Monday, March 30, 2015

Choose Your Attitude

The other day I was reminded of a time I was listening to my kids bickering. My youngest had run up to me and announced that her brother was making her upset. Difficult as it may be for a 4 year old to understand, I told her that she was choosing to be upset and she could respond in a different way! It may have confused her, but at least it stopped the bickering for a while.

It is so true that anything is possible if you have the mindset and attitudes that support your success. Many people spend a lot of time looking at the negatives in their lives – how they hate their jobs, their smoking or don’t want to be overweight. By conditioning yourself to concentrate on what you do want, positive results can be achieved – and quickly. What you hear and tell yourself on a consistent basis has an effect on your thinking and wellbeing – marketing people know this to be true and use it often to motivate people to buy. Similarly, people who praise you will build your confidence. Many of my coaching clients who are lacking in confidence have consistently been surrounded by negative talk – from others and then their own inner dialogue. This affects the world they are in and permeates into their mindset, becoming a negative belief that they then hold as true.

What you say is what you get! Often what we say to ourselves dictates our results in life. The good news is that we can make some choices to help us become more focused and bust our old beliefs. We need to raise our awareness of what we are telling ourselves – what stories we are running in our minds and like any new behaviour, we need to consciously make choices and control our inner voice, until it is replaced unconsciously with a positive voice. Here are some tips:
  • We can control our feelings through physiology – just by altering our posture. It is well known that exercise makes you feel happier and reduces the effects of stress – when we are down we reflect this in our body so check your posture and become aware!
  • Take pleasure in whatever you are doing, whether it is ironing or booking a holiday. For most people the latter holds more excitement and anticipation, however if you adopt the attitude of “I’m going to do a job and I’m going to do it well”, then choose to smile and allow yourself some satisfaction around it – isn’t it great to see that pile of freshly ironed clothes?
  • Write a list of what you do really well and make choices to repeat them in different situations
  • Learn to praise yourself for a job well done. Choose to praise yourself at least 10 times a day. When you catch yourself criticising your actions, stop and turn it around – ask yourself what you can take from the actions to become even more effective next time. Start noticing when you do things well and congratulate yourself for it. Sometimes it helps to congratulate yourself out loud – go on, do it, it works!
  • Make small, conscious changes in your behaviour to break a cycle. For instance, turn your mindset from “I don’t contribute at meetings” to just making a small observation or agreement or even a nod at the next meeting you are at – it’s all contribution, you don’t need to plan to contribute in a big way, you may be waiting for a perfect opportunity to chip in, that may not come and at the end of the meeting you will reinforce your belief that you don’t contribute. So small steps make big differences!
The really good news is that research at the University of Texas has found that having a positive attitude to life can delay the aging process – and that people with an upbeat view on life are less likely than pessimists to show signs of frailty.
I am reminded of Victor Frankl, the internationally renowned psychiatrist who endured years of horror at the hands of the Nazis, who lived to 92.
"We must never forget that we may also find meaning in life even when confronted with a hopeless situation, when facing a fate that cannot be changed. For what then matters is to bear witness to the uniquely human potential at its best, which is to transform a personal tragedy into a triumph, to turn one's predicament into a human achievement." 
Victor Frankl’s quote was a bit too much for my daughter – but she did go and tell her brother that she had chosen to cry – and it was his fault!  Still some more coaching to be done there.

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