I have always had a healthy (arguably unhealthy) amount of optimism. I tend to be deliriously optimistic most days. It is not always a good thing – just ask the folks that I have kept waiting because I was so optimistic that traffic would be light. But in terms of life goals and moving forward despite the BS that comes our way, optimism is a good tool to have. But where does optimism come from?
My long answer is one that I will deep dive into another day – faith. For now, I want to explore one of the byproducts of faith: perception. I’d like to help you understand something that I learned along my journey… something that I believe the Universe was giving me lessons in over and over again but good ol’ me was ignoring it for years:
Your perceptions are driving your expectations, which are directly causing your outcomes.Your perceptions are driving your expectations, which are directly causing your outcomes. #perception Click To Tweet
There ya go! Cue the final hits on the piano… the cymbal crash… thank you and goodnight!
Ok not so fast. It seems simple enough, right? You already know this, yes? Do you really get it? If you do, great. Go binge watch Netflix until next week’s blog (and send me good show suggestions to watch!).
For the rest of us that need a bit of a deeper dive here and a bit more practicality as opposed to a tweetable, here’s the bottom line: if you are perceiving your situation to be crap, you will expect crap and life will continue to hand you crap. So first things first: change the way you look at your situation. Think that’s too “fluffy” and total “motivational speaker BS”??? Well, I used to think that too. But go watch my TEDx talk and see my proof. If me, an ordinary Mom of two blind kids, could stop crying everyday and guide her boys to live a life most sighted kids dream about…. then not only do I have street cred for you to keep reading, you need to believe that you can do it too.
But Kristin, how can simply looking at it differently change my whole life? All I see is crap!
Look, years ago all I saw was crap too. I mean, what would you think? My first two babies. Born blind. Never met a blind person. No idea how to raise them. Not only did I see blindness as devastating – so did the rest of the dang world. That perception caused me and about a billion neighbors to have extremely limited expectations for their lives. The outcome? I was getting exactly what I expected. Long days of nearly constant tears on my face, and pity – oh God the pity – from the community. It was like a sad-ass Lifetime movie playing over and over again.
Now, if you know the current status of my story you know my life is far from devastating. So, how did I go from the pit of debilitating sadness to being known as the happiest mom of blind kids? There are several rungs on the ladder that I used to climb out of that pit. The first was a change in perception. I was blessed to have my perception of blindness completely changed rather early in my journey. If you have seen my TEDx talk you know that it was like a movie scene where I was paralyzed with fear and sadness one morning… until what Hollywood would likely write in as a lightning bolt or surge of electricity hit me. My three year old blind son bounced into my room and said his now famous line, “Mommy, isn’t this the best day ever?!”. I was blessed to have my perception of blindness completely changed rather early in my journey.#blindness #MindsetReset Click To Tweet
My son, Michael, did not see blindness as devastating. At all. And I needed to look at it his way – he simply experienced the world a little differently than others. That change in perception gave a slight, ever so slight, opening in the door of hope that closed on diagnosis day. Hope for a fulfilling life. Hope for his dreams to be big and achievable. Hope that I’d guide my son to his greatness.
That hope gave me the optimism, the energy, to set extraordinary expectations for his life and get him the tools he needed to level the playing field. I think we can all agree that hope carried us a looooong way!
Okay, now, I understand that not everyone experiences something as extreme as a couple of blind diagnosis. But what if you insert your own challenge here? Take divorce. When my former husband left I was smack dab in the pit again. I did not plan to be divorced. I had planned to celebrate a 50th wedding anniversary and visit our children at college and so on and so on. I had not planned to be in my late forties with no partner, no income, no hope. And then I started talking to people on the other side of divorce. Ones who figured out how to keep their families thriving. Ones that found love again – better, more fulfilling love. The door of hope started cracking open because I started changing my perception of divorce and looked at it as a chance to start a whole new journey.
That change in perception gave me hope that their was still a wonderful life ahead. It gave me the strength to tackle financial stuff that had paralyzed me in fear. It gave me the opportunity to halt the rest of my life and walk beside my children through a hell that would have crushed most kids. And it gave me the courage to open my heart and make room to love again.
Do I think challenges like blindness and divorce are things to cheer about? Nope. But I do think that if you change your perception when life slams a door closed on you, if you look at that closed door a bit differently, you find the cracks where hope shines through and directs you to the keys to unlock it – or directs you to a totally different door to open.I do think that if you change your perception when life slams a door closed on you, you find the cracks where hope shines through and directs you to the keys to unlock it – or directs you to a totally different door to open. #Hope… Click To Tweet
A change in perception is the first rung on the ladder to help you climb out of the pit of stress, fear, devastation. Follow along over the next few weeks as we explore the other steps that help fuel your optimism, seek out the tools you need, and build the muscle it takes to get to the top of your mountain.
Hugs, High Fives and Fist Bumps,
Kristin Smedley is a 2019 Champion of Hope Award winner. She is an author, non profit leader and TEDx speaker. She originally planned to be a third grade teacher… and then two of her three children were diagnosed as blind. Kristin now shares her journey of raising her kids to not just survive challenges, but to thrive! She speaks around the globe regarding blindness and resilience, and she just launched her new series teaching people to SEE: Set Extraordinary Expectations! Watch her TEDx talk here and order her new book here. If you are interested to have Kristin speak at your upcoming event, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact her here!