental theory, is it really reasonable to think that everyone has the potential to grow or change in major ways? What about hardened criminals? What about slow learners? I have not tried to argue that anyone can become an Albert Einstein or a Mother Teresa, but I have tried to argue that we do not know what anyone's future potential is from their current behavior. We never know exactly what someone is capable of with the right support from the environment and with the right degree of personal motivation or commitment.

    In addition an incremental theory does not say that people will change. In many cases it would be extremely foolish to believe that a person continuing in the same environment, without any psychological or educational help, will change. So an incremental theory does not predict that people left to themselves are likely to become better people over time. Not at all. It simply says that people are capable of change."

    The danger of the entity theory.

    The danger of the entity theory is that it will never allow us to develop confidence that we can satisfy our need to help and improve the situation of our fellow human beings. In her book "Self-theories" Carol Dweck tells us why:

    "The danger of an entity theory is not so much that it argues for human limitation, but that it suggests we can know people's limitations so quickly and then grants them so little potential for growth. I believe that people and society gain a great deal when we search for ways to help people realize their potential instead of labeling or punishing them when they do not.

    ...When I think of a person's life ruled by an entity theory and performance goals, I think of a life in which there is proof after proof of one's ability. What does it add up to? Thousands of proofs of ability, but, of course, never enough.

    Or I think of a life in which time upon time there is a flight from risk, so as to protect an image of oneself. This adds up to an armed fortress containing all the things one could have been or done."

    Self help.

    When it comes to these meta needs it is not just a matter of sending yourself positive growth messages. It is a matter of finding something you love to do that actually helps other people. If you do this you will come into contact with like minded people who are similarly motivated. These people will become your role models. They will not be perfect people, but they will help foster a growth mindset at this high level of motivation. Perhaps, more importantly. you should avoid people who bring you down. In her book "Mindset" Carol Dweck explains this beautifully:

    "One day I was talking to a dear, wise friend. I was puzzled about why she put up with the behavior of some of her friends. Actually, I was puzzled about why she even had these friends. One often acted irresponsibly; another flirted shamelessly with her husband. Her answer was that everyone has virtues and foibles, and that really, if you looked only for perfect people, your social circle would be impoverished. There was, however, one thing she would not put up with: People who made her feel bad about herself.

    We all know these people. They can be brilliant, charming, and fun, but after being with them, you feel diminished. You may ask: 'Am I just doing a number on myself?' But often it is them, trying to build themselves up by establishing their superiority and your inferiority. It could be by actively putting you down, or it could be by the careless way they treat you. Either way, you are a vehicle for (and a casualty of) confirming their worth.

    I was at a friend's fiftieth-birthday party and her sister gave a speech, supposedly in her honor. Her sister talked about about my friend's insatiable sexual appetite and how lucky it was she found a younger man to marry who could handle it. 'All in good fun' she took care of my friend's looks, brains, and mothering skills. After this tribute, I suddenly recalled the saying 'With friends like these you don't need enemies.'"

    Facilitation of others.

    Parents and teachers who are concerned about helping others in the world and making it a better place obviously will provide a role model for children to try to emulate. They will exemplify lives lived with human values. Such an example would be instrumental in enabling children to move to this high level of human endeavor without embarrassment, as soon as, and sometimes, before they feel confident they will be able to learn to satisfy their deficiency needs. Only in these ways will children gain the confidence they need in their ability to satisfy meta or being needs as they become more strongly motivated. Dweck continues:

    "We've all seen movies in which the protagonist has a life-transforming experience. He (for in these movies it usually is a he) suddenly realizes that the life of the ego he had been living is hollow and pointless, and that he has neglected the things that make life truly worthwhile. It is, of course, a cliché, but then many clichés have more than a grain of truth.

    ...When I think of an incremental theory and learning goals, I think of valued skills and knowledge accrued over time and put to use for oneself and others. Whether things have gone one's way or not, it adds up to a life of commitments and earnest effort."

Real Confidence is the confidence to learn.

There is a well known saying: "Courage comes from wanting to do it well. Security comes from knowing you can do it well. Confidence comes from having done it well." Source unknown. This saying is fine up to the last part. Real confidence is in knowing that you can learn how to do anything well, and being able to apply sufficient effort to do it. Real confidence is the belief that you have the capacity to learn how to do something well, and the belief you have the tenacity to apply sufficient effort and persistence to do it.

This kind of confidence is not only essential for learning to take place, it is also essential in every aspect of life. If you do not have this confidence your whole way of living will tend to shrink instead of grow. In her book "Self-theories" Carol Dweck puts it like this:

Some years ago as I reached one of the landmark ages, I asked myself what I would like to say at the end of my life, and it was this: I want to be able to say that I kept my eyes open, faced my issues, and made wholehearted commitments to things I valued. I did not want to be haunted by a litany of regrets or left with a bundle of potentials that were never realized.

As adults in this society our mission is to equip the next generations with the tools they need to live a life of growth and contribution. Can we make the commitment to help them become smarter than we were?"

Facilitating confidence. When to help and when not to help.

When children are young they are almost entirely dependant on their parents to have their needs fulfilled. This does not mean that children like this situation. Far from it. Children hate this situation, and if left to their own devices will try, by any means, to find ways of satisfying their own needs without help. Alas we worry about letting them try until we think they already know. But how can children ever learn and become confident of their ability to learn if we do not let them try?

A facilitator of learning, if he or she is to truly help, has to be able to let go. When we are confident a child can walk, we no longer hold his hand. We let go and let him walk by himself. But unfortunately in other matters we can forget this principle. We can stifle learning or make children want to escape our part in it by doing too much for them, by helping to much. Facilitating is walking a fine line between helping and not helping and as John Holt pointed out in many examples it is the child who knows best when he does not need help.

Confidence role models.

As well as letting go, we also need to enable children to gain this confidence in their capacity to learn and change themselves. To do this we have to act as role models for this very attitude ourselves. We have to act as if we believe that we can change ourselves in major ways, and ideally we should believe this and be able to demonstrate it in our lives. On top of this we can help foster this confidence by praising and criticizing the effort, strategy and perseverance of ourselves, and avoiding personal praise or criticism of ourselves. The key is the positive growth mindset self talk with which we can reinforce our own growth mindset. 

Life long learning.

If we truly have confidence that we can learn anything, if we truly believe that our potential is unknowable, if we try as hard as we possibly can to do the things we want to do, then we will learn and grow and change all our lives. We will have continued learning all our lives. We will have no regrets. We will not feel that we have left some potential un-realized. And at the end of our lives we can say that our life had meaning and maybe contributed in some way to making this world a better place. We will have had a life of life long learning which improved or made a contribution to the the human race.

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