In Marianne Williamson’s book, Tears to Triumph, she talks about practicing spiritual exercises to train our attitudinal muscles, just like we would to train our physical muscles. She says, “The most powerful tool for success in life, in any area, is that our minds be channels for right thinking.”
I don’t only agree with this, but I am living proof. My business name and entire business came because a man I worked with was going on a negative rampage one day. I could have gone into the negative vortex with him, but instead, I waited for him to finish, and responded from a solution based mindset. After a few moments he looked at me and said, “you are so f*&cking contagiously positive. I want to be pissed off, but I can’t because your attitude is contagious.”
A few years ago I was facilitating a workshop called Harmony In the Workplace. One of the modules was about negative workplace attitude and how it affects the energy of everyone, including themselves and creates strain, energy drain and stress. I started with asking, “your attitude is your choice, agree or disagree?” The entire energy shifted in the room and a few people were so uncomfortable with the question.
“What do you mean my attitude is my choice?! I have every right to be pissed off.”
“Of course I’m negative, look at how bad things are around here.”
“If it is my choice, why do I feel like I have absolutely no control?”
“How can I possibly be positive when I’m stuck in traffic every single day?”
Uncomfortable or not, the reality is, even when things feel like they couldn’t get any worse, you can still feel sadness, or frustration without remaining in it. That means, choosing to feel all the feels with the intention of healing, or returning back to more joyful feelings. Coming up with a problem to every solution is not the solution and it will keep you stuck in Negative-Ville.
You will suffer, you will have pain, you will have negative days – this is a normal part of life. The difference between those who stay in despair and those who return back to positive is attitude.
In Marianne’s book she says, and I agree, “But boy is this hard when someone pushes all our buttons and triggers old wounds. We can be all lovely and enlightened in the morning, and crazed with anger by noon.”
Spiritual Assignment To Strengthen Your Attitudinal Muscles
Practice makes imperfectly perfect with these steps.
So let’s make it a little easier on ourselves. Here are some things you can do to strengthen your attitudinal muscles.
1. Become mindful of when you find yourself going on a rampage of negativity. What are your triggers. Don’t worry, we all have triggers. This isn’t a weakness, it is being a human being.
How are you letting external circumstances affect your inner wellbeing?
Are you getting pissed off on your drive to work because of all the traffic, still angry when you arrive? Feeling it again on your way home.
Are you upset at the way your coworkers act, wondering how you can change them (which you can’t)?
Are you participating in gossiping, and constant complaining?
Is someone else’s bad attitude (energy vampires) draining you of all your energy?
2. Think about your reaction before you speak so you don’t say things you will regret later. Take a couple minutes to breathe before picking up the phone, sending the email or text, or before you speak to the person who is triggering you.
Practice this by asking yourself, what can I do today to respond to something or someone in a more positive way?
3. Be intentional about the way you release the frustration. What we resist persists, so ignoring it won’t make it go away and neither will sending a reactive response you will regret later. If you feel like you need to get it out of your system, do it, but do it with the intention that you want to release it, not hold on to it for dear life. Something I like to do is write it out. It helps me look at it more objectively once I see it later. Also, when I really need to, I call my one girlfriend who I know will let me vent without offering a solution, which isn’t what I always need in that moment, and she just listens. When I need deeper healing, or I can’t seem to shift my perception, I ask her for her advice, or I make an appointment with my coach. There is nothing wrong with needing help.
Sometimes people will say to me, “but it feels so good to vent.” And I agree, there is a sense of comfort that comes from having a negative attitude. It gives us permission, or validation for feeling the way we feel. But, having a negative attitude about everything and everyone day in and day out is emotionally, phsycially and spiritually draining on our energy and our happiness levels.
4. If you want to kick the negative attitude habit, ask yourself, is this worth taking up permanent residence in Negative-Ville for? If not, which will most likely always be your answer, consider consciously affirming a new positive story. For example:
“No matter what happens today, I won’t be so hard on myself or judge myself. I am going to give myself a break.”
“Today is a good day to have a good day. I choose to make today good.”
“This can be a good day, or it can be a bad day. I choose to make it good.”
“Today I am going to not sweat the small things and practice being patient.”
5. Lastly, practice developing your attitudinal muscles by choosing to make one trigger area optimistic and make a deal with yourself that you will work at it. For example, if you hate your commute, don’t try to like the commute, let’s be honest commuting long hours sucks, instead, don’t complain about it and get sucked into the negative attitude vortex, find ways to make it easier. Make a playlist, listen to podcasts, or audio books. Shift your focus away from hating the commute. If someone at works annoys you, practice responding in a more positive way simply by not complaining about him/her. Just let it go. Make a list of all your triggers and negative reactions and on the other side of that list, write out what you prefer and begin to practice it.
Not patient? Practice being patient.
Have a short fuse? Practice breathing in and out until you feel yourself become calmer.
Constantly reacting too quickly and saying things you wish you hadn’t? Again, stop and practice breathing in and out until you are in a more positive energetic space where you can respond constructively.
I know this isn’t always easy, but it is so good for your health and happiness.
I go into this topic in depth in my 9-Week digital course, Unleash Your Inner Contagiously Positive. I encourage you to check it out if this resonates with you.
Just remember, what you choose, the choice is always yours. Put yourself into the drivers seat of your life.
Laurie-ann, The Contagiously Positive Girl