Change Your Attitude
“We cannot change our past. We can not change the fact that people act in a certain way. We can not change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.”
Charles R. Swindoll
“I’m such a loser”, “I know I’ll never be any good”, “I’m so stupid”, “No one will ever love me”. How often do you tell yourself that you’re not good enough, or judge yourself inadequate?
How you think about yourself reflects how you act. So this year, resolve to act differently -- develop a new attitude for 2010 – this would not only be a gift to others, it would be a wonderful gift to yourself.
That’s the topic of this month’s newsletter: How To Develop A New Attitude.
How we think about ourselves generally stems from childhood. A child hears adults comment: “You’re so pretty” “You’re too fat” “You’re stupid” and similar remarks. Positive comments lead to confidence and esteem. But when you are told you’re not good enough, or you notice that you’re not measuring up to the others around you, you develop negative beleifs about your capabilities. These judgments become automatic.
When you judge yourself harshly, your self-esteem and confidence takes a downward spiral. This doesn’t have to happen in all areas of your life, but if you lose confidence in a particular area, it can transfer to other areas as well. Personal growth comes from taking on new challenges.
When you stay in your comfort zone, you become fearful of getting out. This creates anxiety, when new demands are made on you. You tell yourself, “I can’t”, “I don’t want to do this”, “I’ll make an idiot of myself” – that type of thing. These negative messages not only lead to anxiety, but you can actually make yourself sick with worry. This anxiety is self created, based on the your own judgments, not based on reality.
Just as you encourage others to be positive or take on new ventures, you also have to encourage yourself. I often use the example of a skier in an important race. Would skiers be thinking ‘I’m not as good as the other racers’, 'I know I’m going to lose'. You bet they’re not. They’re totally focused on winning the race – whether they’re capable of doing it or not.
Notice what you say to yourself and change it. Ex. If you tell yourself “ I’m so stupid, how could I have forgotten my keys.” You don’t have to call yourself stupid. Everyone forgets occasionally (and if you forget more than most, develop a habit of putting things in the same place, or check before you leave the house). The keys won’t magically appear because you call yourself names. Frustration is a normal reaction, but what’s done is done, move on.
If you’re presented with a challenge, take it on. Don’t tell yourself anything
– I can’t, I shouldn’t, I’ll never…. How do you know you can’t? Take it on!! If you want to change your attitude, take the challenge. We learn from experience and we also learn from failure, so you're in a win-win situation.
Tips for Attitude Change
1) Notice when you judge yourself or others
2) Ask yourself when these judgments started
3) Encourage yourself with your successes
4) Shift from anger to trust
5) Give up being a victim of your own abuse
6) Don’t compare yourself with others
7) Don’t attribute what you believe others are thinking about you
8) Recognize your strengths and build on them
9) Don’t envy, be grateful for what you have
10) Don’t resist challenge, open yourself to the new experience.
Embrace change. Trying something new leads to change. If you don’t try anything new and you’ll stay the same, so do yourself a favor, make this year, your year to change
Q & A
What is your clinical impression of how substance abuse can be viewed as a coping mechanism and as an indication of an underlying family issue. I have several alcoholics in my family. They all deny they have a "problem".
Answer: Hi Tracy,
The common view of substance abuse is that there's no one reason. There are different components: Biological -- there may be a genetic predisposition (alcoholic parent, grandparent etc)
Psychological—ex. you convince yourself that 'drinking is fun' etc.
Social – ex. if your friends and/or family members do it, you're one of the crowd.
Once you’ve developed a dependency, there is also no one reason that the alcoholic will drink. They drink to take the edge off or cope. They drink to celebrate. They drink when they're angry, sad etc. Anything can be a reason, but they’re not coping. They are escaping from the problem temporarily, but the issues don't go away.
Denial is a whole other issue. Alcoholics don't want to admit that drink controls them. They tell themselves, they can stop 'anytime'. They have a love/hate relationship with the drink, and blame everyone and everything for the reason they drink. They may also surround themselves with other drinkers, telling themselves that compared to their friends 'they are not that bad'.
A partner, family members, the police, their doctor etc., must give them an ultimatum where they have no choice to stop drinking. In AA language this is called hitting a bottom.
Here's a test to break denial
But,an alcoholic will remain in denial unless they’re confronted with the consequences of their behavior. If there was an alternative, an alcoholic would not choose to change.
I hope this answers your question
Next month: How To Perk Up Your Relationship
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