Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Disability of Bad Attitudes

In my work with individuals with developmental disabilities, I am continuously amazed by the ABILITIES these individuals have, and their positive attitudes despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles before them in living their lives. I am in awe of them, inspired by them, and honored to work with such a remarkable group of people.

When I saw the quote above by Scott Hamilton, I considered people who don't have physical disabilities but mental and emotional disabilities influencing their attitudes which shape their opinions about themselves, other people, and their own lives to the point of crippling them in living joyously, peaceful, drama-free, and harmonious lives. I believe in people more than they believe in themselves, and it saddens me to see people struggle in their lives as result of these crippling attitudes. I've learned I can't change anyone but myself.  I can only mind my own attitude to the extent of my willingness to be genuinely honest with myself, and only then can I experience and live peace and and harmony within me. In doing so, I experience a life of greater joy and happiness.

Attitude is everything, whether its about a job, our current political environment, family, our own bodies, and our perception of others; whether it's positive, negative, or one of victimization. Attitude shapes our reality. If you hold the attitude your job sucks, you will experience a sucky job. If you believe negatively of someone, you will live a reality that person is mean and hateful to you, whether that individual actually lives up to that belief or not. Our attitude shapes everything about our life, our outlook and perception through our eyes and our belief filters. Worse, it then reflects in the things we say, how we say it, our actions, choices and our behaviors.

Every day I mind my attitude through meditation, prayer, and affirmations. When I feel pulled down by others' lower altitudes of attitudes, I breathe deeply, and recenter in the highest altitude I know before reacting: God. Whether it's friends, family members, co-workers or strangers at Walmart, people show up positively, negatively, rudely, hatefully, threateningly, lovingly, etc. We can do nothing about how others show up and behave, but we can manage our own personal attitudes via our words and response/reaction to them. The higher the altitude of your attitude, the easier it is to let other people's stuff slide. Remember, these folks may be having a bad moment, a bad day, a bad relationship, or a bad life. It doesn't matter. What matters is how you and I take it on and/or respond to it; and if our attitude is genuinely, authentically in a higher altitude zone of positivity, love, and compassion, then their actions, words, choices, behaviors will slide off us like an egg slides on Teflon, thus making the whole deal a non-issue unworthy of reaction, response, future discussion, recycling, or stewing over.

The key is recognizing it in those moments, and doing an altitude check. Having a healthy sense of self, and an astute self-awareness makes it easier. Changing one's altitude of attitude is about being self aware, recognizing when we are feeling hooked into the lower altitudes belonging to someone else. If we get hooked, we must own it, and take responsibility for it. More often than not, people place the blame, responsibility of their actions, behaviors, choices off onto another person or situation, using that as their excuse for an overreaction, poor management, poor behavior or hurtful words. No one is responsible for what we do, say or how we act but you and me, the one's doing it. No ifs, ands, or buts. We must also consciously consider the impetus of our choices, behaviors, actions, or in some cases, non-actions, and address what is at the root of it. Usually, it's fear, insecurity, low self-esteem, anger, abandonment, self-judgment and/or blame projected onto another when it's really one's own self-perception at an unconscious level.

Additionally, sweeping these things under a rug, pretending whatever happened didn't, and moving on in a “forgive and forget” (a cop-out from owning responsibility, learning lessons and gleaning wisdom) effort doesn't shift the altitude of attitude. Responsibility must be owned and addressed, whether it involves another person or whether it's a conversation with one self, or both.  This effort facilitates healing, so that as appropriate, apologies may be issued, feelings acknowledged, hurts forgiven, and lessons learned to facilitate the shift to a higher altitude of attitude and awareness. It's from this place clarity is achieved, so in moving forward, better choices are made to improve one's life, and ultimately, one's altitude of attitude.

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