Your Attitude Is Everything


It's not always easy to determine why other people have bad attitudes, but it's certainly easy to pick them out of a crowd. You could probably name half-a-dozen coworkers, relatives, or others you know with bad attitudes. It's easy to spot someone with a bad attitude. Unless, of course that someone is you. If you haven't been getting what you want out of life, if you feel stuck, overlooked, unappreciated, or unfulfilled, it could be that you picked up an attitude that is holding you back in your personal, professional and spiritual life. You might not see it in yourself, but you may have noticed that people around you respond differently to you. If your relationships with bosses, coworkers, clients or employees have changed for the worse, if your loved ones or friends don't treat you the same way, maybe it's not them. Maybe it's YOU!


The ability to recognize our feelings as they come over us is called self-awareness, and it is critical to our development in a highly mobile, fast changing, complex society. Self-awareness allows you to be aware of your emotions and attitudes. Knowing yourself and understanding what drives your emotions and attitude are the first steps to self-knowledge and self-control. If you remember the experiences that trigger a bad or destructive attitude, you can then work to disarm those triggers and even replace bad emotions with more constructive and empowering emotions to create a better attitude.

Self-awareness is very important. When you tell yourself I shouldn't be thinking this way, you are practicing self-awareness because you are monitoring your emotions and judging their potential impact. When you practice self-awareness, you give yourself far greater control of your actions. This control gives you options. You can decide not to react to negative emotions. Instead you can develop a positive attitude that allows you to let go of the emotion.

You can also channel the energy of the negative emotion into a positive action.

If you don't learn to control or re-channel a negative attitude, it can have a destructive impact on your life. It may have already happened. Do you become easily angered, impatient, insecure, or cynical for reasons you don't understand? Do other people tell you that you tend to overreact? Do you often find yourself wondering why you got so upset? So angry? So offended? It may be that you have an attitude that you need to examine and root out.


One of the most important steps you can take toward achieving your greatest potential in life is to learn to monitor your attitude and its impact on your work performance, on your relationships, and on everyone around you. In truth, people don't have a high level of attitude awareness. They'll know if they are hungry. They'll know if their feet hurt. They'll know if they are attracted to the person sitting across from them on the subway. But they usually don't have a good handle on their attitude. This is a mistake because, as the saying goes ''what goes around comes around''. It dictates the way you perceive the world and the way the world perceives you.


In order to do something about our bad attitude, we must first understand where it comes from. Often the most debilitating attitude we carry around is the result of old baggage from the past. As a result, some of us are jaded, resentful, angry, suspicious, and wary of change. Since the forces behind our baggage are buried so deep in our subconscious ''basement'', it makes it most difficult to understand and root out. It takes serious work to examine roots of a harmful attitude, but the rewards of ridding ourselves of this heavy baggage, can last a lifetime.


On a sheet of paper, make a list of the negative attitudes that may have held you back in the past. Beside each one, write down what you think the source of that attitude might be. What is the baggage and what does it contain? What past experiences? What hurt? What shame? What anger? What jealousy?

This can be a painful emotional exercise, so I advise you to go off by yourself somewhere or to ask someone who knows you well enough to help. A brother or sister, spouse, or parent might have the clues that you can't see. This is an unpacking experience. Sometimes you have to scrape hard, so don't be afraid. And don't run from what you find. It's part of who you are. There is nothing to be ashamed of. What's past is past. Root it out, recognize it, respect it. It's a part of your life you need to deal with.

Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself when unpacking you attitude, what influences it, and what impact it had or is currently having on your life.

1. How do you respond to stressful situations?

This is where a bad attitude can quickly quickly rise to the surface. When you are pressured to get something done, to perform at a higher level, or to meet high expectations, do you:

a. Get angry

b. Become depressed

c. Throw your arms up in despair

d. Get energized

Examine which of these responses is most similar to yours when you become stressed out. Then look why you respond in that manner. What attitude drives you to respond in that way?

Look at those chores or tasks that stress you out and think about what emotions or experiences might be contributing to that stress. This is very important, because stress is a killer, literally.

2. Do you tend to look at the world in a pessimistic way?

Pessimism is the outward expression of a bad attitude. If you always seem to find the downside of an otherwise positive situation, if you look for the dark lining in the silver clouds. If you see the glass half empty rather than half full, you too may be suffering from a bad-attitude-induced pessimism. Pessimists aren't much fun to be around. Or to be. They are dream killers.

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