Positive Reinforcement

It’s amazing how positive reinforcement can make a person feel valued.

It never hurts to start your day with positive sayings, gestures, and active listening. I think this is one of the easiest and yet most difficult things to achieve that we all strive for. Why do I say this? Think about it. If you are the type of person that has boundless energy, looks at the positive all the time and never has a down day or minute, then this writing isn’t aimed at you. But if you are like many of us who struggle to get through the day because someone rubs us wrong, or we get out of the bed in a bad mood, then you will understand this writing all too well.

In the morning when my alarm goes off, I usually want to hit snooze. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. I’ve found the mornings that I hit snooze are generally the most difficult to look at the world in a more positive note so I’m making an active effort to not snooze and get moving with the day. I’m not a coffee drinker. I love the smell of it but can’t stand the taste no matter how you might doctor it up. I’ve started consuming more water throughout the day but the water doesn’t seem to wake me up as much as I miss my sodas of carbonation and caffeine. While I comprehend that the sodas are bad for me, they seem to wake me better than water or juice.

It’s been quite a journey for me in my self discovery of who I am and what I feel I am capable of doing. All my life I have heard that I could do anything I set my mind to and yet somehow I fell in a box of labels. Some of them were by my own design. It wasn’t until the last few years that I learned that labels are just a word. We as people are not defined by those labels. We constantly evolve into different people with different views on a regular basis. I have peers who are extremely liberal and extremely conservative. If you were to put these folks in a room, I guarantee you that they would be talking over one another and not listening to each other.

I think that’s one of the reasons that positive reinforcements are necessary. As people, we are constantly being either praised or told that the work we do isn’t good enough. I’ve had everything go wrong in my life at times and it seemed like those were the times employers couldn’t wait to chew me up and spit me out. I would be told that my work was lacking or sloppy. Sometimes it was justified and other times, instead of explaining what they didn’t like, it was thrown upon me to figure it out with no roadmap.

I handle most of the social media work at my church. Some days I feel it’s a boys club. I don’t always feel appreciated and when I am given compliments, it almost seems as if it’s obligatory. I don’t always see the good things until I look at the numbers. That’s where I am getting most of my positive reinforcement.

We all have things in our lives that affect us in different ways. As a kid, I did great in school until I got to junior high. Then everything changed. I was no longer one of the brightest kids. I didn’t do well in big groups. I honestly didn’t know how to adapt. It took a long time for me to recognize that I wasn’t alone. Growing up is hard enough and when you have been used to doing well, it’s very difficult to understand why you keep failing. Criticism can be overwhelming and tough. It becomes twice as hard when you go from succeeding to failing a lot. It takes a toll on your psyche.

Up until recently, we all had very hectic lives dealing with crowds and the bustle of congested areas. Traffic was heavy constantly. Now, more people are staying at home. Traffic is diminishing, people aren’t having to get into crowds as much because online ordering and picking up through a drive-thru are becoming the norm. Our world has changed overnight and we are being conditioned to live in a way that is strange to most of us. Going out and seeing multiple folks wearing masks while doing their shopping has left an imprint on my mind. I’m sure it has others as well. Everything is being looked at as being filled with germs and while that is true, it’s getting harder to look at the every day positives that we deal with.

We are all trying our best to stay healthy and safe for ourselves and our families. There is no doubt that this is one of the most difficult ventures that we have ever encountered. I’m finding that in order to stay positive that reading positive material is helping along with watching movies and documentaries that are interesting, educational and inspiring.

For the first time that I can recall, there’s really no where to go to hang out with friends, or lounge around, or just feel like the world can dissipate while I deal with stress. Social media has been a lifeline for me and others during this time. It’s allowed friendships to get stronger, communication to grow, possibilities to expand and it’s also created a link to others that wouldn’t have been there in the same type of capacity. Just because it may be safer, doesn’t make it easier. That’s why it’s really important to know that positive readings, stories, and uplifting each other truly makes this time a little more bearable. I love reading many of your stories. Each one of you touches other’s hearts and souls in ways that you may not know but the point is that each person on this earth matters. We are all very blessed to have the gifts and skills that make a difference in each others lives.

This statement is true for many of us. Most people need to hear that they do a good job. It doesn’t have to be all the time, but people need to feel valued.

Choose to use this time to stay positive and focused. The stay at home orders are helping us to do things in a different light but in some ways, it’s actually helped us to slow down. I’m not saying that I am happy about this virus because I’m not. I choose to look at the positive things that are helping me fight depression and anxiety. I hope and pray that this virus is not going to be an issue much longer. I don’t like to see and hear of people losing their lives to this pandemic. Keep making a difference. Each of you are a gift because you each have unique abilities to help communities keep going. There is an element of kindness that never ceases to amaze me. No matter what life throws at us, as long as we continue to work together and look out for each other, there’s nothing in our lives that can’t be achieved. We may not always win our battles, but we don’t have to create wars with words and actions. Inspire others with your actions and words. Positive reinforcement is more powerful than you may think.

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