What is attitude? It is your outlook on the world. It is something that you choose. That’s right you choose what kind of attitude you want to have in this lifetime. How you react to a situation or event in your life shows your attitude. If you think you need help, here are 7 ways to change your attitude.
Your Attitude is Your Responsibility
Attitude is all about life or its challenges and how you respond to them. A positive attitude or outlook is something that may take constant work throughout life and this is a real challenge for most people. Working on your weaker reactions to life’s events can be beneficial and even purposeful towards having a meaningful life.
Where does your attitude develop from? Your attitude or outlook on the world is affected by the media, friends, caregivers and your upbringing which is based on our parents, siblings, influencers, and experiences. The people that you observed encouraged you to formulate your personal attitude.
Think of an example of when you went through something challenging but still had a good attitude. I will share a story with you. I remembered not getting the status of homecoming queen in high school. My best friend received the award. However, I still showed a good attitude and I was happy for her success.
Another example would be not getting a job that you applied and interviewed for, then bad-mouthing the company to others. Do you see the differences between having a positive attitude and a negative attitude in these examples? How can you change a poor attitude to be a more positive attitude? This is a difficult question to answer to some extent but it comes down to one thing.
Attitude is a Choice
Having a more positive attitude is about one thing called choice. Have you ever thought about the word: responsibility? Perhaps it is your personal ability to have a positive emotional response. If you look at it that way, you are empowered to choose your emotional reaction or attitude about situations in life. The ball is in your court, even if you come from an emotionally-reactive family or friends-circle, for example.
It is about getting quiet with yourself and not reacting right away to an event or situation. If your friend hurts your feelings, are you going to react right away and get angry then yell at your friend? Your feelings are the problem (aka opportunity) here: anger, upset, hurt…not your friend.
If you take time to shut down your reactive system, instead of shouting at your friend, you have time to take it all in. Take in the human experience because what matters is not who is right or wrong, it is how you manage your reaction.
Your Body and Your Attitude
What’s going on in your body when feeling emotions? Physiologically speaking, different things happen in the body. Perhaps your heart rate increases or your palms get sweaty. Maybe you feel a lack of motivation or a lot of motivation. Do you smile, frown, glare at someone automatically? Are you having muscles tense up unknowingly?
Adrenaline or calmness can be a physiological response depending on the emotion. Perhaps your breath increases or stays the same. Maybe you have an increase in your energy level or a decrease in your energy level. You might feel exhilarated, feel butterflies in your stomach or feel yourself not wanting to talk.
There are many physiological responses when you feel a certain emotion. That is why it is important for you to tune in and become aware of what your body is doing in order to understand what emotion you are feeling.
identify what is going on in your body.
Negative emotions such as anxiety, sadness, depression, hopelessness, fear, guilt, shame, and anger present bodily reactions. Positive emotions such as happiness, hopefulness, fearlessness, joyfulness, excitability, and pride also provide us with bodily reactions.
When you are anxious, do you get sweaty palms, tightness in your chest, butterflies in your stomach or a feeling like you want to vomit? If angry, do you get a feeling of your fists closing, your head pounding or your teeth clenching? Do you feel an emptiness in your gut, tears rolling down your face or tiredness you can’t explain when sad or depressed?
When you are happy and hopeful do you feel your cheeks tighten because of smiling? Do you feel more energy? Do you have lightness in your feet? When you are excited do you feel the urge to smile, jitters or butterflies in your stomach?
How do your emotions affect your emotional intensity? Emotions affect your ability to focus and concentrate. They also affect your responsiveness towards others. Some people do not show responsibility in their ability to give an effective emotional response.
Let’s talk about how you handle your emotions. The goal here is to identify the bodily sensations you feel from certain emotions and reflect on them in order to work through the emotions not to avoid or push them away.
You can benefit in understanding that suffering is a normal part of being human and there is a purpose in pain. Having negative emotions happens to everyone. By not pushing them away you can observe or become aware of the ways negative emotions make you feel. You now know that having experienced negative emotions, your emotional intensity, concentration, and communication could be affected.
Nonetheless, you want to identify emotional over-intensity or under-intensity in order to ensure that you are able to handle and cope in a responsible way. How do you do that?
Steps to Not Over or Under Reacting to Your Emotions
- Observe the situation you are in.
- Pay attention and become aware of your body’s sensations.
- Figure out what feelings you are feeling (i.e., upset, anger, sadness)
- Don’t do anything at all. Simply breath and stay quiet.
- Take as long as you need it. You might want to excuse yourself before you have any type of verbal reaction.
- Take time to reflect and come back later to the situation at hand.
- Address the situation with a positive attitude (i.e., calm tone of voice, assertive statements about your feelings, eye contact, ability to be open)
Ask yourself, how did you handle the situation? Could you have reacted to it in another way? What did you receive from handling it in a non-emotionally-charged, non-reactive way?
When you can manage your internal reaction, you will see a turn of events with external stimuli all around you. You will see the situation not as inflated or “bad” as it was.
By making the emotionally responsible choice you choose a positive emotional response. This further encourages you to see a different perspective. You become enlightened as a result.
Others around you might start responding in ways you did not think possible due to your care, non-reaction. Positive feelings and positive behaviors will shine through if you work to manage your emotional reaction. In turn, your attitude will remain uplifted and positive. One could say it is shining light on your spirit.