For the Family & Loved Ones

How Your Optimism Can Help Your Child Change

advice on optimism for parents of children struggling with addiction and alcoholism

How Your Optimism Can Help Your Child Change

Fri, 04 Mar 2022 04:04:59 +0000

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Are you having trouble putting any optimism in your life because of your struggling child?

Would you like some thoughts on how optimism can help you?

Few things in the world are more powerful than a positive push. A smile. A world of optimism and hope. A ‘you can do it’ when things are tough. ~ Richard M. DeVos

When you are trying to cope with substance use, it can feel daunting and painful. You may have had some negative experiences, so it can feel hard to be optimistic.

Yet, there are strategies that you can put into place to help you feel more centered and positive.

I recently listened to an interview with Michelle Gielan, who researches the link between happiness and success. So much of what she said applies to dealing with substance use.

Substance use is a problem that you may be facing, and like any problem, the more optimistic you are about the outcome, the better.



What do you think will happen during an engagement with your child if you approach the problem more optimistically?

While it may feel like a challenge to be optimistic, you can train your mind to look at things differently.

When you are more positive, optimistic, and resilient, your chances for a positive outcome increase. You will more likely have fewer health issues and feel happier.

Being optimistic doesn’t mean you are wearing rose-colored glasses and not facing reality. According to Michelle, “Optimism is defined by the expectation of good things to happen and the belief that our behavior matters, especially in the face of challenges.”

Optimism doesn’t take away the reality of the situation. You can take a realistic assessment of what is happening while maintaining the belief that your behavior matters, especially in the face of this great challenge.

If you believe that your behavior makes a difference, you feel a sense of hope and a sense of empowerment. You will feel more ready to pick an action step and move forward.

According to Michelle, optimism is a perception of control coupled with the anticipation of a desired outcome in the future. It’s the belief that your behavior makes a difference.

Here are some ways to face your reality that will help influence your level of optimism.

Practice gratitude

The practice of gratitude can be instrumental from a scientific perspective. It can transform how you experience your world.

  • Write down three new and unique things that you are grateful for daily.
  • Specificity is vital when adopting a gratitude practice – the more specific you are, the better.
  • Write why you are grateful for something. (I’m thankful my child went to work today because it’s a step closer to him reaching his long-term goals.)
  • Saying or writing what you are grateful for every day is helpful because it gets your brain into a consistent rhythm.
  • You will see the world differently as your brain starts scanning for more things to add to your gratitude list.
  • Practicing gratitude can fill your brain with positive content. Your chances of having a good day are better.

Don’t only focus on problems but also focus on solutions. You improve your creative problem-solving ability on subsequent unrelated tasks. It is possible to engage with the negative issues. Just don’t leave your brain there.

You have to focus your brain on a path forward. It can problem solve. Remember that your behavior matters and continue with positive action steps that help you overcome the challenges you face.

Optimists are not only thinking positively. They are creating positive habits. It’s not about happy all the time. It’s more about how you get your brain to move on from the negativity if your brain doesn’t want to move on?

Engage with negativity productively.

You won’t be able to avoid all negativity around your child’s issues altogether. Here are some ideas on dealing with the negative aspects you are most likely to encounter. Be clear boundaries. Stay clear, concise, and take baby steps forward.

The more you can bolster your positive resources by engaging in positive habits, the more you lessen the effect of the negative situation or negative people.Strategic retreat – take a retreat to bolster your positive resources, and when you return, you’ll have had a chance to develop a game plan. (Dr. Meyers, the founder of CRAFT, recommends looking at pictures of your kids when they were little.)Think about how you can keep the conversation moving in a constructive way.Understand that negativity expresses suffering. The more you can keep that in mind, the more compassion you will have for your child.You don’t need to excuse the behavior, but you can remember compassion.The more you can keep your brain in a positive state, the less your child’s behavior will affect you.Besides their use of substances, what are other aspects of your son or daughter that you can respond to?Focus on anything your child is doing right. It’s all about getting your family members to focus on the good.Can you convert “I can’t help my child.” to “How can I?”

Fact check your thoughts.

What are the stories you are telling yourself? Are they true? Don’t believe everything you think.

Gather other elements of the story that provide a more positive narrative.Get clear about what you are stressing about and why you’re stressing. It will help you see the other facts in the story that may give you a new perspective. These could be successes that your child has had that you might be overlooking.Sometimes we are too close to things. It’s hard to read the label when you are inside the jar. That’s why it’s so helpful to get support. By taking a step back, you can be more objective. You can see things in a different light.When you fact-check your story, it will help your brain see more information. That will help you experience your reality differently.

What you say to yourself and what you say to other people in the face of challenges are the best predictors of happiness. The more you can positively engage with your child, the happier they will be, which will help with change.

Transform your relationship with stress

We can help our brains feel more peaceful and calm when appropriate and move away from stress. According to Michelle, research shows that you can transform the relationship with the stress you are experiencing.

You can channel it in a different direction. Studies showed a drop in stress-related symptoms, such as headaches, backaches, and fatigue. When you positively engage with stress, you will have a greater chance of success in all areas of your life.

If you have an optimistic outlook about your child’s stressful situation, you’ll not feel as stressed about it. That will help you stay physically, emotionally, and mentally strong. If you expect good things from yourself and your life and hold on to that expectation for your struggling child, it can give you a greater chance to motivate your child to change.

Create optimistic habits

Behaviors of optimistic people:

  • Focus on what’s working.
  • Celebrate the positive moments.
  • Seek progress, not perfection.
  • Don’t become too attached to one plan or a specific outcome. Have a rough plan instead.
  • Take the stigma out of addiction and have helpful and meaningful conversations.
  • Find a peer group or even one person who you can talk to about the issue you are having with your child.
  • Ask open-ended questionsListen to the perspective of like-minded people.
  • Focus on aspirations – have conversations about goals.
  • Keep it brief – having regular shorter conversations can be more helpful.

You can change your relationship with your son or daughter into something more positive.

As a parent, you are influential. You can help change your child. Get your brain in that positive state so that you feel confident in your ability to change other people.

Your optimism can be a driving force towards change.

Thank you for reading. Don’t forget to sign up for the Sunday newsletter with information and inspiration to help parents. And remember, there is hope for your child.

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