Maree's Blog

Develop a Positive and Pro-active Explanatory Style.

Motivating your explanatory style

A Monday Motivational Challenge

You probably know people who are always negative and reactive. It seems to be part of their personality. Being positive and pro-active seems an impossibility for them. They don’t seem to know how. While that may not be you, we all do tend to lapse into negative and reactive thinking at times, often when we are stressed, meeting deadlines, coping with difficult people or just having a bad day. We can get stuck there, or we can quickly lift ourselves out of it.

Once we used to think that we had little capacity to change ourselves. It was the way we were and we attributed it to our parenting, our socialisation or so many other external circumstances, too numerous to mention. With our recent understanding of neuroscience and how the brain works, we now know that if we want to we can change all that, we can. We can move from being negative to being positive, from being reactive to being pro-active.

Are You A Glass Half Full Or Glass Half Empty Person?

Two people look at the glass. Each person explains differently what he/she sees. One says the glass is half empty. The other says the glass is half full. The glass half empty person tends towards always seeing the negative first and focuses on lack and scarcity. The glass half full person always sees the positive first and focuses on abundance. Which one are you?

The glass half empty person attracts negativity and emptiness. The glass half full attracts positivity and fullness. This explains why some people get all the opportunities and other people miss out. Their attitude then tends to become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

How Would You Go About Selling Shoes to Barefoot Africans?

Have you heard this story about two sales executives from rival US shoe companies? They were sent to Africa to explore the business opportunities for their respective companies. One came back with a negative report: “There are no opportunities here for our business because no one wears shoes here.” The other came back and said: “There are enormous opportunities for our business here because no one wears shoes yet.”

Two people looking at the same situation and coming up with different conclusions and all because of the mindset they have.

What’s Your Explanatory Style?

Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology, called this our “explanatory style”. It’s the way we explain what happens in our lives, whether we are reactive and therefore explain everything with a negative explanatory style, or whether we are pro-active and almost naturally put a positive pro-active spin on whatever happens. He says that our explanatory style determines whether we are happy in our lives or depressed. People who have a positive explanatory style can explain even the most devastating experiences in a glass half full way.

So my motivational challenge for this week is to observe yourself and how you explain what is happening in your life. When you find yourself in glass half empty mode or using a negative explanatory style, STOP. FOCUS and TURN YOUR THINKING AROUND.

Watch what happens when you do that consistently over a period of time.

You can change your life!

© Maree Harris, Ph.D.

Leave a Comment