The element of the MI spirit called affirmation consists of the overall view we take of the client. We search for what is right rather than what is wrong. We notice efforts being made, even if small. This encourages more small steps that lead to real changes. When we tune in to strengths this person has, we support her and her confidence on this journey toward health.
Weakness fixing might prevent failure,
but strength building leads to excellence.
Focus on strength, and manage around weaknesses.
There are two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.
For ideas on wording powerful affirmations, see Tips #63 (Link to Vol. 3) and 152 (link to archives). Our affirmative spirt is evident in the affirmative statements we make. It takes more than just the statements to fully embody the spirit of MI. You position yourself to consciously search for efforts and strengths so they pop out at you easily.
In an affirmative spirit you also support the client to affirm herself, especially if she doesn’t do it easily. Reflecting efforts and strengths as you notice them encourages the client to notice them, too, and to voice more of them.
It is easy to get off track with this spirit element. The nutrition assessment process encourages us to focus on what is wrong, what is missing as we get to know the client. It takes commitment to focus on the client’s efforts and strengths. When you notice mostly focusing on what’s wrong:
- Jot down the assessment items (what’s wrong). This may be of value when it’s time to document your visit. Once you have written them down you don’t need to hold them in your mind.
- Return your attention to client strengths; share them out loud and jot them down.
- Note efforts made and share them, too.
- If your memory needs it, continue to jot down “what’s wrong” and then quickly return to a strength-based focus.