Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.Winston Churchill
Where do you need to check your attitude? It’s very easy to get stuck in a spin cycle of negativity. Oftentimes, we complain about the circumstances in the world and in our lives like we are reporting the news. We’re right. We’re justified, and we’re just telling it like it is.
The problem is that focusing on the negative and continually complaining keeps us feeling like a victim. We give away all of our power, finding more evidence that confirms our belief, creating more of the same. Our negative attitude keeps us stuck and powerless. It feels terrible. It drains our energy.
Why does it feel so much easier to have a terrible attitude and what can we do about it?
It’s easy for us to focus on the negative because our brain just naturally goes there. It’s designed to keep us safe and so it looks for problem. If it can identify problems, it keeps you in a loop of fear, doubt and worry. Then you’ll hold yourself back in order to be safe. It is eliminating the risk.
Looking for problems and defaulting to the negative is a part of our primitive programming. Which worked great when we lived in a cave, 40,000 years ago. We had to fear for our physical safety and survival on a daily basis.
Today, however, this is clearly not the case. Our physical survival is not at risk on a daily basis anymore. So, while our brain will naturally look for problems, we do not have to indulge in that line of thinking. We do not have to believe what it is telling us. This is great news.
It is up to us to manage our mind, otherwise it will manage us. You need to actively and purposefully redirect it to look for the positive. Tell it what to focus on in order to create the what you want for yourself, not giving into the fear and worry.
I often hear stories from clients about how something shouldn’t have happened to them. They believe that things should have turned out in a different way. The subtext is that it is unfair. Or that something went terribly wrong. Truth is, by believing that things weren’t fair and shouldn’t have happened, all we are doing is arguing with reality. And when we argue with reality, we will never win. Ever.
It did happen. She said it. He left. You lost your job. Your parents got divorced. The business went bankrupt.
How much time do you now want to spend reliving it? How much energy do you want to use in recreating it? Is it really worth talking about any longer? Is it serving you?
Retelling it and believing that it shouldn’t have happened or that it wasn’t fair doesn’t have any upside.
Portraying ourselves as the victim is easy. It means that we don’t have to accept any responsibility for what happened nor for moving on. It’s easy to blame someone else and feel sorry for ourselves. We feel justified and it’s satisfying. It means we don’t have to take any action. We don’t have to change how we are thinking and feeling, which would require effort.
Being a victim is keeping ourselves in emotional childhood. We are blaming other people and circumstances for the way we feel. The truth is, other people can’t cause us to feel anything. Nor can any external situation.
If you are looking for evidence for anything, you will find it. The more you focus on something, the more you will create of it. Your brain loves to have something to focus on, to look for, to solve. When you repeatedly tell the story of what is wrong, your brain will keeping serving more of the same. It’s easy for it, and our brain loves to be efficient. Without direction, your brain does what is easiest. In this case, it is looking for more problems and evidence for what is wrong. It doesn’t have to exert any energy in looking for something new. You become stuck in thought loops and negative spin cycles. It becomes a habit. It becomes harder to change.
So, how can you check your attitude to ensure that you end the negativity?
In order to check your attitude, you can try asking yourself what else could be true. If, for instance, you have an attitude about the people you work with, try asking this question to yourself. Come up with three ways in which your co-workers aren’t so annoying. This gives your brain something else to focus on. It will start to poke holes in your belief that there is something wrong with them. It will look for new evidence.
If you are feeling stuck, chances are you telling yourself the same terrible story about what happened to you. Perhaps you got divorced because your husband cheated on you and left you to raise your small children. It’s easy to understand that the story you are telling is one where he did this terrible thing to you. It’s been hard. You didn’t ask for this. Everyone probably agrees with you. But is this story serving you? It keeps you feeling sad or angry or disappointed, or all of the above.
Can you start to rewrite that story? What if you looked for ways in which you are the heroine of the story instead of the victim? I guarantee they are there if you look for them. It’s not about letting him off the hook. It’s about you and what empowers you and makes you feel better. When you tell that story, he doesn’t feel badly, you do. You’re giving away your power to him. It serves no purpose.
When you start to retell the story where you are the heroine, it is empowering. It can be freeing. It just feels better. When you feel better, you will take better action and therefore create better results for yourself. You cannot take positive, inspired action when you are feeling negatively. You simply can’t. If you want to get unstuck and move yourself forward, tell yourself a better story.
If you deliberately look for the positive aspects in yourself or in others, you will find more of those things.
You will get more of what you think about, whether you want it or not.
If you want help getting unstuck and working on your attitude, I offer private one-hour coaching sessions. This is a great opportunity to look at where you are holding yourself back and playing small. Book your free session here.
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