The Little Engine
Remember that story as a child? The Little Engine that Could, I (Paula) hadn’t thought about it in years, I mean YEARS... until the other day.
In this fascinating uncertain time, I have found my own ebb and flow of optimism, gratefulness, loneliness, and borderline despair. When the negative emotions and thoughts take hold (as they can even in ‘normal’ – ok, that word makes me chuckle now, we had NO idea what normal is – times) eventually I catch myself and do what I call ‘reframing’, changing my perspective to one that feeds my soul rather than one that sucks the life out of me. Some of you that know me are smiling now, thinking “I had NO idea that much was going on in there!”.
Brains Need Focus
From a brain-science perspective, I know that ‘what we focus on is what we work towards’. Where we place our attention matters. When we focus our attention on something negative/unhelpful, our brain actually (unconsciously) immediately begins to look for evidence to make it true. Conversely, when we focus our attention on something positive/helpful, our brain immediately begins to look for evidence to make it true! The evidence we find might simply be the color of the sky. Or the look my husband gives me as we pass in the kitchen. It could be the taste of my coffee in the morning or the way my jeans fit that particular day. We can be as intentional about where we place our attention as we want. As much as I know this matters, I forget... and then I catch myself.
Small Body, Big Focus
Back to why I remembered that little engine. Paying attention to how we are thinking takes practice! Being intentional about choosing our perspective takes even more. I have a 10-year-old special needs daughter and she is an amazing little human being. As you get to know her you realize that she is just on her own timeline in terms of learning and developing. She struggles with large motor skills, and as a result, she has never really gravitated towards riding a bike. Every summer my husband anticipates that this will be the year, and guess what? 2020 is the year! Two weeks ago, she asked to go ride around the lake (ok, the big pond) where we live. My husband and I looked at each other and thought ‘Wow’! My husband had her practice riding around our home, up and down our street... and then they were off.
Guess what? She did it! She made it all the way around the small lake– about 2 miles. As they rode their bikes home, he was riding behind her. They came to a decent size downward slope that ends in a sharp left to get to our driveway. As she approached the bottom of the slope, more quickly than she was prepared for, he heard her whisper to herself, “You can do this! You can do this!”. And she did.
Never underestimate the power of ‘I think I can, I think I can’.