Have you ever been whitewater rafting before? One of the sayings on the river is always point positive. Communication is difficult over the raging waters and if two rafts are separated by any distance they won’t always be able to hear each other but they can see each other. As a result, paddlers use hand signals to tell each other where to go and where not to go. However, here’s the thing, if two people don’t have an agreed upon method of communication, one person might be saying “don’t go over there!” while the other is thinking “Oh! I should go that way.” If that happens, it might be bad news bears as a result of a simple miscommunication.
That’s why on the river, paddlers always point positive. Two or more rafts can communicate by pointing where to go and they will always know it means “go that way!” If they use exaggerated motions and begin to point repeatedly and excitedly, it means “go that way NOW!”
Similarly, when dealing with mental illness it’s easy to get sucked into a downward spiral when things aren’t going well. It’s easy to focus on the negative and forget that any positives exist. When you’re in a tailspin, it may even be difficult to see any hope for future positives and going in any certain direction other than the spiral.
Making Small Goals
A simple trick to help build positive self-talk and thankfulness is breaking things down into what’s practical and within your realm of control and say to yourself, “I want to go there” or “I want to accomplish this today.” Instead of focusing on what you don’t want, which often entails things that are beyond your realm of control, focus on what you can change and what you do want.
Pointing positive helps to alleviate the tailspin, however, as I mentioned before, it’s not always easy to do it when you’re not feeling it. That’s why it’s important to practice this skill before you need it. This returns us to the mentality that everyday is a training day. Post-deployment can lack structure and motivation. Developing a foundation today and implementing your own structures through pointing positive is but one step out of many on the road to recovery, mastery, and success.