Positively Adjusting with Conative Skills

By FCS | March 22, 2019

Spring has sprung! The calendar marked March 20 as the official first day of spring 2019, building the hope that winter has indeed passed, and the blooming trees and flowers will enjoy a full and healthy life cycle. Winter precedes spring, so when sunny, warmer days appear, we logically anticipate daffodils and the reawakening of nature.

However, sometimes Mother Nature adjusts the antecedent and blurs the lines between seasons. The calendar reads March 20, but snowflakes flutter and temperatures drastically fluctuate. We don’t know what to wear, how to plan outdoor activities and wonder if it really is spring.

What is a skillset to deal with unpredictability in interpersonal relationships, controversy or even the weather? Developed conative skills can help accurately interpret situations, predict the outcome and consider necessary changes to determine positive courses of action. According to “Exploring Conative Skills,” by Scott Sterling, “Conative skills deal in feelings, emotions, and harnessing them in order to be more productive.”i

Think of conative skills as a growing spring garden. MindkindMom.com says, “Conative skills in psychological parlance are resilience or grit. The ability to be self-motivated and push on despite seeming hardships.”ii 

If you cultivate positive conative skills, you think of life as a growing, learning opportunity. These skills give you the objective resiliency to adapt to changes in weather, see problems and criticism as developmental assistance and stay positive when the frost appears on newly sprouted daffodils. They are skills that, for most of us, must be practiced daily to cultivate positive actions. Here are a few ideas to plant in your conative skills garden:

Consider other people’s points of view – Every day, make it a point to stop yourself (at least once) from making a snap evaluation. Thinking about other viewpoints immediately opens you up to a wider range of ideas. Ask opinions, read online blogs, then write down your reactions. Do those reactions positively respond to others’ opinions? If not, consider that your feelings and emotions may be clouding your interpretation and preventing you from accepting valid options.

Speak often to a mentor – MindKindMom says a child’s personality development is linked to stable, positive attachment with his primary caregiver, and that affects the drive to explore and learn things. Even if you didn’t have a stable childhood, as an adult you can seek out trusted mentors to encourage and guide you. A reliable mentor (very much like a good counselor) will spend time with you, provide advice without continual direction and let you be yourself. A good mentor will also model determination and reaching goals.

Embrace controversy and conflict – Embracing controversy goes with considering other people’s points of view. Embracing conflict can be more complex. Consistent positive conflict resolution is often one of the most difficult skills to hone. This may take work with a mentor, counselor, parent or best friend to grow perennial productive tactics.

Well-developed conative skills provide a platform from which one may creatively and effectively deal with change and focus energy. If you are aware of your thoughts and feelings and how they influence your decisions/behavior, you can significantly increase your likelihood of happiness and success.

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