How to Change Your Attitude and Supercharge Your Results
First, become aware of your mood.
Are ya’ feelin’ good today or are ya’ feelin’ bad? Do you feel like taking on the world or would you rather hide under the couch? Remember, a bad mood will make you as productive as a sloth and a good one can make you float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. In other words, when you’re feeling down it’s time to take corrective steps.
Next, acknowledge that you have control over your emotional states.
This is a breakthrough insight for a lot of people. Most of us sleepwalk through our lives, moving aimlessly in no particular direction and with no awareness of why we do what we do or feel what we feel. It never occurs to us that we may actually do something to relieve our psyches of the torment we so frequently experience.
Focus: What are you paying attention to?
Are you thinking about the stack of bills at home, how much you hate your job, your crummy relationship with your spouse? You got a bad haircut, you need a new car, the kid you’re putting through college is more interested in smoking pot and chasing women than studying and your Elhew-bred English Pointer came up lame a week before hunting season opens. Or worse yet, your band sucks! Come on, Eeyore, expect more from yourself and the world around you! Look for something to brighten your day! Change your focus!
Sure, sometimes it’s not easy to find the silver lining. But there’s always one there, you just have to choose to find it. And if you choose with the expectation finding something to feel good about, to feel grateful for, you most certainly will. And it will be worth the effort–but you already know that.
Okay; the tent is packed without too much effort and some pretty empowering results. And with this knowledge in hand you decide it’s time to tear down that mansion that’s been sitting in the middle of the road that leads to your happiness and success. This is going to require a bit more work but changing an attitude that’s impeding your personal growth can be life changing.
Let’s begin with a couple of steps that led to a productive mood change. Awareness is a good place to start.
While Rudy was acutely aware that something was wrong with his outlook toward life he believed it was the logical result of his abusive upbringing. The thought of changing it never occurred to him until a friend told him how much he envied some of his qualities; but the friend added an eye-opening caveat:
“Rudy, I remember when I first met you. Here I am, the short, fat, bald guy and in you walk; I think ‘This guy’s got it all! He’s good looking, he’s smart, he knows how to talk to people.’ And over the years I’ve watched you stand in front of a camera and do commercials, write a newsletter and I just keep thinking, ‘This guy’s got it all!’ And then I remind myself: if I gotta take the attitude to get the rest of the package I think I’ll just be satisfied with short, fat and bald.”
This new awareness alone was enough to cause Rudy to begin taking control of his reactions toward people and circumstances that spawned negativity.
Whenever he felt anger welling up inside him he consciously chose to think differently. In so doing he was creating new, empowering neural pathways; at the same time, his previous disempowering pathways were atrophying from lack of use. In other words, Rudy was creating a new habit.
In a few weeks he began to reap the rewards of his new mindset.
He was more cordial toward his coworkers, more productive and less stressed. But he knew that he’d spent over 30 years full of hate and resentment and feared that his new paradigm could not withstand the power of such deeply ingrained thought. He knew intuitively that his new way of thinking was simply a few broken windows in the mansion; to raze it would require much more than pelting it with stones. He needed to shatter the beliefs that supported the attitude and later in chapter 15 we witness the demolition.
He was thinking specifically about the attitude that had cost him so much in the past when he asked himself,
“Just what was my attitude all those years? What were my thoughts? What was my focus?”
The answers to his questions came spewing forth as if from a rupture in a sewage holding tank. The stench of the truth was so foul Rudy had to steady himself by grabbing hold of the edge of the kitchen table.
“Honey! Are you going to be okay?” Kate asked.”Oh shit, Mama; what are you doing here?”
Rudy didn’t know if he was more embarrassed by his revelation or his reaction to it; for a moment he thought he might vomit.
“What’s wrong, Rudy?”
“Oh God,” Rudy replied, “I can’t believe what I just saw. It was a nightmare but I still haven’t awoke from it. And I never will; it wasn’t a dream, it was real!”
Kay had warned Rudy that the process of rediscovering himself would at times be painful. But his reaction to whatever was causing him such pain surprised her.
“Rudyâ€”tell me what you’ve seen!” she pleaded.
“I asked myself, ‘What exactly was the attitude that had cost me so much?’ I just realized that I held nearly everyone in the world in contempt. Every time I met someone, thought about their race, religion or ethnic background I condemned them.I knew there were people who were smarter than me but I rarely met them. I knew there were people who were better looking than me but almost never saw them.”
“Mama, if you’d have come in here yesterday and charged me with those crimes against humanity I’d have called you crazy and defended my self image as a kind and compassionate man. But I just realized that there is a vile being that is sharing my mind and body; I feel like it’s been sucking my essence in order to spew hate and anger. I’d really like to deny that this person is me but I know that is not the case.”
After some probing questions from his mother Rudy came to realize that the hate he felt for people in general was a projection of the hate he felt for himself.
He was appalled and revolted by his attitude, so much so that he discarded it at that moment! The discovery was an epiphany; it marked a new beginning for Rudy as his journey could now proceed without the baggage that had held him back for so long. It was the most important event of his personal growth journey to date.
We find a second example of the power of awareness in chapter 17. Rudy had just received a lesson on the importance of ‘focus’ from Kay and before she left gave her an update on the problem with his boss at work. Andrew spent an hour in Russell’s office telling him exactly how his behavior (which we now know was driven by an attitude) was affecting the employees at the Toyota store, particularly the salesmen. When they finished a contrite, distraught and tearful Russell addressed his sales force.
“Russell apologized profusely to all of us and said he never meant to harm or offend anyone. He said he loved us like brothers and would never treat us like that again. ‘I’ll be leaving the store as soon as we’re finished here and I won’t be back for a whileâ€”if ever,’ he said. And then, Mama, he said something that nearly knocked me out of my chair. He said ‘I had no idea how much I was hurting you guys’.” Kay finally spoke.
“Why do you think that had such an impact on you,” she asked.
“Mama, you remember that day in the kitchen when I suddenly realized what exactly my attitude was?”
“Of course I do,” she replied.
“Mama; It was like looking at myself in the kitchen. Like me, he was clueless as to the damage his attitude was causing not only to the people around him, but to himself as well! I watched Russell ‘get it’.”
“My heart broke for him; I wanted to get up and hug the man I’d come to despise and tell him I understood what he was going through and that he was going to be okay now. That ‘mirror thing’ you talked about; Russell believed that everyone he encountered was worthy only of his contempt and disdain. Which means that he must have felt that he was worthy only of contempt and disdain.”
Russell left the dealership and did not return for a month. When he did he was a changed man; the abuse was virtually nonexistent and when it did rear its head he would quickly realize where he was headed and get back on a productive path. Rudy could sense the start-stop nature of Russell’s behavior and admired his efforts to leave his old attitude in the trash bin. In a few months Rudy would experience his own catharsis and begin having the same sensations himself.
In both of these examples the effects of the disempowering attitudes were extreme.
And ridding themselves of their poisonous mindsets had significant effects on Russell’s and Rudy’s behaviors. But what if you want to change your attitude toward something more mundane than the entire human race–like money?
It’s hard to believe that something so universally desired can be the root of so many bad attitudes. Financial guru Loral Langemeier states that the #1 problem of 80% of the people she counsels is their attitude toward money.Who doesn’t dream of nicer clothes and cars and houses and vacations and college for the kids and just plain not having to worry about if there’s enough to pay the bills? I’ll tell you who–people who have enough! But most of us don’t.
And we look at all our unfulfilled desires, and our friends and neighbors who have all the stuff, and we think about the arguments and worry, and we feel guilty for not being a good enough provider, and we build this great big ball of guilt and frustration. And since we don’t want to take the blame ourselves we look for a culprit and what do we find? Money. Man, we gotta do something about this attitude!
Step 1: become aware of your attitude about money.
Assuming it’s not as empowering as you’d like it to be spend some time thinking about what your attitude is costing you, both financially and emotionally. In another segment I discuss pain and pleasure and now would be a good time to make some appropriate associations; how much pain is your attitude about money causing you? Go ahead, make it hurt! How much pleasure would you experience if you began feeling good about money? Take some time with this; go away and come back later to finish this article if you have to. Want some help?
- How many arguments? Did the kids hear you fighting?
- How much embarrassment?
- How many phone calls?
- How many sleep-deprived nights?
- How much liquor?
- How much guilt?
- How much self esteem deflation?
How would it look, how would it feel, if all that stuff went away?
Step 2: take responsibility for changing your attitude.
Your attitudes toward money (like most attitudes) were likely instilled via osmosis. Parents, socio-economic standing and religion are all credible sources for a youngster forming opinions about anything. But you’re not a youngster. You are an adult who is responsible for your reality and your reality is created by your beliefs. Those that don’t server your best interest need to be changed and the best way to change a belief is to…
Step 3: discredit it by finding references to support a contrary, empowering belief.
For example, here’s the all-time A#1 disempowering belief about money:
Belief: “Money is the root of all evil.”
That’s one of the great misquotes of all time and only religious fanatics believe it anyway. And by the way, the real quote, according to King James, is “For the love of money is the root of all evil…” 1 Timothy 6:10.
Anthony Robbins helped me (via cassette tape) become aware of some the beliefs that formed an attitude I had about myself. He instructed me to take a few minutes and write down all the disempowering beliefs about myself that I could think of. I then proceeded to flagellate myself (took responsibility for changing my attitude) thusly:
- I don’t finish anything I start.
- I’m lazy.
- I’m an underachiever.
- I never move beyond mediocrity.
- If I quit smoking I’ll just start again.
- Enough is good enough.
- I’m not worthy of success.
- To be proud of what I accomplish is vain.
Of the eight beliefs I quickly found evidence to the contrary (discredited) for three of them. Three more were true for only one area in my life. The remaining two; ouch! I’m going to have to work on that!
The walls should be tumblin’ down by now as you’ve dealt a severe blow to the foundation of your disempowering attitude. The final step is an ongoing one; like a recovering alcoholic you must be ever vigilant of old patterns repeating themselves. Monitor your thoughts and when the negative ones associated with your old beliefs come sneaking back into your psyche show them the door! It takes time for those new neural pathways to build while the old ones fade away. But with persistence, diligence and faith in your own ability to control how you think victory will be yours.
Attitudes are the glasses through which we see and evaluate the world around us. A well-made set of lenses will produce an accurate picture, allowing us to interact in a way that is beneficial to us and the object of our attitude. Inaccurate beliefs and the negative feeling they produce will cloud our lenses and cause us to do things counterproductive to our best interests and possibly cause harm to others in the process.
Your attitude toward world around you, self included, will be the most important evaluation you ever make.
If your world is fearful and angry you will approach it defensively and full of trepidation. And the results you get will likely reflect your “take”, leaving you frustrated, disappointed or angry. On the other hand, if you see the world as accommodating, full of opportunity and just and fair in how it rewards people you are likely to be quite pleased with the results of your efforts. Always remember-we tend to get what we expect.
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