The New Year is a very special time – it’s a time of wishes and hopes. There is something about this ‘click’ of the calendar that switches on the inner optimist in us – no matter what type of personality we are in our everyday lives.
And today’s post and my most sincere wish for all of you in this new year is exactly about that – keeping this inner optimism engaged all the time.
In 2011 I wish all of you to turn the internal optimism selector switch into the “On” position and to disable the “Off” button.
I wish you to improve your ability to enjoy the moment, to fall in love with a journey of making life for your kids better without being anxious over the long-term outcome of “final success”.
I wish you to give yourself praise and to celebrate wholeheartedly whatever small achievements and micro-steps of progress your child manages to reach…
I know all these are universal truths perceived by many as banalities and an empty wishful thinking that does not hold water against the storms of the reality…
However, I’d dare to encourage you to make an effort and even when it feels difficult to keep your optimistic stance – still to keep trying and keeping your internal ‘reality perception’ filters switched into the “Positive” mode.
I know it’s not easy. Sometimes the pressures of juggling all the challenges of bringing up a child with special needs and physical impairments mount up to such extremes that it appears impossible to keep looking at ‘the bright side of life’…
I understand it very well.
At the end of the day, I am Russian, right?
And by and large we are one of the most if not the most pessimistic nation on the face of the planet.
Figuring out all sorts of potential scenarios of how the things can go wrong – is our national sport… In a paradoxical way we love when t things go wrong – because it gives the satisfaction of being “right” as an oracle of doom. Glorifying the past and not expecting anything good from the future – is in our blood. We share troubles and failures with our friends – but rarely the successes and achievements. We complain a lot but practically never brag. Giving praise is not part of our culture – we are focused on pointing out the shortcomings in no uncertain terms and details. The greatest works of our famed classic literature are the deep insights into all sorts of misery and dark sides of the human souls… Enough for solid pessimism credentials, right?
So when a Russian encourages you to take an optimism stance – it’s worth giving it a thought… :-)
The basis of my judgment is plain and simple – optimism pays-off; and I am not simply generalizing – I am talking about the ability of special parents to bring the maximum contribution towards the developmental advancement of the kids with Cerebral Palsy.
ABR is a coaching program for parents. The ABR works through you –- the progress of Cerebral Palsy kids depends on the skill and the ability of a parent to deliver consistent day-in day-out work of high technical quality.
So what I am constantly keeping my eye on are the common traits, habits and strategies of the parents that breed the best rate of developmental progress in children.
And this one of the key elements that I can vouch for – optimism helps, and it helps a lot.
There are at least five major elements in play:
- Motivation – an optimistic person is more aware to the signs of progress being actively on the lookout for them. Being aware of the progress creates the tangible basis for self-motivation. The tangible outcome of motivation? – Better and more efficient working hours…
- Higher energy level – optimists do not pay the tax imposed by hesitance, indecisiveness and anxiety – there is nothing more costly in zapping out your energy than the anxiety, constant worries and mental playback of the gloomy scenarios…
- Seeing opportunities rather than obstacles – this is one of the key elements of being able to organize a workable daily routine with consistent working hours. Very few of you have the situation of a child who is always cooperative and other everyday family duties being low enough allowing you to concentrate on the therapy without distractions. Most of the kids’ behavior gives you both – opportunities that could be seized for work as well as the periods of poor cooperation that provide ready-made excuses for “I can’t do it...”. In that sense the factual reality is a mix of ‘black’ and ‘white’ spots – what you see as a prevalent color and where do you shift the spectrum in the long-term – depends entirely on you, not on your child.
If you see opportunities and grab them – the developmental progress is going to take place at the pace that gradually accelerates setting up a positive loop of ‘effort-reward’ for you.
If you see obstacles – the spectrum turns darker and darker eventually becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy: “It doesn’t work”
- Higher technical quality of hands-on work – a person who is free of anxiety and mental pre-occupation with all sorts of possible negative scenarios is capable of focusing on a task in hand and develop presence. Mental presence is the key for the continuous improvement of your technical skill and the delivery of the daily ABR applications with attention to detail.
- Creating a support network –sharing progress and achievements with the others proves to be very efficient. It pays off double:
o When you radiate optimism to the fellow parents they tend to ‘join the party’ and reflect that positive reinforcement back at you at the same time creating a ‘safety net’ for you that will cheer you up on a ‘rainy day’.
o When you share progress, positives and the strategies that work for you – you get a constructive feedback from the others. You can tap into their knowledge and workflow strategies that might be applicable to your own situation. So not only you get an emotional boost but your expertise improves as well.
I’d be happy if this little post with the praise for the optimism is going to help you in improving your ‘inner game’ even just a little extra bit.
I’ve said it before and will say it many times more:
The better your ‘inner game’ is [your mindset]– the better is your ‘outer game’ [your total ABR skill set and yours child and self- management skill set ] – the more you can help your special child in the lifelong journey of the continuous developmental advancement.
On my part I am going to share more stories and highlight the achievements.
We have tons of examples of really impressive progress achieved by ABR kids over the last 2-3 years that are being hidden under the rug because I am too busy with ‘what other challenges we need to address’.
I need to practice what I preach and to help you in developing your OQ [Optimism Quotient] :-) by doing my part – giving praise where praise is due and celebrating the achievements that we already have…
I wish you all the best in the new 2011, I feel excited about all the new opportunities that the new discoveries/realizations are going to bring for your kids and I want to say ‘thanks’ to all of you for your commitment and dedication…
If you look at the right-hand column of the blog – you’ll find a new entry in Recommended Books section.
It has self-descriptive title: “The Optimism Advantage”.
I highly recommend it – you’ll find plenty of good advice and help with developing your ‘optimism lens’.
The book is not thin but it is conveniently divided into 50 separate topics where each of them reads on its own. So you can read it in really small chunks if you feel pressed in time…
P.P.S. I grabbed the opening image from here : Learned Optimism Smiley