Gloom and doom? A 180 perspective could change your life.
"We can be taught a positive perspective."
When clients come to us, it is because they have experienced a loss. Many times, it’s a loss of a spouse. Sometimes it’s a loss of health – a fall that resulted in a broken hip; a recent diagnosis of a debilitating illness or disease. Most times it’s a loss of independence. Their perspective, affects the quality of their life, the state of their mental health and sadly, their prognosis.
I read about a research group that trains school psychologists on techniques to improve students learning and overall mental health. One elementary age girl, wrote about a history of bad grades in English. She was disinterested, lacked discipline regarding her homework and had never gotten a good grade in English, not surprising, she hated English.
Then something changed – she got a new English teacher. The teacher was always paying attention to her. She checked to make sure she did her homework, she encouraged her to answer questions. She taught all her students how to study. She made clear her goal was to get her students to like English. The results was a transformed student. We can be taught a positive perspective.
A senior client shared with me, that she recently lost her husband of 65 years, she experienced a recurrence of an illness that hadn’t affected her in years, and she was dealing with a recent injustice done to her – she said, “I just want to give up.”
As I listened to her, I thought, everyone has challenges. The young, the old, the rich, the poor, we all face problems at some point in life. I promise you, this isn’t a misery loves company response; it’s the realization that we are all dealing with something. How we respond to our somethings, is all we have control over.
Here are four steps, I have been practicing as I work at developing a positive perspective
Take control of your brain: We have a certain internal dialogue we tell ourselves daily. Change the dialogue. This takes effort and will-power. For many of us, it’s a minute by minute, deliberate decision to change the on-going pessimistic recording, we’ve become used to playing in our minds. Make that decision, with time, you’ll develop a new dialogue, one of hopefulness and possibility. You are worth the effort.
Think optimistically: Stop worrying that if you hope, and it doesn’t work out, that you’ll be crushed. You’re crushed now! So hope-filled living, optimism, really is your last resort. Dr. Seuss said, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Perspective affects response. Think positively.
Decide daily to live in the present; It is easy to worry about the future and dwell on past regrets – you can’t re-do yesterday, just decide to learn from it and move on. We definitely cannot ensure a perfect tomorrow, but how you live today, could influence your tomorrows, so live gratefully today, do all you could do, should do and must do TODAY. This is alleviate future regrets by the way.
Accept change; This doesn’t mean that you have a pessimistic, poor me, my life is over, response to your current crisis. You simply accept that the only constant in life, is change. Yes, I broke my hip, yes, I’m heading to rehab, yes, I’ll need some help at home, my life is changing, but my life has changed before. I often say to my kids, when they’re sad about a game loss, or disappointed about a grade – nothing last forever, this too will change.
One of the best pearls to live by, is Charles Swindoll’s famous quote, “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company … a church … a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude … I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you … we are in charge of our Attitudes.”