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Attitudes:  Everybody has One

Negativism isn’t a philosophy, it is an attitude.  I remember hearing once, “if I didn’t have bad luck I wouldn’t have any luck.”  One of the best ways to make something happen is to say it will happen.  Man is what he believes, his thoughts and attitudes affect his internal chemistry.  “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference” (Winston Churchill).  A winning attitude is a self-confident attitude.

Your attitude is a state of your mind that effects your emotions, which effects your performance. Attitude is your predisposed state of mind that is formed from your past and present.  Your attitude is complex and is an acquired state learned through your experiences.  It is the mental and emotional entity that characterizes you, that psychological construct tied to your emotions, which effects your behavior.

Attitude may also be referred to as mood or your disposition.  The term is a reflection of and related to your self-concept or self-image, self-esteem or self-respect, self-worth or self-value, self-efficacy and self-confidence or your situational and global view of yourself, all reflective in your behavior.

Attitude has been found to be a greater predictor of success than IQ (Dweck, 2016).  So how can you turn a negative attitude into a positive one so that you can enhance success?  You must first start with enhancing your self-perception.

To enhance your self-perception, you must be able to find something that you can do to experience the feelings associated with success.  You are your worst critic.  Find something good about your performance and a way to feel good about the steps you are taking to improve yourself.  Then work at improving along each step.  Use imagery to help you to see yourself be successful.  Learn arousal regulation techniques to decrease those feelings of an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, nervousness, and anxiety.  Remember, anxiety produces fear and changes the way you see yourself.

Teaching things you will be discussing each meeting day not only helps people to be more successful in producing the performance they want, but in turn develops a higher self-perception, which leads them to developing a better attitude.  This is one reason why it is so important to teach positive/successful imagery outcomes.  With arousal regulation, better decisions are made, which lead to a better performance, leading to enhanced self-perception and attitude.

What events stress you and change your attitude to negative?  How would you feel if you had to get up and do one of them now?  No, seriously, you really had to do it….play the piano, do a back handspring, jump out of an airplane, get yelled at by your boss, clean your house, or give a speech???  How would you feel?  Where would your attitude go?

Example:  I don’t like roundabouts…they stress me out, especially in the dark.  Not long ago I was driving in an unfamiliar area and my GPS showed a roundabout 6.3 miles down the road.  Immediately my hands were gripping the steering wheel, my knuckles were so tight, my thoughts went negative and my entire attitude toward where I was headed negatively changed.  Plus I started to question why I was going and questioned myself about where I was, not trusting myself or the nav!  Once I ‘gotta grip’  I immediately started laughing because I realized what was going on, realized the physiological, mental, and emotional changes and knew I had the ability to get back to that positive, excited feeling of where I was headed!  A couple of deep breaths and some laughter changed it all!!

How do you change negative to positive?  Just like I did, you adjust your attitude, or by technical terms, you go through cognitive restructuring.   Remember that your thoughts, feelings, and emotions have an instantaneous and involuntary effect on the muscles of your body, affecting your ability to perform.  You can train the brain to consistently achieve the ideal attitude through goal setting, affirmations, thought stopping, positive self-talk and subliminal reinforcement.

In order to change a negative attitude to shiny, positive attitude, start with self-talk.  Self-talk is any self-statement or thought.  One of the most efficient and effective ways of building a winning attitude is through the use of affirmations.  Affirmations are those brief, positive statements confirming and supporting you and your goal.  Be personal and positive, use present tense, phrase your affirmations as if you have already accomplished them.  Change yourself not others, do not compare yourself to anyone, use action words- the things you want to do, be realistic but stretch yourself, use feeling words, avoid and eliminate negative words.

Your affirmations may not necessarily be statements of current reality, but they are the images If your accomplished goals.  First you must establish realistic, achievable goals…which are discussed in the Goal Setting Section…..then you are ready to create your effective set of affirmations.

Use I, me, my in your affirmation.  Statements like ‘I consistently strive to perform at the highest level of my potential’….’I am confident in my ability to be selected as team leader’….’I am in ideal physical and mental condition’…..’I stay focused on my goals and I am unaffected by the behavior of others’….’I am tenacious about doing my very best’…..’I take charge of my thoughts’…..’I have the self-discipline needed to…’....’I love the feeling I get from giving a speech.’  Avoid and eliminate statements that start with I can/I will/I always/I never.

Affirmations do not have to be believed but they do have to be believable and repeated often.  When stated and repeated with feeling they have the power to stimulate goal oriented action and focus attention on the successful mastery of critical tasks and skills.  If you make a habit to say your affirmations aloud at least once every day, you will be amazed at the positive effect that affirmations have on your life, your attitude and your performance.

Affirmations are a part of self-talk.  So let’s look at how self-talk works.


The Man in the Glass

When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what that man has to say.

For it isn’t your father, or mother, or wife
Whose judgment upon you must pass
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.

He’s the fellow to please – never mind all the rest
For he’s with you, clear to the end
And you’ve passed your most difficult, dangerous test
If the man in the glass is your friend.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
And get pats on the back as you pass
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass. 

Your thoughts and feelings about yourself as a person or about your abilities in a particular achievement domain are important in how you view yourself which will lead to your attitude and observed in your behavior and words.  Think about when you miss an important event because you forgot.  What self-talk to you hear?  “What an idiot I am.”  Do you feel anger, hopelessness, increased muscle tension? Or, do you think how silly you are for missing the event and think to yourself, “I am going to write it on the calendar next time!”  Thoughts like this enhance better concentration, optimism, and calmness.

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.  Attitude, to me is more important than facts.  It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than success, than what other people think or say or do.  It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill.  It will make or break a company…a church…a home.  The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.  We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.  We cannot change the inevitable.  The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.” ~Charles Swindoll

How do you react to life events?  Where is your attitude?  Can you change your negative to positive?  By changing your thoughts, you can change your attitude and behaviors.  Negative or self-depreciating thoughts most often lead to negative feelings and poor performance.  Positive thoughts/positive feelings are most often associated with good performance.  Once you gain awareness of your thoughts and internal dialogues, you are ready to begin the efforts to eliminate the negative and accentuate the positive.  Start with thought stopping.  Realize there is a negative thought and see a red stop sign.  Then change the negative to a positive.  To dilute the impact of negative self-talk – establish a habit of negative thought stopping.  Each time you are aware of negative, unwanted, self-depreciating or unproductive thoughts or verbalizations try this: STOP, take a deep breath and relax, say a positive affirmation and take a break…pause/time-out.  Practice it every time.  Remember, affirmations are powerful tools because they shape and focus our self-talk.  The more we can influence our self-talk the more we can influence our attitude.