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Essentials for Navigating Multiple Systems

How do I stay positive and be persistent?

Attitude and Follow-Through

Our preconceptions, such as how we feel generally about disabilities or about the so-called bureaucracy, can get in the way of solutions. Our body language often reveals attitudes even if our words don't. Attitudes can have a ripple effect; one person's expectations can affect another's. A positive and open attitude will make a big difference in the results.

How do I stay positive and be persistent?

Good Things to Know

  • Scientific studies back up the notion that attitude influences health and social outcomes.
  • Negative emotions such as frustration, anger, or panic are natural, but in most contexts will only make the situation worse. Others may take offense or become defensive such that it is harder to communicate and reach resolution.
  • No matter how bad something seems, there is invariably something positive that can be taken from a negative experience.
  • Persistence makes it much more likely that you will achieve your hopes and dreams.

Things You Can Do

  • Do your best to keep a calm demeanor. Understand that emotional scenes like "blowing up" or "falling apart" usually introduce yet more confusion and chaos. Negative emotions cause you to respond to things using the emotional or middle part of your brain. This region of the brain tends to result in irrational thinking which subsequently leads to poor decision-making.
  • Trust that people in the system truly want to be of service if they possibly can. Give them a chance.
  • Adapt to change. Even though you may have a clearly laid out plan for the accomplishments, very rarely will you find that you are able to follow your plan exactly. The most common barrier or obstacle that you are likely to come across in this regard is not being able to do something the way you thought it could be done. Be aware of this, and be willing to look for alternative approaches.
  • Mentally imagine or picture the thing it is that you would like to achieve. Think about how good it would be to accomplish it, the way it would make you feel and the benefit you will gain from it. Do this before you fall asleep at night and you will help to program that image into your subconscious mind, which will then motivate you to keep working towards the realization of your dream or ambition during the day.

Things Others Can Do

  • Family, friends and peers can give you space to vent your negative feelings so that you can be more composed when interacting with service professionals.
  • A service professional can teach you ways to keep your emotions in check.
  • When you are expecting a provider to take a certain action or respond, ask for a target date for when it will be done. If the date goes by, contact them, remind them of what you need, and ask for a revised date. This keeps it in the forefront.
  • When people do follow through on your behalf, acknowledge it.
  • Public agency staff and other professionals should act promptly too, and in good faith.

Best Sources for More Guidance

Essentials for Navigating Multiple Systems


In an Emergency, Call 911

Looking for help in
non-emergency situations?

Call 211 or 311 in New York City

Suicide Crisis Hotline
1-800-273-TALK (8255) Toll Free
1-800-799-4889 TTY

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1-800-342-3720 Toll Free
1-800-638-5163 TTD/TTY
1-800-342-3720 Video Relay

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