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​Focus on What is Going Right

The way you talk to yourself & your children (& others) matters.

For many students and families this can be a stressful time of year due to the nature of academic assessments and the reporting of learning outcomes. Each time a student submits work or undertakes a test or exam, it generates a form of feedback. Depending of the year level of the student, a fixed vs growth mindset, family values and parental expectations, and/or any other known impacting factors, it is important to remember to focus on what is going right.

As the parent of a VCE student I understand first-hand the competing messages students absorb during their VCE experience. For students to reach the end of 13 years of schooling and receive an arbitrary measure of “success” determined by exam results and an ATAR score can be a hollow experience. Indeed, the pressure to reach one’s potential can generate a fast-moving emotional rollercoaster. In truth, exam results do go towards setting the next chapter for many students, but it will not define them. To reach the end of 13 years of schooling is a massive milestone in itself, and many things have gone right along the way that have augured this “success”.

“Success” comes from a willingness to actively engage and explore in one’s learning, to work through challenges, sometimes asking for support and at other times to be willing to accept it when it is offered. It is about resilience, perseverance, empathy and gratitude. The older the student the more it needs to be self-determined, and by playing to our strengths the more “success” is experienced.

With all of this at the front of my mind I want to share with you an article by Catherine Plano, Executive Mindset Coach, Transformational Leadership Facilitator, Leadership and Culture Consultant at Ellevate (via the Thrive Global website.)

Yours in supporting & promoting positive student wellbeing,

Donna Nairn
Director of Counselling 


You can always choose to perceive things differently. You have a choice. You can focus on what’s wrong in your life, or you can focus on what’s right in your life. If you focus on all the things that could go wrong, then you will miss out on all the things that could go right.

Our natural disposition as human beings is to think negative and to be attracted to all the dramas going on around us. You just need to check the news or newspapers and voila! It’s on every page!

How often do you focus on what’s going right in your world? Not often at all. It’s almost as if we are wired to think this way because we have been conditioned by our negative environment.

You can make a difference. The next time you find yourself speaking about a problem or catching yourself being negative why not flip it on its head and do something completely the opposite? Instead of focusing on what’s going wrong – which unfortunately most of us do – we can focus on what’s going right. That’s a paradigm shift in itself.

Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor.

When you focus on what’s going right rather than what’s going wrong, you create a habitual pattern for your brain that understands that everything in your life is an “opportunity,” and there are no such things as problems. When you have a solution-focused mindset, you don’t get stuck in any situation – rather, you find yourself filled with ideas and opportunities in ways that you have never imagined before.

If right now you are not where you want to be and you are getting less than amazing results in any area of life, then sit yourself down and, in a journal, write down your points of focus in all areas of your life. What do you see? Are they “fear”-based? Are you focused on all the areas that are wrong in your life? And if you are, what can you do to shift your mindset to a new way of thinking?

Don’t be afraid to challenge your thinking. If you look at today as if it is not just another day, but a brand-new day filled with opportunities, then guess what? You will find them.

And when you do bump up against an obstacle that stops you in your tracks, you’ll realize that it actually isn’t meant to stop you, but rather point you toward a new direction, a new route, a new opportunity, a new possibility, and a new path. This sometimes get us stuck if we don’t focus on all the things that are going right for us.

Free will is the power of choosing.

We all have free will, a deliberate choice in everything that we do, including how we respond and react to every stimulus. Free will means that we can make conscious decisions that are not determined by any past conditionings. Freedom is not only possible, but necessary if we are to become fully-functional human beings.

The key to free will is self-actualization, where the motivation is to realize one’s own maximum potential and possibilities. This occurs when a person is able to take full advantage of their own skills and talents while still being mindful of their limitations. Conscious reflection on your own behaviour is seen as the best way of achieving your goals and learning from mistakes. This is free will.

The achievement of goals, acceptance of oneself, and ability to self-assess in a realistic and positive way are how we get to free will. Accept yourself and others without judgement, so you can demonstrate empathy and compassion for others.

Free will is the ability to do wholeheartedly what you must. The only way to get to that is to invest time with yourself. Know that you do have a choice whether you stay or go, whether you say “yes” or “no,” and more importantly, how your respond to your triggers in your environment.

Trust and allowing are the same thing.

You want to allow things to happen, but guess what? Most of the time we don’t trust that they are going to happen, so we get in the way of their arrival. Sometimes we just need to chill out by stopping and smelling the roses to allow things to take form.

This takes practice, I know, and there’s a lot to take in here. Focus on what is going right, instead of what’s going wrong, so that you can be more open to opportunities. When you’re exercising your free will, you become in charge of your life.

Yes, that can feel a little heavy, maybe a bit of a burden, or like too much responsibility. And then, of course, I’m also telling you to stop pushing and chill out? If you’re kind of confused, then you’re on the right track. In order to see opportunities, you need to focus on the good things in your life, and then, to enable the outcomes you want, stop “forcing” and start “allowing.”

Enlightened leader Abraham Hicks tells us that it is exactly this “allowing” state of being that is out of balance for so many of us. Many of us have long lists of unfulfilled wants, and although there is always room for improvement in clarifying precisely what it is that we are intending, we cannot begin to let any of our desires into our lives unless we allow ourselves to receive what we want.

Detachment is the beginning of mastery.

Detachment doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t want or have anything. In fact, it’s quite the opposite – whatever you are attached to, should not own you!

When we want something with our heart and soul, we hang on to it with all our might…and wonder why it never comes to us. Faith plays a big part here; the secret is not to be attached to an outcome or how it will come to fruition.

This includes our relationships with individuals. We get so involved in other people’s stuff that we tend not to be detached and allow others to experience their own consequences, instead tending to take on their responsibilities ourselves.

Now that’s not focusing on what is going right, right? Step back and see the situation as their lesson (maybe if you’re entangled, there’s a lesson for you, too!) Quite simply, we learn from every experience if we choose to.

Deepak Chopra tells us about the law of detachment: You can choose your own words and actions, but you cannot control the response to your words and actions. Being the detached observer of all the things that go on in your world is the key to releasing all of your emotions attached to an outcome.

If you can do this, then you, my dearest, will experience true freedom of the mind and soul. Detachment is the beginning of mastery!

Acknowledgements & further reading:

https://thriveglobal.com/stories/to-boost-happiness-focus-on-success/?fbclid=IwAR35-Duey09lJ341OTfM0ZAfHm5fGZacjp7z26CgiHTMLsC9CgEOySgRTPI

https://thriveglobal.com/stories/arianna-huffington-parenting-distracted-technology-screen-time-impacting-children-relationships/

https://www.maggiedent.com/blog/a-letter-to-a-21st-century-teen/

https://www.viacharacter.org/topics/articles/what-are-your-signature-strengths?fbclid=IwAR3KRqxS-3ZQyTA7DUkVsix-LDzFyQ2eXnWve5JdAxU0tu34oti7GRtNQWo