ATTITUDE RECONSTRUCTION: A BLUEPRINT FOR BUILDING A BETTER LIFE
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Both men and women have to speak up in order to take charge of their lives and cultivate meaningful relationships!

We don’t speak up for the same general reasons, which include:

  • I don’t want to rock the boat  — I want to keep the status quo
  • I don’t want others to have any emotions – be upset, scared, hurt, mad
  • I don’t want to hear what they have to say because I’m angry and when I’m angry, I’m convinced that my way is clearly the correct way
  • I want to avoid conflict at all cost

We pay a high price by stuffing it — by going silent, stonewalling, and withdrawing. Learn how you can transform your life & relationships.

Where’s my joy? I’ve just not honored myself – unhappy.

Where’s my love? Instead of feeling connected and being part of the collective energy flow, I’m a million miles away – isolated.

Where’s my peace? This moment doesn’t feel safe.

During a session recently, a husband was sitting on the couch with his wife. He was trying to share his health concerns with her. At his first pause, she started giving him nutritional recommendations.

I leaned forward and said to him: “And when she’s giving you her opinion and that’s the last thing in the world you want, with the sweetest most loving voice you can muster, say ‘Honey, I just want to be listened to for a few minutes right now.”

The key is to say it sweetly, lightly and repeatedly until she stops and refocuses on what you were saying.

And what did the guy on the couch say after all that? “That would be new for me!”

At an early age he’d learned to cope by going into his “serious brooding” mode and distancing himself. She hated it when he did that.

What we all really want in our social relationships especially with family members, is to feel good about ourselves, to feel connected/share/feel part of a team, and know we’re safe in our own little tribe. (Attitude Reconstruction contends that these three goals are the three Ultimate Attitudes associated with the three emotions of joy, love, and peace.)

When the other person has coaxed you to talk or you finally speak up about something you know you’ve been avoiding, more joy, love, and peace awaits just by lightly repeating the words…

“I just want to be listened to for a few minutes right now.”

Here are three important points:

  1. This doesn’t mean you get to hold onto the microphone and talk for as long as you want. It’s got to be shared fifty-fifty.
  1. Talk about yourself and what’s going on for you. This isn’t “listen to me while I tell you about you.” For both or all people involved, the focus is you sharing about yourself. That’s how feelings of closeness arise.
  1. When you’ve finished what you want to say, you can solicit other’s impressions, feelings, suggestions, etc. IF you want them.

 

We all just want to be understood, aka listened to – to be seen for “us” as a worthy being.  As scary as it can seem at first, I guarantee that speaking up will bring copious rewards and breakthrough moments. You will be more authentic and your relationship will prosper.

 

 

stop_being_self_criticalBeing too self-critical is epidemic in our society. It’s almost a national pastime to beat ourselves up over real and imagined imperfections. We became unwitting devotees watching our parents and teachers direct their anger towards us with negative judgments and demeaning labels instead of channeling emotions in appropriate ways. Being receptive little students, we pledged allegiance to those unkind messages and internalized commitments to keep them alive. Today we know the words by heart and speak them inside without even thinking.

For many of us, the expression “you are your own worst enemy” holds a lot of truth. We’re torn between identifying with our “true self,” which is self-accepting, goal-directed, and life-affirming or the “self-critical self,” which mercilessly beats us up and thwarts our efforts to reach our goals.

Whenever we criticize ourselves, we compound the issue. We turn one problem into two — there’s the social blunder, poor financial decision, or disapproving glance in the mirror — and the demeaning self-loathing that follows.

We can systematically start to feel more self-love by recognizing when our critical inner messages start to play and relentlessly wage war.

Are you more than ready to silence the tyrant? Then try these four effective strategies to stop being self-critical when you make a mistake so you can show yourself more love:

  1. Write down the most common destructive things you say to yourself, such as “I’m so stupid.” “I blew it again.” “ I’m such a bad person. I’m unlovable.”
  1. Determine what contradicts your old messages and write them down on a card or paper. Change the funky messages to something more positive and objectively true, such as “I’m doing the best I can. / I did the best I could.” I’m fine and I’m doing fine.” Or “Life is for learning. We all make mistakes.” Or  “If I knew then what I know now, I would have done things differently.” Put your truths on a 3×5 card and carry them in your pocket, day-timer, or taped to your computer or dashboard of your car.
  1. Relentlessly repeat your new thoughts, especially when you’re judging yourself poorly or when you’re crying and feeling down. Repeat them ten, twenty, thirty times! It doesn’t matter if you believe it or not. Just repeat them. Interrupt all the “yes, buts” and other discounting thoughts that surface and continue to repeat your new truths.
  1. Shower yourself with kindness in the form of self-appreciations. Compliment your own abilities, characteristics, qualities, and efforts. It’s not boasting or bragging. It’s looking on the bright side.

Write down three self-appreciations each day. At the end of each week read your list out loud with conviction and enthusiasm. Adding a smile, or even half a smile while repeating your list, will give it a boost.

If this feels totally weird and you can’t come up with a single self-appreciation, start with something small. Name a specific positive trait, talent, or quality and look at yourself from this new perspective. Try something like:

  • I‘m intelligent.
  • I’m responsible.
  • I take good care of my parents.
  • I like to help others.

 

Beating yourself up for not living up to impossible standards is a dead-end road that leads to Point Misery. See how wonderful you feel when you relentlessly focus on the good. Emphasizing your positive qualities and contradicting that internal critic will definitely improve your attitude about yourself. Starting today, turn your self-criticism into self-appreciation. You’ll feel the difference immediately and hear a new pledge of allegiance to the united states of Joy, Love, and Peace!

 

We all know some well intending (for the most part) souls who are happy to give us directives in everything from how to wear our hair to why we need to get a ‘real’ job to why we’re the reason our kid is failing algebra. Mom might tell you to ditch the boyfriend or stand up to the boss. Instead of biting your tongue or lashing out in frustration, it’s time to adopt a strategy to deal with all the unsolicited advice you’re getting in your life.

Their well-meaning 2-cents-worth is what I call, “you-ing.” They are telling you about you without your permission. That’s the opposite of the first Attitude Reconstruction communication rule, which is “talk about yourself” — stick to your “I.” You-ing naturally elicits anger. They are out of their own back yard. If you aren’t ready for or don’t want feedback, it’s counter productive.

According to Attitude Reconstruction, when you’re drowning in the sea of uninvited advice from others, remember these six tips:

  1. Unsolicited advice and opinions mean that someone believes they are entitled to tell you about yourself without gaining permission. The reality is that we are each responsible for ourselves. That’s quite enough of a task in itself.
  1. When unsolicited advice comes at you, don’t argue with it. Remember that you are just the target of their misplaced anger, that it’s not personal, and that you are fine just the way you are. Blasting them back won’t help. Don’t look for the grain of truth in what’s being said. Don’t be overly polite and let others go on and on just to hear themselves talk. Instead, be the matador, put out your cape, step aside, and let the “bull” go flying by.
  1. Then lovingly but firmly speak up about what is true for you. Tell them it’s not helpful to you to receive unsolicited advice. Maybe mention that support and appreciation work much better for you. Matador their retort to you speaking up. Don’t get sucked into their rationalizations about how they are just trying to help. Acknowledge their good intentions and be a broken record, such as “I‘m getting angry right now because I’m not wanting any advice right now.”
  1. If they don’t hear and acknowledge what you’ve said — what is true for you right now – lovingly say it again, as many times as you need to, until they stop. Repeat each time they do it again. “I know you’re concerned about me, but I’m really not looking for input right now. When I need it, I’ll let you know.”
  1. And finally, appreciate them at times when they are not giving advice. Deep down, we all relish compliments, even though we may resist at the time.

 

Learning to tap in and listen to your own soul’s advice is always the biggest source of wisdom. But when others are bent on telling you the way your life needs to be, remember to honor yourself, to speak your truth and to say, ‘no thank you.’

 

Summer is the time when days are long and routines are more flexible. Wouldn’t you like to make this summer full of holly2renewal, rejuvenation, and transformation? It’s attainable with just a little bit of forethought and planning, Embrace the idea, and you’ll have something to show for the summer – a change you can look back on and feel genuinely good about.

To make this shift requires putting yourself first. Realize you are making the choice to do something important for you. You can do this by taking a pause and asking yourself, “What would make me feel proud at the end of the summer?” You know!

Make a concrete plan to commit time to actualizing your goal. What you select needs to be reasonable and doable. Write it down. Get specific about logistics – exactly who, what, when, and where? Map out the time on your schedule.

 Here are five possibilities:

  1.  Acquire a new interest or hobby. Perhaps you always wanted to learn to play the guitar or plant a garden. Find a good teacher and sign up for lessons or locate a helpful resource.
  2. Travel to a desired location. Perhaps you’ve always dreamed of taking a cross-country trip or canoeing in Algonquin National Park.
  3. Focus on personal growth to reconstruct an attitude. Maybe check out the Hollyhock Learning Centre schedule and attend a workshop on Cortes Island, BC.
  4. Volunteer with a cause you admire. There are so many worthy organizations just waiting for you. Whether you’re drawn to helping children or the homeless, or are passionate about animals or the environment, the options are endless.
  5. Set a health goal. Exercise regularly, join a softball league, say “no” to eating sugar.

 

Tell someone, preferably someone who also would also like to make this his or her best summer yet. Make an agreement to check in periodically, not for a guilt trip, but as a cheerleader and coach, offering encouragement and support.

Keep your goal in mind, ignore the excuses, and just do it. You’ll be proud of what you’ve accomplished and pleased with the results.

By the way, I’ll be leading a workshop about Attitude Reconstruction at the Hollyhock Learning Centre on Cortes Island, B.C., August 14 to 19. Click here for details.

listening

It always feels good to have a personal cheerleader so I suggest you find one! Seeking support from another person might take a little courage. Maybe you’ll feel vulnerable, embarrassed, or concerned about imposing. Do it anyway.

Generate a list of possible candidates and choose one. Write out your request first, then feel your fear and dare to ask. If someone declines, don’t take it personally. Just try someone else. Ideally, the person you select will be working on making personal changes too, so you can cheer each other on.

Make contact at the appointed time. Watch out for making excuses not to check in. If you resist, deal with your emotions—shiver, cry or pound, then make the call. You’re both responsible to initiate your check-in, so don’t wait for the other person.

Possible Check-In Format

1. One person talks. The other just pays attention and listens. Set a timer so that you stick to the agreed-upon time each person will have.

2. Switch roles after the timer goes off.

3. Confirm your next check-in time.

4. Exchange appreciations.

The support person’s not there to take charge and tell you what to do. If she has her own stake in your changing, she’ll lose the ability to encourage you when you don’t meet her expectations. You want your cheerleader primarily to listen, look for the positive, and, with your permission, kindly point out attitudes or actions that seem counterproductive. If they’re upbeat, empathetic, congratulatory, and reliable, you’ve found the right person.

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Seeing and hearing are natural gifts for us. Look at the way animals use their senses to their advantage. They can sense safety, danger, play, and even food! We can use our senses to determine if someone is swept up in sadness, anger, or fear. And then we can confidently know how to best offer help.

IDENTIFY THE EMOTION

With just a little practice, you’ll be able to recognize the emotions underneath other people’s demeanor, words, and actions. Rather than reacting to what they say or do, you can extend a communication “bridge” to help shift their emotional state by offering what they truly long to hear but don’t know how to ask for.                      

anger_blog

To figure out what emotion is probably going on, ask yourself “Where is their attention focused?”

IF THEY’RE FEELING SAD…

  1. People feeling sadness (but often not crying) are most likely thinking or speaking poorly of themselves. Maybe they are being passive or clingy. They need genuine appreciations. In your interactions with them, convey the idea, “I love you. You’re great.” Remind them of their strengths and contributions.

 

IF THEY’RE FEELING ANGRY…

  1. Folks striking out in anger and spewing “you”s all over the place with blame, negativity, and criticism really just feel isolated and are in desperate need of understanding. They won’t respond well to debates, lectures, or reprimands. The chances they’ll hear what you have to say are slim to none unless you can genuinely connect with them first. You need to sincerely hear them out without taking what they say personally. Focus on what’s going on with them behind their angry words and let the rest go flying by, that is, their “you”s and accusations. Silently repeat or say, “I want to hear what you have to say” and just listen.

 

IF THEY’RE FEELING FEAR…

  1. If someone is overwhelmed, anxious, or freaked out chances are she’s got some unexpressed fear stocked up. She needs honest reassurances. Comfort, soothe, and repeatedly remind her that everything is and will be all right. Other reassuring comments are “We’ll make our way through this together,” “I’m here” or “I’ll take care of it.” Or offer reassurances by reminding her of the objective reality: “Your boss really likes the work you do,” or “You’ve done this successfully before.

 

If you’re unable or unwilling to offer a communication bridge, it’s probably because your own unexpressed emotions are getting in the way. It’s okay. You’re human. To quickly reignite your compassion, take a brief time-out and handle your own emotions or remind yourself of the objective reality. Then you will be able to look within your heart, and if appropriate, extend a bridge.

You’ll deepen your personal relationships when you become adept at recognizing other people’s emotions. You can use this knowledge to communicate in the ways most helpful to them. What an amazing talent you’ll be cultivating. For example, if you know that your husband is quick to anger, you can consciously listen silently and understand his position, especially at times when he is upset or under stress. If a workmate often seems glum or down, you can choose to validate her gifts and skills a little more often.

As soon as autumn comes, people’s thoughts begin to shift to the holidays, and sometimes those thoughts are accompanied by difficult feelings such as depression, frustration, and anxiety. For some, the holidays conjure up unpleasant associations, such as the first event without Grandma there, or prickly family get-togethers. Then there are financial worries, the pressure to come up with gift ideas, dealing with school kids on vacation, too many social obligations, and the list goes on.

This is my time of year because Attitude Reconstruction is all about creating joy, love, and peace. You see, my viewpoint is based on a theory that we all possess six emotions. Emotions are pure physical sensations in the body. Think about the word “emotion,” it’s E + motion = energy in motion.

Gold Christmas tree ornament with black snowflakes.

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Everywhere you look in the media, you’ll find coverage and outrage about physical assault, analysis about why partners stay in abusive relationships and why people feel justified to strike out. What you don’t see, however, are viable solutions to this widespread problem.

The news repeats images that make us cringe: Ray Rice clobbering his wife in the elevator; a man in Canada beating his dog to death and depositing it in a dumpster; a Connecticut CEO kicking and beating a dog in an elevator; Chris Brown hitting Rhianna. It’s no wonder expressing anger gets a bad rap. It can be aggressive and often abusive.

A close up of an angry man drawing his fist back.

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Attitude Reconstruction began as a Blueprint; a complete guide to our six emotions and the predictable things we think, feel, say and do as a result. I divided all behaviors associated with each emotion into four core attitudes along with their opposites. It wasn’t until years later, however, one over-arching concept emerged: three destructive Ultimate Attitudes associated with sadness, anger, and fear, and conversely, three constructive Ultimate Attitudes, associated with joy, love, and peace.

Five blue circles depicting mental attitude tools for a better life.

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It always feels good to have a personal cheerleader so I suggest you find one! It may not always happen naturally. There are all different types of friendships, and not all will be the right ones for the emotional support you seek.

There is a way to be proactive, and create a positive situation where you and someone else share a needed role for each other. Seeking support from another person might take a little courage. Maybe you’ll feel vulnerable, embarrassed, or concerned about imposing. Do it anyway.

Black solid outline of a traditional telephone handset.

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Jude Bijou, Author
Jude Bijou is a licensed marriage and family therapist, educator, author, and speaker.  Meet Jude

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Attitude Reconstruction
2012 Benjamin Franklin Award
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2012 ForeWord Reviews
Winner in Psychology
2012 ForeWord Reviews
Winner in Self-Help
2012 International Book Award
Winner in Health: Psychology/Mental Health
2012 Nautilus Silver Award
Winner in Personal Growth/Self Help/Psychology
2012 LA Festival of Books
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