Based on the work of psychologist Martin E. P. Seligman. See Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life. New York: Vintage Books, 2006.
What happened or is happening?
What am I telling myself about this?
Is this about my whole life, or just one area? (are there areas of my life that are better)
Will this hard thing be happening forever, or is it temporary? (will things shift on their own, or is it possible for me to change it in some way)
Is this hard experience based on something fixed in me, or is it because of either external circumstances or something I can change in myself? (develop skills)
One thought on “Writing Exercise 2: Increasing skills by exploring explanatory styles with a current situation that feels hard.”
How did a child
built from my energy, my blood, the best morsels
shunted her way, turn frail, too weak
too traumatized to work, eat without distress,
walk without fear?
Marble from Italy lined the kitchen
but the oven burnt the feast
and the guests turn away, empty.
Who is to blame: no one.
out of life times the torrent of pain
runs deeper than genes
and surfaces here, now, in her
to be healed. As she is more than daughter
I am more than mother
and give her her own life
to chart. I am no longer the mother
rising in the dark to cook
the few foods she could digest
before going to school
and coming home to collapse.
I am no longer swimming with her
in my arms across the wide
dark river of illness.
She learned to swim
or must, away and apart
older, taking on this pain
to heal. Other children
grew tall like redwoods,
limbs wide, verdant, secure
homes to music, birds
welcoming the wind.
I was haven for all,
not failure. Will her pain
go on forever? No, even pain
that spans lifetimes vanishes
before the eternal, surging
forward to assert itself
as joy and vitality, when the door
is opened. We can smooth her way
as she seeks healers who match her,
struggles with pain that has dogged her
here, turns to face it down.
The best I can offer is my confidence
she is doing exactly what her soul
demands, and I offer my joy
in admiration, and feed my own life
as example: field, river, tree.