Focusing on bad feelings can keep you in a rut.  Eventually, the negativity may go away, but over time, it’s hard to move past the darkness without some understanding of what you can do to feel better.o-positive-thinking-facebook

If you are the parent of a child who has a disability or one of the many professionals involved in supporting the child and family, you understand the stress that each day can bring. You know that it can be a challenge for:

  • Keeping cool under pressure
  • Recognizing your emotional responsiveness to certain people or certain situations
  • Staying positive in difficult situations
  • Understanding a contrasting point of view
  • Knowing how to say “the right” thing

Even if you are typically admired for your composure, the daily demands, along with the uncertainty and fluctuating nature of your circumstances, can bring about an emotional meltdown in anyone.

I can still remember a day when I lost my cool. The details of what happened are not important. What is worth talking about is the way that I had reacted.  I felt so overcome with emotion that I didn’t know what to do with myself. Negative emotion took over my entire being. I marched around the house, yelling, screaming and crying.  I was sad.  I was angry. I was crushed.

The very next day I called the school and I demanded to speak with the principal. I was upset and I wanted him to know it.  I insisted on a meeting to discuss the matter at hand.  My goal was to express my disappointment and to share my belief that one of the staff members was incapable, incompetent and inappropriate.  I had no interest in hearing an explanation or their point of view.  What happened was disrespectful and not expected of someone who was working with children who have a disability and I wanted to make the principal and staff member feel guilty and ashamed.

It is obvious that I was “confrontational and aggressive.  I “demanded”, and I  “insisted” and I didn’t want to hear their side of the story.  I wanted the school personnel to feel badly. I was reactive, instead of responsive. While expressing myself was important, I could have chosen a different approach.

Here are 5 foolproof strategies for staying positive during stressful situations:

  1. Give yourself time – If you have not heard about the 24-hour rule, let me explain. If something upsets you, give yourself at least 24 hours to let your emotions settle.  This will give you a chance to process your emotions with clarity.
  1. Practice Self-Awareness – Get to know yourself. Self-reflection and self-discovery exercises will help you to understand your personality, feelings and desires in various situations. 
  1. Think about the outcome – When problems arise, consider what you want for the solution. Is there an occasion to influence change or make things better for others in a similar situation?  You want to maximize this opportunity.  How can you achieve a solution that results in mutual benefit?
  1. Don’t take it personally – When we are vulnerable and working through a difficult situation, stay focused on the solution or resolution rather than placing judgment on personality differences or beliefs. 
  1. Smile – When you smile, you feel good. In his article, There’s Magic in Your Smile, (Psychology Today, 2012), Ronald Riggio, Ph.D. explains that when we smile, “the feel good neurotransmitters such as endorphins and serotonin are all released when a smile flashes across your face.” A smile is contagious and Riggio further states , “a smile can transform the world around you.”

 No matter how dark the times, we must quietly work for the common good and collective growth and progression, with love and compassion” –  Dr.Deepak Chopra