5 Limiting Mindsets That Could Be Hindering Your Progress

5 Limiting Mindsets That Could Be Hindering Your Progress

Stephen King once said,

“Hell is not immediately letting you fall, but gradually swallowing you up.”

Weak mindset is just like that. Once you get used to it, it slowly consumes you. It doesn’t devour your tangible and visible assets like your abilities or your wealth; rather, it eats away at your soul itself.

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Some might find this scary, but what exactly is a weak mindset?

Today, I’m going to share 5 typical weak mindsets with you. I hope that after reading this article, you’ll be able to see yourself clearly and evaluate yourself in these 5 aspects.

01 – Habitual Resistance to New Things, Unwillingness to Leave the Comfort Zone

In the past couple of years, blockchain technology has gained a lot of attention, along with its fair share of controversies.

If you ask some people for their thoughts on blockchain, even though they haven’t personally engaged with it, they might judge it based on secondhand information, saying:

“Blockchain is just a scam, isn’t it? Some people who know a bit of technology are making a big fuss and running a money-making scheme.”

It’s a baseless statement, but they say it with confidence.

On the other hand, if you look at the successful individuals around you, their attitude toward unfamiliar fields and new things has always been cautious yet optimistic, and they enjoy hands-on experiences.

Blockchain may cause anxiety for investors, but even with its flaws and bubbles, and even if it violates national laws, they still believe in the disruptive potential of the technology itself.

Some say that the more successful people are, the more they like to try new things.

Meanwhile, those who habitually reject new things can only see what’s right in front of them, living in the present and unable to embrace the future.

Because an unfamiliar future takes time to understand, trying it out requires effort, and there may still be risks. The familiar present, on the other hand, feels the safest and most comfortable.

“I’m fine the way I am now. Don’t talk to me about this or that. I’m not interested.”

The fact is, those who once questioned the steam engine eventually abandoned horse-drawn carriages, and those who resisted the internet are now completely dependent on it.

In the end, it’s either that your love for comfort has clouded your judgment, or although you understand the reasoning, you lack the self-discipline to change.

So, before embracing new things and stepping out of your comfort zone, you should examine your weaknesses, procrastination, and selfishness every day. These are the factors that firmly hold you back and make you hesitant to move forward.

02 – Unwillingness to Pay the Price, Inability to Delay Gratification

There was a famous “Marshmallow Experiment” conducted in the United States:

Several children sat in a small classroom with their favorite candies placed on the table.

Researchers established a few rules:

1) They could eat the candy immediately, but there would be no reward.

2) If they waited until the researcher returned, they would receive an extra piece of candy as a reward.

3) If they couldn’t wait for the researcher and rang the bell, the researcher would return, and they could eat the candy, but they had to give up the chance for a second piece.

Later research found that those children who were better at waiting tended to have more successful careers in the future.

This phenomenon is known as “delayed gratification” in psychology. In essence, it involves giving up immediate satisfaction for the sake of more valuable long-term outcomes, achieving self-discipline and patience through waiting.

Many people in life find it hard to persist because they expect instant rewards for minimal effort.

For example:

  • Choosing a traditional company with limited growth potential over a new and emerging industry for a slightly higher starting salary after graduation.
  • Prioritizing household registration (hukou) and the possibility of getting affordable housing over career prospects.
  • Working tirelessly without achieving a promotion or salary increase and then resorting to complaining about their lack of progress.

However, consider this:

Human progress, from hunting and gathering to pastoralism, agriculture, and beyond, has been marked by significant leaps in development. These advancements led to a reduction in the uncertainties of daily life and a remarkable increase in average life expectancy.

All these advancements were built on the foundation of delayed gratification. Planting seeds in spring and harvesting in autumn replaced the immediate gathering of fruits. Raising livestock replaced hunting.

Therefore, without the ability to delay gratification, personal development remains an empty promise.

Don’t expect to become wealthy overnight or suddenly become diligent tomorrow. What you should be facing is the realization that even when the “candy” is right in front of you, you should save it for when it’s truly needed, rather than consuming it like a child with no thought for the future.

03 – Having a Habit of Criticizing External Matters and Using a Single Standard to View the World

People with this mindset always follow a single logic when looking at issues:

There’s only one answer as the standard for everything, and if the result is a certain way, then there must be a particular reason for it.

If you work hard on your startup, they will say you’re not content; if you prefer a stable job, they’ll claim you lack ambition.

If you get married and have children right after graduation, they’ll say you lack ambition; if you embrace the single life, they’ll suggest you have emotional issues.

If a woman drives an expensive car, she must be financially supported; if someone gets promoted in a company, they’re surely a beneficiary of nepotism…

This kind of weak-minded thinking is essentially a form of cognitive rigidity or stereotyping.

They always assume the role of a know-it-all and have formed various judgments, experiences, and theories in their minds in advance. Regardless of who or what they encounter, they always make judgments based on these preconceived stereotypes.

People with a weak-minded mentality always see only the dark side and can only make judgments based on their habitual thinking.

On the other hand, mature minds understand that problems cannot be confined to a single dimension, and they increasingly recognize that the world is not just black and white, and there is not just one standard of evaluation.

Only by avoiding single-standard thinking can one approach life rationally.

Otherwise, you will encounter all the disappointments in the world, feel like you’ve endured the most unfairness, yet you’ll never realize where your own problems lie.

04 – Excessive Self-Observation and Being Overly Concerned About External Evaluation

Some say that much of life’s suffering comes from an excessive focus on the self.

You make a mistake at work, and the boss calls you out in front of everyone; you feel like you can’t save face and spend the whole day thinking that your colleagues are talking about you behind your back.

You’re too afraid to speak up at meetings, fearing that your questions will be ridiculed, and even if you have good suggestions, you’re afraid to say them, worrying that you’ll be looked down upon.

When dealing with clients, you open the conversation but can’t find the words, fearing that you won’t perform well, that you’ll respond inappropriately, and that you’ll mess things up…

Whether it’s being overly concerned about your inner feelings or caring too much about your public image, excessive self-observation consciousness can make you hesitant and unsure in your words and actions.

One of my friends once shared a true story. When she graduated and started her first job, she had to make a presentation on behalf of the department for the first time. She prepared extensively, from the content to the design of the PowerPoint presentation, from her speaking speed to her eye contact.

She wanted to leave a good impression in front of the company’s senior management. However, because she wanted to do so well and was afraid of making mistakes, she forgot her lines several times, and the situation became awkward.

This presentation became a shadow that my friend couldn’t shake off. She could always remember the scene at the time and what people were saying. For the next month, she lacked the confidence to speak loudly to anyone.

In moments like this, my friend should have thought, “What’s the worst that can happen?” Other people’s memories of your failed PowerPoint presentation may only last half a day or a day, while the content you prepared, the knowledge you gained, and even the PowerPoint design skills you acquired are your real assets.

Furthermore, people around you don’t care as much as you think. Let go of your spotlight personality and realize that you’re not a big star; really, you’re not. Your every move, to others, may not have much significance beyond their vested interests.

As the sociologist Erving Goffman said:

“One of the signs of an individual’s maturity is the realization that 99 percent of the things that happen to us every day are meaningless to both us and others.”


After reading the five types of thinking mentioned above, have you noticed something?

There is a fundamental commonality among all of them, whether you are seeking immediate results, just looking for solutions without considering the thought process, or are afraid of stagnating in your comfort zone: it’s a state of stagnant thinking.

There’s a joke online that goes, “The brain is a good thing; I hope you have one too.”

In my view, this statement isn’t really a joke. When we become accustomed to any particular mode of thinking, lifestyle, or learning method, we should occasionally ask ourselves: Is this the best way?

What price have I paid for this?

Clearly, the price is steep.

The price is our own ability to think.

Because prolonged lack of thought can turn the gap between individuals into an exponential one. While others are looking at the sky, you’re still in the well looking at that “small piece of sky.”

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