The pandemic seems to be affecting many people negatively. Many of us are expecting the worst, whether we expect the worst from the news, work, the people with whom we work, or our home life. Mandt’s approach fits nicely with Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS). The word Positive is in the title. Granted, in PBIS the definition of positive is more along the lines of “the behavior plan is proactive and does not use coercion, therefore adding to the quality of life of the individual,” rather than the idea of interacting with people in a positive way. The word positive, however, is extremely important.
When we go into a situation expecting a negative outcome, we increase the likelihood that the outcome will be negative. In other words, our thoughts become a self-fulfilling prophecy. At the end of a self-fulfilling prophecy people are more prepared to handle the outcome because they knew it was going to happen anyway. This is not a positive nor constructive way to go through life.
Even though lockdowns, masks, restrictions on gatherings, and everything else we have had to face this past year has not been fun, we have to work on keeping a positive attitude. We have to remember to affirm the feeling (I feel sad that I have not been able to visit my 85 year old mother) and choose the behavior (keep myself safe, try to get vaccinated, and look for a future date to visit).
Another way to look at this is we end up getting in our own way. When we expect that the student we are working with is going to be a handful today, they usually are. When we expect the meeting we are heading to is going to be boring, it usually is. We are the ones, in part, creating the expectations and feelings that we do not like. Rather than make ourselves feel bad with these expectations, what if we expect that each student or person we will be working with today will do something amazing. We then look for that amazing thing. When we find it, what a feeling! Not only do we experience a great feeling, imagine the person we are working with. They notice our excitement, pride, joy (whatever the emotion is) because of their accomplishment and their day is better. We also serve as a better role model when we are expecting and looking for positive things, rather than negative.
Most of us are primed to look for the negatives. Think about most of our documentation paperwork, what is it asking you to document? Think about how most of us were raised, what do we pay attention to, the negatives. It’s time we get out of our own way and change things around! Let’s all start looking for and expecting positive things. I don’t mean to suggest that if we think positively the pandemic will go away. But, even in the midst of trying times good things are happening.
To help myself make this change, several years ago I tried to change my behavior and approach. Every morning in those few seconds between the alarm going off and my feet hitting the floor I would tell myself that today is going to be a great day! After a week or two of this I had a little song in my head that automatically played that phrase. It was also during this same time that things in my workplace were extremely stressful. I ended up being laid off! While that may sound dark and terrible, it was that layoff that led to my opportunity to be hired as a Mandt Faculty member. So, even though I was losing a job, that got me out of a negative situation and into the best job I have ever had!
So, find your own way of saying, singing, hearing, signing, drawing, or whatever your method of expression may be the idea that “Today’s going to be a great day.”
Dr. Dale Shannon – Director of Instructional Design