ATTITUDE RECONSTRUCTION: A BLUEPRINT FOR BUILDING A BETTER LIFE
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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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What if… One system explained, integrated, correlated all human behavior and identified the guiding force behind our thoughts, feelings, words, and actions?

The new beginning of a day with the sun rising over the mountain horizon.

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In my book we explore how to successfully conquer fear. It is a great opportunity to learn how to stop your days from being compromised by these feelings. I strongly recommend everyone who experiences fearfulness to read the successful solutions in detail.

The Attitude Reconstruction logo image in light blue color.

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My high school reunion is coming up this fall and for the occasion, a tireless classmate is putting together a “memory book.” Instead of just providing the usual details about each person, college, jobs, mate, number of children, grandchildren, etc., I suggested people write a few sentences about their greatest accomplishment — what they took from their high school years or growing up in our then little town, or a message they would like to share with their classmates. A drawing of a pretty woman with brown hair in a purple dress hugging herself.

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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
Winner in Self-Help
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
Winner in How To

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