Good Attitude or Bad? How You Feel Affects Change

We all know that making significant positive changes in our lives isn’t easy – change never is. And yet, most of us are trying to change something about ourselves. How brave is that? To me, that shows that we, as human beings, have a tremendous amount of faith in ourselves because we sign up every day to do what is hard. That requires courage. Be sure to celebrate your courage whenever you feel the strain of change, because too often we beat ourselves up over minor failures, and forget to appreciate our triumphs.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” – Maya Angelou

Change is an interesting goal. Psychologists have studied change – how people succeed, and why they fail – for years, and they’ll agree that it’s a process. To make a change, and stick with it, you have to first recognize the need for change, then adopt a system around making that change happen (like going on a diet, or buying a nicotine inhaler to replace your cigarettes). But the most important part of making lasting change is your attitude. Your attitude has the power to make or break your goal.

Let’s take a closer look at “attitude” for a moment. Researchers suggest that there are three main components that make up an “attitude”:

  1. Emotion: How the issue makes you feel.
  2. Mind: Your thoughts and beliefs about the subject.
  3. Behavior: How your attitude affects your actions.

Using weight loss as an example, we’ll say that weighing in at 200 pounds makes you feel sad because you believe that your inability to lose weight means you’re weak, a failure, a bad person, a bad wife. These are ugly thoughts, but while your mind may know they’re not true, they’re still whispering to you every time you look in the mirror. These negative thoughts and feelings drag you down and drain your energy, making success that much more difficult. This is when you need to change your “attitude” the most.

What is your internal dialogue telling you? If your friend were to tell you the same words you repeat to yourself in your own mind every day, would you still be friends? Probably not. Women are especially hard on themselves, but with every negative thought, you’re sabotaging your ability to change.

The First Step to Change is Changing Your Habitual Negativity

Negative thoughts can become habitual, and the first step in changing a bad habit is to start small. Here are 3 Baby Steps to changing your inner dialogue.

Baby Step 1: “But…”

Every time a negative thought pops into your head, I want you to add “but” to the end.

Example. “I’m fat…but,” then finish the sentence, “I will work out for 45 minutes today and will weigh less tomorrow.” This will slowly shift you away from negative thinking into positive and productive thought patterns.

Baby Step 2: You Are Not Your Weakness

One of the most common mistakes we make when thinking about ourselves is saying we “are” something, rather than the truth, which is we “do” something. We don’t have control over what we “are,” but we can control what we “do.” So change your language to remind yourself that you have control.

Example. Instead of “I’m fat, but…” alter this to “I’m not where I’d like to be yet, but I will get there.” Or, if that’s too much, just try “I look fat, but…” and finish the sentence positively.

Baby Step 3: “I am beautiful and awesome.”

You are. When your internal dialogue changes to believing this, then you’ll behave in a way that matches that belief about yourself. Your outer appearance mirrors your inner words. Change the one, and the other will follow.

In my practice, I’ve seen it time and again: Those who stay healthy transform themselves with their words first. Not only the words they say, but the words they think and feel – their attitude. Remember, to God, you are beautiful and awesome. These are His words, and they should be yours too.