Your attitude determines how you view the world. It can be your greatest ally or your worst enemy. Your ability to cope rests heavily on how you choose to process life. You own the power to interpret your reality; consequently you get to chose how you are affected by your circumstance.
Your attitude is largely determined by what you were taught as a small child and how it was role-modeled in your life. Children that lived with highly anxious parents learned to see life through anxious eyes. Children who lived with parents who expected perfection learned to see the world in terms of perfection. Often they expected perfection out of themselves and those around them.
Let’s look at a few types of attitudes that can be created by distorted thinking styles. Determine if you fall into any of these types of attitudinal styles or thinking categories:
POLARIZED THINKING: Polarized thinkers are extremists. Things are always good or bad, black or white, right or wrong. These people are usually prone to wanting perfection and when that doesn’t occur it’s an automatic failure. They are tough on themselves and those around them. They have a hard time enjoying life.
PERSONALIZATION: People who personalize believe that the world is reacting to them. They are constantly comparing themselves, trying to determine who is more intelligent, more attractive, or more ambitious. They are in a competitive mode and even if you could coerce them to relax they would assume that the world was viewing them with critical eyes.
EMOTIONAL REASONING: People with low self-esteem experience life based on how they feel. If they don’t know their own potential they will respond to life from a “one down” position. They believe that what they feel must be true. If they feel stupid and inadequate, then they must be stupid and inadequate. Consequently, it keeps them from acknowledging their own potential.
CATASTROPHIZING: Catastrophizers expect the worst. When faced with a situation they consider the worst possible scenario and operate from their fears instead of the positive aspects of what life can bring. They are consumed with the ‘what-ifs’ and have difficulty enjoying life.
FILTERING: Filterers look at everything with a negative spin and exaggerate it. They filter out any positive aspects of a situation. They see only the negative and walk around with a ‘doom and gloom’ attitude. They can’t enjoy life because it has nothing to offer them.
BEING RIGHT: People who are consumed with always being right spend most of their time proving to others why their opinions and actions are correct. They have their own code of behavior that revolves around them. They appear argumentative, even when there is no disagreement.
Take a good hard look at these attitudinal/thinking styles. Have people complained that you are hard to live with because you approach life using one of these distortions? Changing your attitude or thinking style requires cognitive behavioral restructuring. To change your thinking, you must:
• Acknowledge an awareness of the distorted thought patterns.
• Have a desire to change or alter how you view the world.
• Employ a method to heighten your awareness.
• Develop a tool to measure your progress.
• Write down or repeat a positive thought each time you have a negative thought to effectively train or reshape your thinking.
Your attitude will greatly enhance your self-esteem and your relationships with others. A good attitude will teach you to look at life with a kinder, gentler approach. Having a positive attitude will create a more satisfying life. You get to make the choice.