Making Time to Stop and Reflect on the Positives

Published On: 13 July 2022

Reading time: 3 minutes

Whether it be in your personal or work life, it is a wonderful feeling when things are going right, and you feel on track. On the other hand, when we face difficulties and experience periods of challenge, we tend to focus on the negatives. It’s all too easy to concentrate on the problems and to become bogged down in setting yourself goals to do more, achieve more, be better at something. The individuals we work with can feel the same way, too. Only remembering what they did wrong and not noticing tiny steps in a healthier direction.

It is important to stop periodically and celebrate the success of what you can see happening around you, no matter how small they might be. Yes, there will always be something we can get better at. Yes, we make mistakes sometimes; we all do. But there will be things to celebrate, new achievements and personal growth, that can easily get overlooked.

So, stop for a minute and think about what is making the difference either to you, an individual you support, or to your setting. Where are you seeing a change and what improvements are you noticing? Now celebrate that progress!

6 ways to Help You Reflect on the Positives

1: Journaling

Keeping a brief journal or diary is a great way to record all the positive improvements you notice. Some people like to keep a gratitude journal. Others share 3 positive things on their social media accounts. Find what works for you. Writing things down helps you remember and reflect on change, and you can look back to see how far you’ve come. In some settings, it may be useful to encourage the individuals you work with to journal, too. Consider audio recordings, visual cards, and scribing, as well as written options.

2: Give specific praise

Tell the child, young person, or adult about any positive changes they’ve made, or their efforts to change something, even if they’re not quite there yet. Avoid a general “well done”, or “good job”, and be specific about what they’ve achieved. This helps them understand what you’re praising them for and encourages them to keep doing it.

Now stop and do the same thing for yourself. What specific thing have you improved on that you can celebrate?

3: Communicate successes with others

Share the great news with parents, carers and those special to the child, young person, or adult you’re working with. They will love to hear all about it, and it will boost the self-esteem of the individual. If you’re celebrating your own success, call up a friend or tell a relative. Get used to sharing good news as well as any problems you’re facing.

4: Consider how to reward the success

It’s best to develop intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivation; but for some people, a visual sign of progress towards a specific goal, like a sticker, can be very motivating. You know the individuals in your setting best. If you do want to celebrate something special, avoid sweet treats and instead think about something the child, young person or adult really enjoys such as playing a game, going on a walk or choosing an activity.

You can do the same for yourself. Avoid using sweets, chocolate or alcohol as a reward, and instead find different, healthier ways to celebrate milestones you’ve achieved.

5: Visual reminders

Keep the emphasis on the positives by using a gratitude jar or a ‘shout out’ board in your setting. Get everyone to write, say, or show something they’re grateful for and add it to the jar or a board displaying ‘shout outs’ to compliment or thank individuals. This is a great option to include everyone, staff and the individuals you support, and models positive ways to celebrate achievements.

6: Mindful moments

Life and work are busy. Carve out a few quiet minutes to stop what you are doing and reflect on how far you’ve come. You might like to meditate, or simply stop and think with no distractions around you. Some of the individuals you work with might enjoy doing this, too. Perhaps create a series of prompt questions they could look at to help them focus on those positives they’ve achieved.

Final thought

However you choose to celebrate, remember that progress takes time. There are likely to be times when you feel you’re going backwards rather than forwards. A strategy that works one day may not work the next, both for you and those you support.

Focusing on the positives helps to keep you motivated and focused on the fantastic job you are doing.