The Art of Strengths Coaching

S is for Switching On To Positive Things rather than Only Switching Off From Negative Things  

 

There are many ways to stay sane in a seemingly crazy world. One approach is to switch on to doing positive things rather than just switch off from doing negative things.

It is hard to stop an unhealthy habit without replacing it with a healthy habit. It is hard to stop counting your burdens without starting to count your blessings. It is hard to stop being paralysed by problems without developing a sense of purpose and taking action.

Looking back, can you think of a situation when you switched on to doing positive things? This could have been in your personal or professional life.

You may have chosen to eat healthy food rather than eat unhealthy food; to buy time to think when under pressure rather than begin to panic; to spend time with encouraging people who supported you rather than with energy sapping people who stopped you.

Looking back, how did you focus on doing the positive things rather than only stop doing the negative things? How did you develop the healthy habit? How did you maintain or regain the habit after being knocked off-track? What happened as a result?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the past when you switched on to doing positive things rather than only switch off from doing negative things.

Describe the specific things you did to take these steps. 

Describe the specific things that happened as a result.

The switching approach is one I learned during the 1970s when working with troubled people. Such people had negative addictions such as being addicted to drugs, worries or other problems. They then got into a downwards spiral that did not help themselves or other people.

How to develop a more helpful pattern? People were encouraged to recognise that:

What we focus on, we become.

Bearing in mind their own picture of success, they could choose which good habits they wanted to follow. A person could be helped, for example:

To build on their strengths rather than only worry about their weaknesses;

To stay calm rather than have temper tantrums; 

To do positive things that helped themselves or other people rather than do negative things that hurt themselves or other people.

Commitment was the first step. The person needed to show the will before they could learn the skill. This called for them choosing to stay healthy rather than hurt themselves or other people.

People make choices every minute. Each choice has consequences with both pluses and minuses. Bearing this in mind, we invited each person to choose the set of consequences they wanted.

Did they want to be healthy or unhealthy? Did they want to stay living in the community or go back to prison? Did they want to live to an older age where they saw their grandchildren grow up or did they want to die young?

Imagine that a person wants to be healthy. How can they develop good habits? One approach is for them to focus on what they want to change. This can be difficult, because it is can be hard to learn new habits.

The strengths approach takes a different route. It is an organic approach that believes people already have the seeds of development within them. Here is an overview of the approach.

Everybody has a positive history. Everybody has done superb work and overcome challenges. Everybody has followed successful principles – even if only for a few minutes.

The strengths approach helps people to find these patterns. It helps them to build on their positive habits – plus develop other skills – to achieve success. 

Switching Towards
Achieving A Positive Goal

People often work best when they switch towards achieving a positive goal rather than trying to stop doing something negative. For example, a person may say:

“I want to start enjoying life,” rather than “I want to stop feeling miserable.” 

“I want to learn how to be calm during crises,” rather than “I want to stop panicking during crises.”

“I want to do something positive to help the planet,” rather than “I want to stop feeling paralysed about what is happening to the planet.”

This last example comes from my time working with a highly sensitive person who cared deeply for the planet. They began by explaining their feelings the following way.

“I feel overwhelmed by the bad news that is on the media. This makes me feel helpless. Then I feel upset with myself for not doing anything to make things better.”

People need to put positive things into their system if they are going to thrive. They also need to find ways to deal with any poison that might invade their system.

The person I worked with wanted to take this approach. We therefore focused on them aiming:

To do more of the things that gave them positive energy – such as walking, gardening and painting; 

To spend time with positive people – such as being with their encouragers rather than any stoppers;  

To focus on the positive things happening in the world – such as the work being doing by social enterprises.

People can take charge of their feelings. They can choose to do things that they know will help themselves and other people feel good. Or they can choose to continue to do things they know will make themselves and others feel bad.

The person felt paralysed by the challenges facing the world. Bearing this in mind, I explored the follow themes with them.

“Do you want to do anything about it? Do you want to do something that helps people – even if it may only help one person?  

“If so, let’s look at your successful patterns. Looking back at your life and work, when have you have done something to help people or the planet. Can you think of an example, however small?

“What did you do right then? What were the principles you followed? What happened as a result of taking these steps? What were the benefits for other people and for yourself? 

“Looking ahead, how can you use your strengths to help people or the planet? One approach is to start by setting small goals and getting a quick success.  

“Momentum is everything. You can then get into the habit of helping other people and giving them practical hope.  

“This may not solve everything. But it does means that you can use your strengths to help others during your time on the planet.”

The person was good at art and encouraging young people. They therefore chose to start a project at the local arts centre. They used this as a vehicle to help sensitive young people – especially some introverts – to paint and develop.

The person’s caring approach provided a sanctuary where the youngsters felt able to talk about themselves as well as their painting. This helped them to develop their confidence and tackle some of the challenges they faced in the world.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Looking ahead, can you think of a situation when you may want to switch on to doing positive things rather than just switch off from negative things?

You may aim to appreciate each day rather than worry about how long you have to live; to start focusing on what you can control rather worry about what you can’t control; to aim to do your personal best rather than compare yourself to other people.

How can you focus on doing the positive things rather than only stop doing the negative things? How can you develop the healthy habit? How can you maintain the habit if you are thrown off-track?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the future when you may want to switch on to doing positive things rather than only switch off from doing negative things.

Describe the specific things you can do to take these steps.

Describe the specific things that may happen as a result of taking these steps.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>