Outlook: Positive

Our outlook on life gives us the flexibility to bounce back and keep moving. It gives us the vision to try again or in another way. Keep reading...

By Ivette Lampl, MS, LPC, LMFT Bilingual Intake Clinician | Apr 27, 2015
Outlook Positive

Today's post comes from therapeutic group leader, Ivette Lampl. 
I have two children. One is a risk-taker. She loves to try new things and is very adventurous. My other is cautious. He thinks things through before taking action.
My daughter’s risk-taking is one of her greatest strengths. I admire her for putting herself out there and allowing for the possibility of failure. But it can also be a weakness. Sometimes this trait gets her in trouble, if she’s impulsive or doesn’t weigh the pros and cons of a certain situation before acting. Likewise, my cautious son is calm, smart, and thoughtful. Being cautious is one of his best traits. But this can also be a weakness for him. I don’t want his cautious nature to hold him back from opportunities in life.
That’s the way life is. We are all born with certain traits. Some strengths can appear as weaknesses; some weaknesses can turn into strengths.  Our outlook on life gives us the flexibility to bounce back and keep moving.  It gives us the vision to try again or in another way.  Having a positive outlook in life is linked with feeling integrated and sets us on the path to success. 
Dr. Richard Davidson, author of “The Emotional Life of your Brain” talks about outlook as one of the six dimensions of emotional styles.  Sometimes, as in the case with my kids, our strengths and our challenges are closely linked. We are born with traits, but we can change. We can work on facing our fears and making more conscious choices rather than letting life happen to us.
When working with clients, you can help them shift their outlook.  One practice points this out nicely.  It is important that you’ve established trust with your clients before asking them to do a strategy like this, but I have found it can be very powerful once I have. I guide my clients into an exercise by asking them to focus on their breath. Then I ask them to bring up an image of themselves as a young child. I have noticed that people tend to reach out in a more compassionate way when thinking of themselves in their younger years. I ask them to notice their strengths, and provide love, admiration and compassion to the child.
This exercise allows them to decrease their anger or negative outlook on life and move them close to a more positive outlook.  Focusing on compassion rather than sacrifice powers a positive outlook which leads to resiliency.  As a mom, of course I worry about the challenges that come with my kids taking risks or being overly cautious. The uncertainty of the future is always present, but I can connect better with them and build up their emotional resiliency when my outlook (and theirs) is positive.