role-model, resilience

Do you have a role-model, or even several of them? This age of celebs and influencers there are plenty of ways to get noticed, but unfortunately surface-glitz doesn’t really cut it when you are trying to change something inside you. For example, negative thinking can severely damage your outlook! It threatens your resilience as well. No surprise there, I have another post that explains.

A role-model is a person whose behaviour, example, or success you’d like to emulate. By studying them you decide to copy their example (politely, from a distance, of course, otherwise it would be creepy!).

Spending time with negative people who continually see the bad in every situation is a sure-fire way to ensure you continue to feel negative too. 

Influencers and celebs who talk about “being positive” are sending out a happy, success-oriented message. They mean well, but thinking positively means re-learning your thinking style. A role-model is someone you admire for their inner qualities, how they live their life, and how they interact with those around them.

To help you stay feeling optimistic, you need to seek out positive people who help you to appreciate the good in situations and in life. Surround yourself with positive influences and see the effect it has on your state of mind.

In her book Positivity, researcher Barbara Fredrickson says that “By opening our hearts and minds positive emotions allow us to discover and build new skils, new ties, new knowledge, and new ways of being.”

Choose a positive role-model

Positive role-models can influence behaviour and promote striving for a particular image, identity, or goal. It’s been noted that by studying their role-model’s “style, traits and skills”, a person can develop them in themselves to help them fulfil their potential and reach more ambitious goals than they otherwise would (Gibson 2003).  

A role-model is a person or character you can admire for particular qualities you aspire to (in this case, for their positive outlook/optimism). They may be in the public eye – a celebrity or athlete for example – a fictional character from a book or movie, or someone you know well, or one you admire from afar. 

Seeing the physical representation of your ambitions means you can imitate that person’s behaviour. Even if you don’t know how they’d react or what they’d say in certain situations, the positive image you have of them means you can speculate from a positive perspective. 

How to choose

Choose a role-model who is different from you (no point in replicating yourself), is authentic, with a sense of purpose. It can be a character who has fought their way up from lowly beginnings, or triumphed against impossible odds, or was born into privilege and wealth, it doesn’t matter. 

What matters is that they should represent positive qualities you want to foster in yourself and that you can develop a pretty good image of who they are and how they think and behave. 

In case you question the idea of ‘imagining’ a character like this, it may help to realise that every time you watch a TV drama or a movie, this is exactly what you do. As a character unfolds in the story, gradually revealing who they are, with only sketchy information to go on, you are unconsciously one step ahead of them. 

What if you can’t come up with a single person who you think has the qualities you are seeking? No problem; choose different people or entities for specific characteristics. Later on, maybe you can bring these examples together into a single character you create in your mind, but if not, simply draw on the examples as appropriate. 

Keep it to yourself

When you have chosen your role-model(s), keep it to yourself and reflect on your choice for a few days. If it doesn’t seem to ‘fit’, or you can’t imagine them having some answers, choose another role model.

One fertile aspect of choosing a character is that they provide a model for the skills traits and behaviours you are aiming for. As you develop a clear image of who they are and what they represent, this acts as a virtual template that will influence you unconsciously.

Activity – How to do it

Who would you choose for their positive and upbeat outlook? Someone who would help you become the most optimistic version of yourself.

Take your time and choose carefully. They’ll help guide you towards the sort of positive and outgoing thoughts and deeds you’d like your optimistic self to manifest. Choose well and you’ll have a reference point to turn to in steering you away fro pessimistic tendency and towards optimism.

From time to time, and especially if you are troubled by pessimistic thoughts, or you feel unsure which way to go or uncertain about a decision, ask yourself:

  • “How would (my role model) behave at a moment like this?”
  • “What would (my role model) say at a time like this?”
  • “What would (my role model) be thinking in a similar situation to this one?”
  • “If (my role model) was here now, what would they advise me to do?”

And so on. The better your understanding of your role model’s character, values and abilities, the more complete your insights will be. Choose a role model, practice, and enjoy!

Check out my book How to Think Like an Optimist in 5 Easy Steps.

I’m a psychologist, coach, and therapist. All my work is aimed at enabling people to improve personal aspects of their lives and work.