“It’s just the way I am”: 10 phrases regularly used by people who are stuck in a fixed mindset

You’ve heard it before—the classic shrug-off “It’s just the way I am.” Maybe you’ve even said it yourself. It’s a snug little comfort blanket, isn’t it? 

But here’s the thing: that cozy blanket might be keeping you from growing.

I get it, change can be tough and confronting our own limitations even tougher. We all have our go-to phrases that help us dodge discomfort. But are they serving us well?

The truth is, these words might just be a sign that we’re stuck in a fixed mindset, and that’s a rut nobody wants to stay in.

You’re not alone if you find yourself falling back on these phrases. Many of us do. Yet, recognizing them is the first step towards shaking off that blanket and embracing a growth mindset.

So let’s get real for a moment. Let’s take a look at some of those phrases that could be holding us back more than we think.

Ready to challenge the status quo? Let’s get started.

1) “I’m just not a math person”

I remember sitting in my high school algebra class, feeling the numbers and equations swirl around me like some unfathomable code. “I’m just not a math person,” I’d say, almost like a badge of honor. 

But what was I really saying? That I was incapable of understanding math? 

That my brain was somehow hardwired to reject anything numerical? It took a patient teacher and several mindset shifts to realize that this was my escape hatch from facing a challenge.

Years later, the truth hit me: I had been setting my own limitations. Once I ditched that phrase and embraced the struggle, something amazing happened. I didn’t become a mathematician overnight, but those problems started to make sense. 

It turns out, I could learn math after all.

2) “I’ve always been this way”

Ah, the classic defense of the unchangeable self. “I’ve always been this way,” as if I was carved in stone at birth with no room for edits or rewrites. I used to think that my shyness in social situations was just an unalterable part of who I was. 

Networking events? Terrifying. Parties? Exhausting. That’s just who I am… or so I thought.

But when a dream job required me to network, I had to face this ‘unchangeable’ trait head-on. With practice (and plenty of awkward conversations), I discovered that my social skills could improve. 

They weren’t fixed traits but muscles to be exercised and strengthened. 

And while I may never be the life of the party, “always” turned out to be an awfully long time that didn’t account for my ability to adapt and grow.

3) “I don’t have the talent for this”

We often see the end result of someone’s hard work and call it ‘talent,’ as if it sprouted overnight. This has been my cop-out more times than I can count when comparing myself to others

But here’s the kicker: studies have shown that consistent practice can rewire the brain, forging new connections and capabilities. The brain’s plasticity doesn’t really care about so-called natural talent. It responds to effort and perseverance.

When I first picked up a guitar, my fingers felt like they were all thumbs. “I don’t have the talent for this,” became a convenient refrain every time I fumbled a chord.

But as I learned about musicians who spent countless hours practicing before becoming ‘overnight successes,’ I realized that I needed to stick with it, and slowly but surely, the music started to flow a little easier.

4) “It’s too late for me to start”

The clock ticks, the years pass, and we tell ourselves that the ship has sailed on our dreams. “It’s too late for me to start,” becomes a refrain that echoes through the choices we didn’t make, the paths we never trod upon. 

Yet, in this resignation, there’s a quiet tragedy—the surrender to time as an enemy rather than an ally.

Every moment is a chance to begin anew, and history is rich with stories of individuals who embraced new chapters well into their lives. There’s a certain beauty in the courage to defy the societal script that dictates our prime. 

The truth is that blooming can happen at any age, that learning and growth are not confined to the youthful.

Embracing this can be transformative. It’s never too late to pick up a brush and paint, to learn a language, or to dance. With every sunrise, we’re presented with an invitation to start regardless of the date on the calendar. 

And perhaps it’s within this realization where we find freedom—the liberty to pursue passions without an expiry date.

5) “Change is just too hard”

I can’t count the number of times I’ve whispered to myself, “Change is just too hard.” It’s been my silent white flag whenever I’ve faced the steep climb out of my comfort zone. 

I remember staring at job listings, knowing I was unhappy in my current role but paralyzed by the fear of the unknown. The familiar, no matter how stifling, seemed so much easier to navigate than the unpredictable currents of change.

But here’s what I’ve learned from those moments: change isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. A marathon made up of small, persistent steps. When I finally mustered the courage to apply for a new job, it wasn’t without fear—it was with a trembling hand hovering over the ‘submit’ button. 

Yet, it was in that vulnerability that I found my strength. Every application sent was a tiny victory, a small shift in the narrative that change was too hard.

It wasn’t easy, but with each small step, I built resilience. And one day, I realized that change had become less of a mountain and more of a series of manageable hills. 

So now, when I catch myself thinking about how hard change is, I remember that it’s those very challenges that have carved out the strength in me to keep moving forward.

6) “Success is for the lucky ones”

The notion that luck alone guides our success is a narrative I’ve clung to more often than I’d like to admit. “Success is for the lucky ones,” I’d grumble, watching others achieve their goals as if they’d won some cosmic lottery. 

It was an easy way to dismiss my own inaction or fear of failure.

However, when I started to pay attention, I noticed something crucial: those ‘lucky’ individuals put themselves in the path of opportunities. They networked, they took risks, and they persevered through setbacks. 

Luck didn’t just happen to them; they actively courted it through their choices and hard work.

7) “This is just my luck”

Conversely, blaming misfortune on bad luck became a default.

“This is just my luck,” I’d sigh, resigned to accept whatever came my way without question. It was a defeatist mantra that absolved me from taking any responsibility for the outcomes in my life.

But when I started to challenge this mindset, I saw that even in adverse situations, there were lessons to be learned and opportunities for growth. By shifting the focus from luck to action, I discovered a sense of power I didn’t realize I had lost.

8) “I’m too old to learn that now”

Age became a barrier I built with my own words. “I’m too old to learn that now,” was a convenient excuse to stay within the confines of what I already knew. It was comfortable, it was safe, and it was utterly limiting.

Yet, when I looked around, I saw people of all ages learning new skills and changing careers. It dawned on me that age hadn’t held them back; it had enriched their perspective and fueled their desire to keep growing. 

When I finally embraced this mindset, learning took on a new dimension—it became a lifelong journey rather than a race against time.

9) “If I were smarter, this would be easier”

Intelligence felt like a fixed trait, something you either had or you didn’t. “If I were smarter, this would be easier,” became my internal refrain whenever I faced complex problems or steep learning curves.

Research on neuroplasticity and learning, however, paints a different picture—one where intelligence can be developed through dedication and practice.

When I began to approach challenges with curiosity instead of self-doubt, the process of learning itself became more enjoyable and effective.

10) “That’s just not my thing”

We all have our preferences and inclinations, but declaring “That’s just not my thing” can be a quick dismissal of potential new passions or skills. It’s a phrase that narrows the world into what we already know we like or can do.

When I caught myself using this line to avoid trying new activities, I realized that every past hobby or interest started with a first step—an awkward, unfamiliar first step. By opening myself up to new experiences without preconceived notions of what ‘my thing’ is, life became richer and more varied.

In conclusion, the phrases we tell ourselves matter—they can either cement us into a fixed mindset or propel us towards growth and change. Recognizing these phrases is the first step in rewriting our internal dialogue. 

By challenging these beliefs and embracing discomfort as an opportunity for growth, we can step out of the fixed mindset that holds us back and step into a dynamic journey of lifelong learning and self-discovery. 

Lastly, our mindsets are as malleable as our abilities—we just have to be willing to mold them.

Mia Zhang

Mia Zhang blends Eastern and Western perspectives in her approach to self-improvement. Her writing explores the intersection of cultural identity and personal growth. Mia encourages readers to embrace their unique backgrounds as a source of strength and inspiration in their life journeys.

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