22 Mar 2011, 8:08pm
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Attitude

Attitude

“I need another way of looking at this.” This is my never fails method to get unstuck when the pull of negativity is sucking me downward. It’s the lifeboat that saves me from the maelstrom.

The instruction in italics above comes from The Course In Miracles (see Healing Links). I’ve used it for over thirty years to get through minor setbacks as well as to navigate major crisis situations. If I can’t reframe my reality in a way that allows me to move forward, I get help from someone more skilled or more objective than me.

This has been put to the test recently when, in the space of a month, both my dogs died, I was flattened by Influenza, and a long awaited resolution to a financial problem failed to materialize. I was stopped in my tracks, finding the simplest of things (standing, walking, eating) a huge challenge.

What my mind presented as “another way” was death. The narrative ran something like this. “If I’m dying at least my dogs don’t have to face the loss of me and I won’t need the money where I’m going.”

Even before it became clear that I wasn’t going to die of the flu (some desperately ill nights not withstanding), I accepted life slowing to a crawl, being confined to one room, and well-laid plans being shelved. I may even have come to appreciate some things about it. Nothing at all was expected of me. I got to re-examine my will to live and my life plan.

“If I survive this, what will be most important to me?”

For a long time I’ve believed, and taught, that to come to terms regularly with our mortality is a wise exercise to keep us on track toward right action and right livelihood. Awareness of the impermanence of earthly life can help us avoid unnecessary detours from living the life we love and loving the life we live.

It’s definitely one of the shortcuts to an attitude adjustment when we’re getting lost in “the story of me.”

Attitude is shaped by a complex array of factors that include heredity, upbringing, birth order, life experiences, and belief systems. Attitude is also subject to wide fluctuations based on the current circumstances of your life.

On a day when you lose your job, the car can’t move, a driving rain is falling, AND Starbucks is out of Chai tea latte you may see no choice but to burrow under the covers with your dog and wait until something shifts.

It helps if you stay in training for those hard times even when it feels like your cruising the open road and gas is free.

(I remember that day and I wish I was in it now, even though gas wasn’t free!)

“Staying in training” requires something quite challenging from us. It requires that we not be attached to our plans and expectations, that we take life as it comes. How do you know when you require an attitude adjustment? Listen for anger, hopelessness, or helplessness in your self-talk. Be alert for whining, complaining, and blaming. These are the indicators that you need another way of looking at your situation. You’re not able to consider a host of alternatives if you’re stuck in negativity. Our ability to respond to whatever life brings depends on a resilient Attitude. Next week, Resilience.