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Developing a Can-Do Attitude

Parents and child holding a vegetable

Do you believe you're capable of managing your food allergies or allergic conditions well? How about managing an allergic reaction? How does your child feel about managing their allergies?

These questions relate to your mindset, or whether you believe the qualities you possess make you capable of handling situations.

People can have a fixed or growth mindset, terms coined by psychologist Carol Dweck, PhD. 

Think of these as the type of glasses you're wearing - the lenses with which you see things. When wearing fixed mindset glasses, you're more likely to believe that you're not able to deal with whatever you're being faced with. If you feel incapable, then you must BE incapable.

With growth mindset glasses on, you're better able to envision yourself getting through roadblocks that are standing in your way in various situations. You believe that you can develop skills and learn how to deal with challenges rather than assuming that feeling incapable means that you ARE incapable of dealing with them. 

Many don't typically even stop to consider their automatic beliefs and how their mindset impacts feelings and actions. But it's important to do so. And it's also important to note that our mindset may change depending on situations we're in or experiences we've previously had. You may feel confident navigating some parts of life with allergies while feeling incapable of managing the aspects that you're most fearful of. 

But by subscribing to a growth mindset, you're allowing yourself the ability to learn how to grow confidence, manage anxiety, and essentially handle even the hardest of situations when living with allergies.

Here are 3 tips to help you develop a growth mindset:

  • Words matter. Incorporate the words "yet" and "and" to help remind yourself you're still learning skills to manage life with allergies. For example, "I don't feel confident eating out at restaurants with my friends YET, but I'm working towards it!" Or, "I can feel anxious AND still try new experiences."

  • Be solution-focused. Focus on learning new information and skills that will help you move forward and towards what matters most in life, which can be achieved even while managing allergies.

  • Celebrate progress. Even if progress is made in baby steps, it's still progress - so celebrate it. Acknowledging our growth helps encourage us to keep growing!

The image above serves as an example to help you explore your or your child's food allergy-related mindset. Use it as a starting point in creating your own Mindset Matters list. [To help practice this concept, you can find the "Food Allergy Mindset Matters" worksheet in the Worksheets section]. 

This activity will require you to truly be honest with yourself; but by doing so, you'll be better able to build a bridge to get you from where you are now to where you want to be. 

It's useful for tweens, teens, and adults, and can even be adapted to use with older elementary kids (with a parent's help).  It can be used for personal benefit, distributed at food allergy support group meetings, or even used during therapy sessions to process with your own therapist!

Extra Weekly Challenge: Pick one allergy-related thought to try and reframe it into a growth mindset-focused thought. If you're a parent, help your child use growth-mindset language - "I'm not comfortable with this, YET!" or "I'm still learning by practicing with my epi!"


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