By Trina Muncy
As we set about our daily routines, we can't always anticipate the unexpected: changes in our schedule, things not going according to plan, disappointments, upsetting others. Flexibility gives us the cognitive tools to face challenging situations when they occur and to adapt appropriately to changing conditions.When we are capable of casting unpleasant circumstances in a new light, such as embracing a new activity or turning a grim situation into a positive or humorous one, we can deal more adequately with the ebb and flow of life, handling each bump in the road with grace and ease.
Learning how to cope with life’s changes can feel daunting for those on the spectrum. We may have trouble finding new ways to approach a problem, or become fearful at the thought of trying something new. A flexible mind, one that puts forth healthy questions to each scenario, allows us the freedom to make decisions with a positive outlook and to cultivate happier lives for ourselves. When we practice cognitive flexibility techniques, we become more tolerant of others and of the fluctuations that disrupt our daily lives. Just as we can train ourselves to become stuck in our regular routines, conditioning our minds to switch to default mode in a stressful or difficult situation, so too can we train ourselves to become unstuck to our habitual mindsets.
Imagination is a powerful engine, working on our thoughts and emotions in ways we might never expect. Uncluttering our minds of anxiety and negativity allows our imagination to shine and flourish. As we learn to improvise, or find creative solutions to a problem at a moment’s notice, we may feel less apprehensive about changing our routines and be more willing to step away from an unfinished task that we enjoy. Improvising not only allows us to see the bigger picture, but it also awakens our creative potential. Like watering a flower, the more we nourish our imaginations, the more they will grow and thrive unhindered.
Applying effective strategies to adjust and reset in the face of obstacles, allows you the opportunity to engage in a more flexible mindset. It may be helpful to identify where flexibility challenges you in your daily life and explore options for taking positive action—whether it means implementing a new activity, practicing go-with-the-flow techniques, or even visualizing yourself as a powerful, self-composed person who can solve problems without getting flustered. As you increase your mental flexibility, you will find that you face each day with renewed energy, an optimistic attitude, and a willingness to embrace the unpredictable world around you.
For more helpful strategies to help you improve your cognitive flexibility, please check out our flexibility tool kit.