The Key to Having a Positive Attitude Everyday

Steven Gaffney

In today's work world, many organizations are under-resourced and understaffed; therefore, people are over-worked. Managing our careers and remaining motivated under that sort of stress can be challenging. So, how can we stay focused and handle all the challenges that affect our attitude, morale, and effectiveness? The answer is to have an Ownership Attitude.

I used to have a television show, during which I interviewed successful people. I found that one of the defining characteristics to success is an Ownership Attitude. When this attitude is adopted, we understand that we are in full control of ourselves and that no one else is responsible or to blame for our attitude. We accept responsibility for our thoughts, opinions, assumptions, and conclusions. We choose to think and act a certain way. We may not be able to control the circumstances around us, but we can control how we respond to those circumstances.

This may seem simple and obvious, but have you ever caught yourself or someone else saying things like this?

  • They pressured me.
  • They made me say it.
  • They made me do it.
  • They made me upset.
  • They ruined my day.

We often say these things while under stress, but they do not make logical sense. When we say such things, we are saying others control us. Obviously, this is not the truth. We are in control of ourselves. The only way that someone can ever control us is if we allow them to do so.

In the short run, we may feel better when we blame someone else, but it is only a matter of time before the misery returns. Why? Because when we blame others, we relinquish our control of the situation. We are saying that the other person is responsible, and we have to wait for them to do something about the situation. Furthermore, blaming others can blind us to the ways in which we may be contributing to a difficult situation.

When we are sitting in traffic getting made, who is responsible? We are! We cannot control the traffic, but we can control our response to it. If someone cuts us off and we go home with a miserable attitude and let the rest of the night be ruined, whose fault is it? Ours. The driver who cut us off isn't even thinking about ut. I once had a seminar participant challenge me about this. He said, "You don't understand. If someone cuts me off, they make me chase them down."

After people laughed, I said, "Isn't that interesting? You are allowing the other driver to have complete emotional control over you." The participant admitted that he had never thought of it that way. Of course, the truth is that no one can make you do anything.

The next time you find yourself choosing to surrender control of your attitude, implement the Three-Step Emotional Turnaround Solution.

1. Acknowledge your own emotion.
When you are upset, acknowledge the emotion you are feeling by saying something like, "I am upset/stressed/annoyed," or whatever. Avoid saying to yourself, "Calm down," or "Don't get upset," or "Don't worry." Don't invalidate your feelings. Acknowledging your emotions allows them to dissipate. Someone once said, "what you resist, persists."

2. Analyze the situation.
Instead of asking, "Why do they do this to me?" ask, Why am I allowing this person or situation to bother me?" This is far more effective and helpful. The answer to the question may reveal a persistent fear or insecurity. For instance, if you question yourself because you find yourself getting upset with a co-worker who is not performing up to standards, you may discover thay you're afraid their performance will have a negative effect on your ability to get your job done. And that, in turn, may have a negative effect on your career. Understanding why we become so emotional often reveals more about ourselves than the other person or situation.

3. Take action.
Ask yourself, "What am I going to do about it?" Letting it go can also be a solution - as long as we really do stop complaining about it and move on. For most of us, taking some sort of action is key. So if you find yourself complaining, stop and consider what you're willing to do about the situation. You can also consider what lessons you have learned or can learn that will allow you to grow, benefit, and prevent the difficulty in the future.

Using the Three-Step Emotional Turnaround Solution
Here's an example. Suppose you are sitting in a traffic jam and you are starting to become upset. First, acknowledge your emotions. Don't tell yourself to calm down. Second, analyze the situation by asking your, "Why am I allowing this to get me so upset? " Maybe you're upset because you're going to be late. Third, ask yourself, "What am I willing to do about this?" "What lessons can I learn from the situation that will allow me to grow, benefit, and prevent this situation in the future?" In this case, the answer might be to leave fifteen minutes earlier and get some books on tape. This way, you can enjoy the ride and arrive at work in a good frame of mind.

By following and implementing the Three-Step Emotional Turnaroud Solution, you can empower yourself to transform virtually any situation.

Steven Gaffney, President of Steven Gaffney Company
Copyright 2009. All Rights Reserved.

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