Optimistic Explanatory Style

The stories we tell ourselves are critically important. This could be in education: am I a good student? A bad one? Getting there? Hopeless? Scatter-brained?


Or in relationships: am I an honest person? A good friend? A boring lump of blah? A master matchmaker?


By focusing on personal strengths and the growth mindset, we can develop tools for telling ourselves healthy, productive and empowering stories. When focusing on opportunities for improvement and learning, we’re using something called the Optimistic Explanatory Style (OES). 


If you combine OES self-talk with a focus on character strengths, you’ll be unstoppable.



Growth Exercise: Think about something that didn’t go your way this week. Maybe a bad grade, an argument with a friend, or your team lost a big game. What kind of story did you tell yourself about it? Write down a summary of what happened (don’t analyze, just write). Now, take a look at your language: does the bad grade feel permanent, or changeable? Do you always get in arguments, or is your friendship usually pretty awesome? Do you lose at everything in life, or was it just this game?


The next time you stumble, try to remember: there’s no failure. Just feedback. And everything is a learning opportunity.