I’m an off-the-scale pessimist. I know this because I did a test years ago from a book by Martin Seligman called Learned Optimism. Though I probably don’t need a test to tell me that. These days I try hard to keep a check on my pessimism and mostly I do a good job of it. It rears its ugly head when I’m weary or at the end of a day when I’m pretty much ready for the world to just fark off and leave me alone so I can recharge my batteries. In fact, just tonight I collapsed on Anthony and wailed “I can’t cope!!”. Actually, I can cope but it was just at that moment, after an hour of the kids jumping around at the end of today that I was having difficulty coping with. I’m still trying to figure out whether it’s our small living space because I kind of feel like that every night!
But I’ve noticed a little negative-speak creep into my kids’ language. It’s probably normal but I have a heightened awareness about it. Being pessimistic and negative isn’t a good way to live. It just isn’t. There’s research to back up that statement but I’m not going to go into it. Just believe me!
So tonight Mitch says “I’m always negative”. And I said “always negative or just on the odd occasion?” This is a simple way to get kids (and adults) to shift their perceptions or get them to see what they’re actually saying. It’s funny because today the card I flipped over in my Cope Well cards was Am I looking for the negative parts of the situation and forgetting the positive parts? I read this to Mitch and told him I was going to challenge him when I heard him speak this way. No doubt he’s just thrilled about that! Dan uses the ‘I’m always‘, ‘nobody ever‘, ‘I’m hopeless’ talk when he’s upset and boy can he get upset. Some of the things he says just breaks my heart and when he’s in the thick of it, there’s no reasoning with him. It’s a conversation I have with him when he calms down.
But I have no doubt how important it is to challenge these ‘should’, ‘always’, ‘never’ statements. However, it’s a delicate balance between challenging them and also making sure they feel heard…because nobody likes to feel unheard.