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Attitude 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, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, 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 everyday 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% of how I react to it.
And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.
~ Charles R. Swindoll
Often, we blame ourselves or others when situations make us feel uneasy. But if we learn to discern rather than judge, we begin to see our difficult feelings for what they really are.
Judgment is like cholesterol: There's a "good" kind and a "bad" kind. My friend Angela calls the good kind of judgment "discernment." She calls the bad kind "the enemy of love." "It doesn't matter what situation I go into," she once told me while suffering through a spell of the bad kind. "I can always find something wrong with it. If it's not the weather, it's people's clothes or the way they're talking. Whatever it is, I hate it." You can't win with your inner judge: It even judges itself for judging.
Sometimes that judgmental state feels like a sword driven right into the delicate fabric of your consciousness. Any feelings of love or relaxation or peace that you might have been nurturing are chopped to bits. Whether you're judging others or yourself, it's impossible to aim negative judgments in any direction without experiencing the sharp edges of judgment within yourself. Doubly so, in fact, since the faults we judge most harshly in other people usually turn out to be our own negativities projected outward.
Linda, a gifted and intelligent woman, has a rebellious streak that she's been trying to suppress for years. When she was in graduate school, she was caught shoplifting and nearly lost her job as a teaching assistant. In later years, she liked to engage in sexual brinkmanship—intense flirtations with much younger men, many of them her students. Nowadays, she prides herself on her ability to spot hidden lawlessness in others. She once drove a colleague out of her teaching position by spreading rumors about the colleague's affair with the father of a student. She'll say, with a straight face, that her sense of purity is so powerful that it will always point out the impurity in the people around her. It doesn't seem to occur to her that the "impurity" she sees in others mirrors behavior she rejects in herself.
Of course, I'm being judgmental here, and what's more, taking a certain satisfaction in it. That's the problem: Unleashing our inner judge can give us a quick hit of superiority. We feel smart when we can wield a skillful insight or pinpoint our parents' mistakes or the pretenses of our friends, teachers, and bosses. Moreover, judgment fuels passions—a sense of injustice, sympathy for the underdog, the desire to right wrongs. It gets us off the couch and into action. For many of us, judgment and blame are a kind of emotional caffeine, a way of waking ourselves from passivity.
Recently, I was leading a group exercise to dissolve negative emotions in meditation. One participant worked with her judgments about the Iraq war and then shared that when she examined the energy inside those feelings, she could feel its toxicity. Judgment, she realized, could actually make her sick. "The problem is," she said, "that I don't know how I'll generate the passion to do my political work without those feelings of judgment."
It's a good observation, and one that every one of us who decides to work through judgmental tendencies has to address. After all, the critical intellect is indispensable. The absence of critical feedback is what creates tyrants, dictators, and bad decisions. Without discernment, we mistake emotional heat for real love, and states of mindless trance for meditation. Discernment—or viveka, as it's called in Sanskrit—is also the quality that will ultimately allow us to make the subtle spiritual decisions about what we truly value, what will make us happy, and which of our many competing inner voices are important.
As we get ready for the day -- showering, getting dressed, etc. -- we tend to criticize ourselves and our bodies harshly. While we may feel the negative effects of our thoughts in the moment, more often than not, we criticize ourselves without really paying attention to what we are doing. And although it makes us feel bad, we continue to focus on things we dislike about ourselves. Sometimes, in a feeble attempt to find relief from our own disapproval, we might prompt others to disagree or contradict us as we offer comments such as... "My legs are too skinny, I'm getting fat, I'm getting old, etc...Don't you think?" Unfortunately, even when they, our partners included, are completely honest about what they love about us, we often still doubt our own beauty and worth.
Given that what we continually repeat about ourselves becomes a habit which forms our beliefs, it is no wonder that we have difficulty loving and accepting ourselves. It also doesn't help that we are inundated by ads, the media and peer pressure to look a certain way. But if we are to begin to love and accept the worthy and beautiful person that we are, we must make the decision to begin changing the way we talk about and judge ourselves.
Think about it, if you took a child and constantly berated them, it certainly wouldn't take long before that child came to think of themselves as unworthy. Unworthy of what, though? While this often shows up in areas of our lives like feeling unworthy of a job, a promotion, or a relationship, at the heart of this unworthiness is the belief that we are unworthy of love. The truth is, you are NEVER unworthy of love, but continually repeating negative thoughts about yourself can lead you to believe that this is true about you. Once you become aware of this belief, you can then begin to work on changing your negative self-defeating habits regardless of where they originated.
Now, you might argue that the comments you make about yourself are true, but tell your body long enough what is wrong with it and it will conform to your pattern of thinking. However, begin to affirm, focus, and act on what you like about your body and, with time, you will begin to feel better about yourself. Keep up this pattern until it becomes a new habit and your body will eventually respond to your new beliefs.
The idea is to begin with at least one thing you like about yourself and to focus on and praise that thing as often as you think about it. For example, "I love my eyes, I have pretty hands, etc." Even if there is only one positive thing you can accept about yourself, begin at once to praise that thing. Do it in such a way that each time you praise yourself, it is as though you were talking to a child you truly love. The more you praise that child, the more that child responds and comes alive. In the interim, be patient, loving and kind. Then, take an action that reinforces the positive thing you are affirming. For example, if you are working on accepting your eyes, you might wear sunglasses or make-up that adds to your feeling good about your eyes.
Once you have accepted one positive thing about yourself, hold onto your new thought and move onto the next one until little by little, you have formed a new habit of loving and accepting of yourself. Remember, the more positively you talk to yourself, the more of a habit it becomes which leads to greater feelings, actions, and better results, including the feeling of being worthy of love.
This process works with the Law of Attraction in that what you focus upon with your thoughts and feelings you draw more of into your life. To those things you have a difficult time with, understand that as you come to love (accept) yourself more and more, your body will either shift to match your new thoughts about yourself, or you will be guided to find a way of making any changes necessary to move you towards the more loving image you are affirming.
So, do you want to feel better about yourself? Do you want to learn to love and accept yourself more? Then get started today by turning those negative thoughts and habits about yourself into a love and acceptance of the worthy and beautiful person that, in truth, is you.
Ruth Burton is a Personal Relationship Coach and writer whose life experience inspired within her a passion for assisting others in creating authentic relationships by living their truth in all areas of their lives. Ruth's coaching is based on her many years of experience with the Law of Attraction and other spiritual teachings. For more information, check out her blog or services by visiting http://HeartAspirationsCoaching.com
Tips to Help Keep a Temper in Check The Wall Street Journal, www.wsj.com
Most anger-management programs use techniques borrowed from cognitive-behavioral therapy to help people deal with anger. Here are some strategies to help keep negative emotions in check.
• Reframe the situation. Instead of seeing every inconvenience or frustration as a personal affront, imagine a benign explanation.
• Find a constructive solution to the issue at hand. "Ask yourself: what do I need to be okay right now?," suggests Rich Pfeiffer, a psychologist and board president of the National Anger Management Association, a group of about 300 practitioners. "That shifts the focus from how the other person needs to be punished to how I need to respond in a healthy way."
• Keep an "anger log" to monitor what makes you angry. Learn to identify and avoid your triggers.
• Be aware that anger tends to rise in increments. Learn to evaluate yours from 1 (frustration) to 10 (rage). If you can catch yourself at 3 or 4, you can think more rationally about the situation.
• If you feel a blowup coming on, give yourself a time-out before acting on it. "Wait 15 minutes before you say something, or an hour before you send an email. Keep your options open," says Pauline Wallin, a psychologist in Camp Hill, Pa., and author of "Taming Your Inner Brat." "If it's not going to be important in an hour, then let it go. It's not worth getting angry about."
• Get a health checkup. Medical problems such as diabetes, chronic pain, low testosterone and low estrogen, can make people very irritable. Anger, either repressed or unleashed, can cause medical problems too. Some 30,000 heart attacks each year are triggered by momentary anger, according to a 2004 Harvard study.
• Be aware of how you talk to yourself. "If you keep saying how awful this is and making yourself feel alike a victim, you will get more angry," says Dr. Wallin.
• Don't ruminate on past affronts or injustices.
• Recognize patterns. "So often, people will say, 'I'm just like my father—my father got angry'," says Dr. Pfeiffer. "You don't have to go back into their childhoods and deal with that. You just have to work on how to respond effectively now."
• Calculate what your anger is costing you. Many people with anger problems think anger gives them an edge, and establishes superiority. "Instead, you just look like an idiot," says Leon Ingram, founder of Chicago-based angermgmt.com.
• Don't use alcohol to "calm" yourself. Alcohol lowers your inhibitions so you are more likely to do or say something you'll regret later.
• Get physical, without fists. When your primitive brain senses a threat, it sets off the "fight or flight" cascade of hormones. Opt for flight instead of fight and burn off the extra adrenaline and cortisol with exercise. Even a brisk walk will help calm you down.
• The ultimate lesson: Pay more attention to the important things in life and recognize that most frustrations, inconveniences and indignities are trivial and temporary.
Where do genuine self-love and self-acceptance come from? We get these things by soaking up all the affirmation our parents give us when we're little. Also, our parents model their good self-worth to us. What happens, though, if our parents didn't give us what we needed? Are we doomed to forever feeling inadequate or unworthy if our folks were neglectful toward us or unaccepting of themselves?
The good news is that a person can develop self-love at any stage of life. Like learning a language, it's easier to do as a child but it's absolutely possible to do as an adult, using the following ten steps:
1. The first step is to recognize that any neglect, abuse or lack of protection you experienced as a child had nothing to do with you and everything to do with your parents' limited capacity for giving love. If your parents mistreated you it was not an indication of your inadequacy but rather, of their failings as parents. It is a mistake to judge yourself based on their poor parenting. Too many people walk around with the incorrect assumption that they are undeserving of love, success or happiness today because they failed to please their parents. The truth is, good parents love and accept their children regardless of their behavior or attributes. In fact, everyone deserves good things in life, regardless of whether or not they had adequate parenting.
2. The second step is to grieve the loss of what you didn't receive as a child, and begin to give yourself all the love, care and support you needed then and still need, today. In this way, you can start letting go of your past and being there for yourself. You'll become your own "good parent" by making some time each day to engage in supportive and affirming self-talk.
3. Thirdly, take a good, clear look at the choices you've been making; forgive yourself for your mistakes and set your intention to make better choices in the future. Self-esteem isn't about complacency or leniency toward yourself but about compassion. An attitude of laziness or irresponsibility won't help you develop self-esteem, but striving to be a better person will.
4. In the fourth step, you must recognize your negative self-talk. The judgments and criticisms we receive as children are internalized and become the "inner critic" whose negative messages are so familiar that often, they're unrecognizable. You'll need to begin identifying all the things you say to yourself that undermine your self-confidence and self-acceptance. One such way is to ask yourself, "Would I talk to anyone else like this?" When you recognize the messages of the inner critic, you can begin to contradict them, one by one. Remember, nobody needs to be perfect, and that being good enough is good enough!
5. The fifth step is to trust yourself that you have what it takes to live your best life and to handle each challenge as it arises. Self-trust leads to confidence, and greater self-esteem.
6. The sixth step is to face your challenges head-on. Avoiding difficulties leads to a sense of helplessness, which develops into anxiety and shame. Dealing with your challenges leads to a sense of mastery, and pride in your accomplishments.
7. The seventh step is standing up for yourself in your relationships and letting the important people in your life know what you really need and feel. Confrontation might be scary, but it will separate out your true friends from your false ones. Improving your good relationships and walking away from the bad ones will make you feel empowered and will heighten your sense of self-worth.
8. Being a genuine person is a necessary eighth step in developing self-worth. If you put on a persona, no-one can know or love the real you. If you are genuine, you'll experience esteem-building love and affirmation from the people who are close to you.
9. Self-soothing is the ninth step: You need to be able to comfort and reassure yourself when things are difficult. If you can't do this, you'll end up using food, alcohol or other addictions to self-soothe. These choices will create shame, whereas constructive self-soothing will build self-confidence and self-love.
10. Being a self-centered, thoughtless or greedy person won't enable you to feel good about yourself. On the other hand, being kind, generous and patient with others will benefit them and enable you to feel good about yourself. Being a loving and giving person is the tenth and final step in building genuine self-acceptance.
(C) Marcia Sirota MD 2010 Marcia Sirota MD is a psychiatrist and psychotherapist practicing in Toronto Canada. Her areas of interest include overcoming compulsive eating and other addictions, unblocking creativity and healing PTSD. She is the founder of the Ruthless Compassion Institute, which is dedicated to promoting the philosophy of Ruthless Compassion. http://www.ruthlesscompassioninstitute.com
While reading an entry on a great inspirational blog I recently discovered (ABeautifulRippleEffect.com) entitled “Am I Enough?” I got to thinking. This idea of who we are and if we’re “enough” is an interesting one and has come into play quite a bit in my life of late. I am in the midst of major personal changes and am always wondering who I really am and what path I am meant to travel in this life. This is heady stuff.
I have also been struggling with an increasing and now crippling fear of flying which is being put to the test next month since I am traveling with my family to attend my niece’s high school graduation in Michigan. Added to the many other stresses and concerns in my life at the moment, this trip has taken on paramount importance as the date continues to loom closer and my anxiety grows.
To try to combat this phobia I have been exploring the Emotional Freedom Technique. For those who aren’t familiar with it, EFT is an alternative therapy for dealing with phobias, anxieties, and other psychological issues by tapping on acupuncture points to affect the body’s energy field while also focusing on specific issues you want to change.
While at a friend’s house not too long ago, I was introduced to the technique by another guest and she walked me through it, having me visualize some calming images and repeatedly saying things like, “I love to fly,” “Flying is fun,” “I can fly anywhere,” etc. I have to say that I actually did feel a bit calmer and less anxious after we went through the exercise a few times. But my flight was still many months away at that point so I didn’t keep it up.
Now that my trip is getting closer, though, I figured I should get back to this technique as my anxiety has increased again. This time I found another variation of EFT online and this one suggested using a different affirmation: “Even though I have this fear of _____, I deeply and completely accept myself.” I loved this one!
As I performed the tapping of the acupuncture points and repeatedly said those words, “I deeply and completely accept myself,” a calm came over me. These words in and of themselves had such an affect on me. It seems like a no-brainer. Of course, I should deeply and completely accept myself. Shouldn’t we all? What a terrific reminder! I hope the tapping and affirmations eventually help to make my flight less stressful. But even if they don’t, just being reminded to accept myself with all my fears, idiosyncrasies, challenges, etc., made this exercise well worthwhile!