A Good Attitude is a Real Attitude

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TruthFor as long as I can remember I’ve wrestled with my attitude. Some of this is Nature and some is Nurture. I’m a melancholy. There’s no getting around that. Much of my attitude is based on my feelings. Believe me, if you think it is hard being around me – you should try experiencing this from the inside. However, the other part of this is the way I was raised. I lived in a family where shaming, teasing, and not listening were the norm. I never really developed the skills to develop a healthy attitude or to appropriately wrestle with my feelings.

This has not been an easy issue for me. I often come across as moody, grumpy, and often negative. This isn’t really how I feel inside, but I definitely have projected these attitudes. This is where being alone is helpful for me. It gives me time and space to work through my feelings and attitudes. But in real life, it’s often not easy to find the time and space to be alone and to work through my stuff.

Marriage is hard enough, without having to live with an American Neanderthal who isn’t very in touch with his feelings. At this point, you may say a prayer for my wife. Let me explain.

Several years ago I was telling someone about a significant life hurdle I was facing. She asked, “How do you feel about that?” I was speechless. It never occurred to me that I should feel anything. It was just an experience – just something I was facing. It was neither good, nor bad – it just was.

But this conversation was eye-opening to me. I realized just how out of touch I am with my feelings. In the 12-13 years since that phone call, I’ve tried to paid more attention to my feelings. I’ve found that when I correctly identify what I’m feeling, I can better own those feelings and process through them. Sometimes it will take a few days to really understand what is going on inside, sometimes it is easy, but sometimes those feelings are very deep.

A few months ago, I found myself feeling sluggish, lethargic, and very unmotivated. I wasn’t depressed and I wasn’t upset – I just had no motivation. The next day I realized why. I was waiting for some news about a recent job interview. I was at peace with the process, but the lack of news left me feeling morose. Just identifying the uncertainty in my life allowed me to put a label on my experience. Within moments the lethargy lifted.

This was very educational for me. It confirmed the idea of “owning the truth.” Once I own the experience, feeling(s), and/or challenges, I (and many others) seem better equipped to move on.

Today I participated in an online video conversation that provided some valuable insight into this whole process. Here is what we came up with:

This is what I was talking about above. The first step is to always get in touch with what feelings you are experiencing.

This is a hard one for most of us. We are afraid that if we tell the truth, people won’t like us, they’ll reject us, or worse, we’ll not like ourselves.

My feelings do not change my identity. Even when I feel like a failure, I am still valuable. Even when I am angry, I am still complete. Even when I am depressed, I am still a whole human being. Even when I am going through Hell, I am still worth as much as when I wasn’t going through Hell.

  • Reframe Your Story.

This one is challenging, and I won’t be able to address it very well here. The key take away that I got from the conversation, (and I’d recommend you watch it in its entirety), is that we need to remember those moments and times when we didn’t feel like we do currently. Grasp those memories and unfold those experiences, to reframe the current situation. For instance, when I went through the collapse of my first marriage, I thought my life was over. I now claim that to be one of the greatest opportunities of my life. In the midst of a current life-altering collapse, is it possible I would come to the same conclusion? Probably.

  • Experience a Near Death Experience in Order to Get Clear.

Universally, we all agreed that those life-altering, life-threatening experiences are some of the best tools God uses to get us to refocus our priorities and outlook.

Here is the video for you to view:

My problem remains – I’m a caveman when it comes to understanding my feelings. I get stressed, depressed, and distraught – but I often don’t know why. When I take the time, I can usually identify what those situations are and how I’m feeling in reaction to those situations. I am beginning to understand how important it is for me to take that time – daily – to meditate, pray, listen, and introspect. Without it, I can sometimes get twisted into a ball of ignorant feelings and attitudes.Melon Collie

My takeaway is that there are no bad attitudes, just poor reactions. Sometimes we are going through a rough spot, a life-threatening space, or a situation that seeks to destroy life as we know it. Understanding the situation, and the feelings surrounding that, will help us process our feelings and attitudes. As my friend Sovann Penn says in the above video, “A good attitude is a real attitude.”

Another way to look at this, from my friend Marc Schelske, “If you’re not growing, you’re not telling the truth.”

Or, as Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

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Comments

  1. Jeff Mattson says:

    Gary, I love that Melon Collie! Thanks for taking more time to process and sharing your insights here. It was a pleasure meeting and learning with you.

    1. gwalter says:

      Thanks Jeff! It was good to meet you. Thanks for stopping by!

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