Recently I was reading an article titled "half-full? half-empty? you decide" in the magazine Real Simple. It described how you can interpret a situation differently from what it actually is. For example, it described a person getting into an elevator with another person. This other person thought the first one was looking at her harshly and was interpreting the look as if something was wrong with her makeup. The first person was flabbergasted because she wasn't looking at the other person hard because of the makeup, she was looking at her so intensely because she was listening to what was being said. The article went on to describe how a positive outlook can change the way you look at situations. It gave four steps to do this. They are:
1. Hold it! When something happens or someone says something that you could easily interpret as negative, count to 10, or even to 1,000. Take a deep breath.
2. Ask this question: At this moment in my life, what am I out for? What's my goal? Whether it's completing a round of errands or giving a speech to the community board, negative interpretations can hold you back.
3. Make it up. Interpret the facts in a way that propels you toward your goal, not one that discourages you or drags you back.
4. Don't look back: If you later discover that your first, negative interpretation was right, deal with it then and there and move on. Remember - you lost nothing by taking the positive view in the meantime.
When I read these I immediately thought that these steps could help my clients when going through a divorce. A lot of my clients have a hard time handling situations involving their soon-to-be ex-spouses and they seem to always put a negative spin on situations. Sometimes there is a real basis for interpreting the situation negatively but other times there is not. If they could put a more positive spin on the divorce and the various situations that arise, it will be easier for them to move forward. Moving forward seems to be the hardest thing for some clients to do. I may start handing these steps out to my clients to see if it helps them.
Source: Real Simple, March 2007