Every cloud has a silver lining, or every silver lining has a cloud?
This rhetorical question gets to the heart of a choice which most of us face in life, very often . Do we chose to see the positive good in situations and people, or otherwise? Do we view change as threatening and undesirable or welcome it as an opportunity for improvement and growth? Put simply, do we view the glass as half empty, or half full?
Speaking personally, I am capable of both optimism and pessimism, grace and generosity and on occasion mean spiritedness. Without doubt, the more positive mind-set brings greater happiness and wellbeing and is often self-fulfilling. More positivity leads to greater wellbeing, positive actions ,feedback from others and so forth. Developing greater mindfulness keeps you in touch with your emotions and the emotions of others and is the best way to remain centred, and positive.
However, it is the relationship which you have with yourself which will be the greatest determinant of your happiness, optimism and wellbeing. 'No amount of self-help can make up for any lack of self-worth' as one of the contributors to this site once put it, and self-worth is the platform that we all need if we are to grow and to flourish. As a parent I often reflect on how I can best help my children to develop a positive, optimistic outlook and this has inevitably informed my own adult life as well.
Demonstrating love is the most important part of the mix and it needs to be reinforced in every imaginable way. Telling your children that you love them is important but don't forget the power of non-verbal communication, and particularly touch as well. If I reflect on my own childhood much of my sense of wellbeing came from touch as much as through what my parents said to me. I am grateful that they were both tactile and it is worth reflecting on the positive effect that touch can have, on children and adults alike.
It is easy to lose sight of these things as your children grow older and it is every bit as important to give teenagers positive words and touch as they navigate the difficult years, and sometimes excruciating self-doubt. Teenagers may on occasion seem to spiky to hug, but it is all the more important to do so. If they continue to feel loved they are more likely to develop a positive sense of self and to go out into the world confident and optimistic.
Developing a positive internal dialogue is the next most important part of the mix and as a coach and mentor I am constantly reminded of how unkind people can be to themselves. Sadly, many find it easier to be kind to complete strangers and this often reflects a lack of self-acceptance, and a negative internal dialogue.
'If I allow you to see me, you will see that I am not enough..I have to find the courage to allow you to see me to discover that I am enough. A lot of us are packaging ourselves, trying to be somebody by changing ourselves, rather than surrendering to ourselves'
To my mind, surrender is the crucial word here- learning to accept ourselves for all of our imperfections, rather than trying to be someone or something that we are not. Much negativity is picked up in childhood but the media and advertising industries do not help. That we can never be or do or earn or achieve enough are messages which we are constantly bombarded with, subliminally and more obviously too. Developing a deeper sense of self worth, along with humour and irony, are the best antidotes which I am aware of.
Where children are concerned the psychologists tell us that it is better to reward effort than success, and I agree. By telling our children how proud we are of their hard work and attitude rather than their exam results for example, we are reinforcing unconditional love rather than providing conditional reward for success only.
The intent is to create an internal narrative which says that 'I am loved for who I am rather than appreciated only for what I achieve'. This should have a profoundly positive impact on their self worth, optimism and outlook on life. They will hopefully focus on the silver lining rather than the cloud. They will learn that where they focus their energy will shape the reality which they experience, and what's more, that they will be better able to pass on positivity and love to others as well.