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Learned Optimism

I recently took a road trip to Tennessee to bring in the New Year with some friends in Nashville. Mind you, road trips are easily in my top five favorite things to do in life so I was already having a blast. One problem though, on the ride there it was rainy and foggy. You could say it was raining on my parade (ba dum tss). There was no ray of sunshine to be found. On one section of the drive it was visible no more than ten feet or so in front of the car. As dangerous as it was, I snapped a quick picture of the dreary Tennessee skyline (the photo that I used for this blog in fact). It was then that I realized the beauty of the drive. It looked like a hipster ad for American Eagle. After that photo the rest of the road trip became different. I began to be amazed at the pine trees. I noticed the rugged foggy mountain landscape. My perspective was changed and my problem was no longer as bothersome.  My perspective had been changed.  

This is what I get to do daily in counseling. Challenging and changing perspectives is ultimately the goal of counseling. For the person that is suffering with anxiety, challenging their perspective of their world can greatly reduce the anxiety they experience. I have yet to be able to take a memory away from someone who is suffering from trauma but I am able to help give that memory less power in their daily life by helping them change their perspective of that trauma.  

What if we began to see the problems we experience as having different perspectives? The choice to see life through an optimistic lens instead of a negative one.  At the end of the day, your perspective in a problem is the only thing that you really have control of.  I think this could dramatically change how we see problems, how we interact with others and even how we see ourselves. We will begin to see problems as potential opportunities. Angry people as hurting people. Instead of shaming ourselves for our past, we can begin to see ourselves as “works in progress”. I’m going to pull out an oldie here, but Abraham Lincoln puts it this way:

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”  

I know this is easier said than done. I have to chose to be optimistic all the time. It still amazes me how long it takes me to find the optimistic perspective in a situation. I am just as stubborn as the next guy.  But this is a discipline that we can develop and gradually get better at.  It is worth developing. 

What situation are you going through this week that could us a perspective change? 



How to Worry Less

Over the last two years, I have set out to grow intellectually by reading all of the classic novels most people read going through school. Sadly, during my early education as well as the many different schools that I attended, I was never assigned some of the classics. Since I set this goal, I have read some of the major works, such as Treasure Island, The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, Cannery Row, Animal Farm, and The Catcher in the Rye. One of my favorites was Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. Scout, the young female character, is living in a time of racial tension with her father Atticus being led by his convictions for equality. Atticus is walking the fine line between upholding his convictions and raising his two children. When Scout comes to her father frustrated, Atticus simply replies:

"It's not time to worry yet."

Atticus's response is so simple, yet profound. It reminds me of the so-easily-forgotten aspect of managing worry: control. I work with people all the time who are creating unnecessary worry by trying to control things that are out of their control, such as trying to change the behaviors of their boyfriend, trying to make the person that they hurt from their past forgive them, or trying to change their teenage son's self-destructive path. The key word being "try". These are all things that are out of our control. On the other hand, some of our worry exists because we find ourselves not doing anything about the cause of our worry, such as worrying about getting a raise at work yet never talking to the boss about a pay raise or knowing the current relationship we are in is destructive but not making any changes or ending that relationship. Simply put:

"Worry is created when we try to control things out of our control or when we are not doing everything we can with the control we do have."

This is easier said than done; I can attest to this. Yet the practice of not controlling things that are out of your control and taking action on things you can control will have life-changing results. Let me know how you are doing with making these changes for your personal growth. 



Rethinking Reid

The idea for this blog comes out of my own personal journey for growth. It is a pretty popular idea these days. Most people want to be the best possible version of themselves. This is personal to me because I am working in the psychology field. I challenge people all the time to change unhealthy behaviors, be that an addiction, relationship, fear, etc. It's only a matter of time before you feel the personal conviction to grow yourself and that is exactly what I am doing.

A friend, mentor and boss has been one of the biggest resources for me on my journey to personal growth. He looks at personal growth in 5 key areas; Social, Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, & Spiritual (SPIES).  He even has a tag line for the acronym SPIES. Brian Frizzell says:

"If someone was spying in on your life they would see these five areas of health"

This site will be a place of resources to help you in growing in these five areas of health. My only promise is that they will be short and to the point. If they are long and complex I probably plagiarized them, which my professors frowned upon. Feel free to check in and go along this journey with me.