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Last Updated on March 11, 2020

How to Turn a Bad Attitude into a Positive One

How to Turn a Bad Attitude into a Positive One

These days, the phrase “bad attitude” gets thrown around quite often. You use it regularly and barely stop to think what it actually means. It’s just the nail technician has some bad attitude when you asked her to redo your toes. Your younger sister has a bad attitude when you offered her to put her phone down while you are having a conversation. Your boss has a bad attitude because the deal did not go through.

With the ease that the label “bad attitude” gets applied these days, it is unlikely that you catch yourself saying “I have a bad attitude today.” Though having it is something that you rarely consciously admit to yourself, your own bad attitude is more impactful on you than the attitude of anybody else around.

Staying in a company of people with a bad attitude is something you can choose. It’s similar to an elevator that stinks when you walk in. You suffer for a couple of floors but then you walk out. And soon enough, you manage to erase the unpleasant encounter out of your mind.

Having a bad attitude is different. You don’t notice or pay much attention to a stink, because it’s yours. And, until you are able to identify and manage your bad attitude, you are a prisoner of it, unknowingly to yourself.

So it is not a semantics exercise when you try to put a finger on what exactly you call a bad attitude. It is, rather, the training of your mindfulness to notice when you are in your own stinking cloud and not letting it become your permanent company.

1. What If You Think You Know More Than Anybody Else?

Coming to a project, a team, a conversation with a sense that you are always right and that you know everything is a sign of a bad attitude. You can be indeed the most prepared and have the deepest expertise – that is not the point. In fact, being the smartest person in the room is often one of the coping mechanisms we often resort to.[1]

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The problem with thinking that you know more than everybody else is that, in this mindset, you are not open to feedback or any new information that can be constructive to what you are trying to achieve. Your focus is on proving others wrong, without giving a chance to a possibility that others may actually have a point.

Come back to that nail technician who messed up your toes. She will be adamant pointing that your feet are crooked rather than admitting that she, a professional in this setting, did something wrong. With the huffing and puffing, she will redo your nails. But she may never see where exactly she made a mistake. You can be the same when you think you know more than anybody else.

Catch your bad attitude when you dismiss a piece of feedback, when you defend familiar ways, and when you discredit (even only to yourself) others’ experiences as invalid. At that moment, not only you are impossible to cooperate with. In this mindset, you block any opportunities for your own growth. With the need to maintain your status of know-it-all, you become stiff and blinded to things that can oftentimes benefit you.

From Know-It-All to Knowing Nothing

Once you’ve diagnosed that you are in your usual “know more than anybody else” mode, coming out of the stinky attitude starts with recognizing that sometimes, you might be actually wrong. And it may have nothing to do with the facts, figures, and dates. If anything, you are always spot on with your prep. It is about admitting that others may experience the same situations differently than you and therefore have their own truth, also different from yours.

Preparing to be wrong means understanding that all you know is actually a reflection of your experiences only, and not anybody else’s. Whether it is about personal relationships or business, you can be both right about your own vision of things and wrong about others’ at the same time. Realizing it makes you so much more open-minded, cooperative, and tolerant. And that’s quite a bit of an attitude change!

2. What If You Think It Will Fail Before It Begins?

Imagine that you perform your best version of an eye-roll and frustratingly ask yourself, “Why do I even have to go through it?” You are about to start something that, in your book, has already failed. Placing a verdict of failure on things, people, or events before they even had a chance is bad attitude!

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Here are some examples. You think a meeting with your colleagues will be a waste of time before heading to it. So you mentally write it off and deliberate a way you can pretend participating while going through your own plans. You suspect that your partner will forget your birthday, and you decide to spare yourself from a potential disappointment. You book a restaurant in advance so there are no unpleasant surprises.

Anticipating a failure is a natural defense. Something uncertain is about to happen, and preparing for the worst is a way to control it. However, having a backup plan for the worst-case scenario is different than filing something as a failure in your mind before it starts. The former gives some room for things to turn out fine, with a plan B in the back burner. The latter already has placed the whole enterprise in a grave. No matter what destiny it could have had, you’ve already decided that it’s going to be grim.

When you decide to book a restaurant to prevent your partner from forgetting your birthday, you rip him of the agency he has in this situation. More so, you literally incentivize him to disappoint you next time. You do not believe in him from the start – so why convince you otherwise? And, as your know-it-all mode might kick in here too (see point above), you will inadvertently lead a situation into failure just to prove you are right. Double strike for bad attitude!

From Expecting Failure to Giving the Agency

Bad attitude coming from not believing in people is rooted in past disappointing experiences. Yet writing things off because others have let you down before is just bitter. You literally allow your past to dictate your future. You condition others that there is no way for them to please you, because you’ve already decided it’s going to be a failure. You also condition yourself to only notice disappointments, because that’s all you remember.

Turning this around requires letting others own their mistakes when they make them instead of trying to preempt them. Giving the agency to people you deal with and taking them in good faith means believing that they are doing their best. With that belief, you will be present to see that, instead of tending to the graveyard of failures that never happened.

3. What If You Criticize to Invalidate?

Let’s say, your team sends a presentation, and you see every bullet point that is not aligned well. Or maybe your friend tells you about her mysterious new boyfriend, and you find every inconsistency in his behavior. Attentive to details and analytical, one thing you do extremely well is finding holes in anything. Nothing that does not sit well skips your eye.

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While your forensics skills came handy on more than one occasion, they’ve probably brought you into one particular trap: you can criticize something to completely destroy it. At first, it may seem like fun. Because look at you not letting any imperfection pass through! But then you just cannot stop. The more you discover, the more your inner detective gets both enraged but also aroused by an idea of finding more. It goes on until you stand in the middle of ruins, aggravated. “Couldn’t others see what I had to deal with just now?”

Bad attitude! You’ve just destroyed something into pieces without building anything in return.

How come is it a bad attitude when you just pointed at everything that is wrong with an idea? Well, your role in the whole undertaking is destructive, not constructive.

For someone you’ve provided feedback to – all you’ve done is invalidated that person’s vision (even for a good reason), which, without an alternative vision, leaves that person directionless.

For yourself, you have just spent time finding negative. Without rebalancing it with positive and offering ways how it might work, the net result of your effort is another confirmation that people do sloppy work, do not pay attention, let alone care.

From Destructive to Constructive

The only way to remedy this bad attitude caused by a detective syndrome is to take it for a rule that whenever you criticize – you offer an alternative. Literally! Do not like a sentence in a presentation – offer a rewrite! Do not like a proposed strategy, instead of stopping at finding problems, – find how the problems can be resolved.

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A good attitude is whenever you are a critic, you are also a creator. This way, instead of being a party pooper to be avoided, you will be someone to come to for solutions.

You being constructive is not only important for people around. It is most important for you. So, between things that you’ve criticized to death and things that you helped to progress forward, the balance would always remain on the latter. Even after all the sadist pleasure you’ve derived marking up your teammate’s draft into a bloodbath, at the end of the day, you are the one who moves this draft to a next level, not throws it in the garbage.

4. What If Everybody Around You is a Problem?

There is a saying that:

“If everybody around you is a problem, you are a problem.”

Finding the culprits is a common strategy for masking a bad attitude. Yet this is the exact time you should turn to yourself.

If others have no clue what they are doing, perhaps it’s a good moment for you to examine your conviction that you know more than anybody else. If you feel like things are bound to fail before they even commence, probably it’s your desire to control everything taking the best of you. And, if you encounter more issues than solutions, it can be the case that the real issue begins with you.

Identify your bad attitude before pointing at anybody else’s, and you are halfway turning it around. Then, prepare to be wrong, give people ownership of their mistakes, and offer alternatives when you criticize, and that’s a much better attitude!

More Tips for Building the Right Attitude

Featured photo credit: Allie Smith via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Oxana Kunets

Explorer of all things meaningful living, confidence, and courage

How to Turn a Bad Attitude into a Positive One 14 Ways Strong-Minded People Think Differently How to Answer the Interview Question “What Motivates You?” 7 Reminders on Building Strong Family Relationships

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Last Updated on November 6, 2020

Feeling Defeated in Life? 9 Ways to Take Back Your Power

Feeling Defeated in Life? 9 Ways to Take Back Your Power

The human feeling of wanting to achieve more is a shared one and, consequently, so does the sense of feeling defeated. Things don’t always work out as planned, and we then feel beat down and sometimes downright downtrodden.

This feeling is something that every achiever human-being feels once in a while. The good news is that there are proven science-based ways to help take back the power. It’s not possible to continually win without experiencing a loss, and the way we react to failure is what defines us.

There are (sadly) many practical examples—from battling a bad habit (did anyone say Netflix binge on a Tuesday night?) or even an addiction to dealing with a boss you don’t like who makes every day seem like it will never end. It might be other issues that make you feel like Sisyphus, the Greek god who was forced to push a massive rock up a hill for eternity as a punishment, doing the hard work and not being rewarded for it.

You Are Not Alone

You are not alone; Churchill and Lincoln were also defeated.

Fortunately, we’ve found some fantastic examples of ‘defeated’ people who made a remarkable comeback—showing that character is at least as important as talent. One of those people is none other than Winston Churchill. Most of us know that he saved his country and potentially the rest of the world during World War II, but we tend to forget that he famously stated, “I am finished” almost 20 years before that—when he was 40.

He had lost the Gallipoli battle, and everything seemed to indicate that he would go down in history like the rest of us: unknown. However, his plan to come back to the forefront of politics succeeded (only to lose the election after the war, and then win again). He was feeling defeated but he managed to bounce back.

There are other examples of leaders who experienced loss and then made a remarkable comeback. Abraham Lincoln is known as a former US president, but no one remembers that he was defeated in elections for the U.S. House of Representatives just a few years before that. Napoleon Bonaparte was the emperor of Europe, only to be exiled (and then come back and then go into exile again).

Most of us are not ruling Europe or the US, but you get the point—you win some, you lose some—and you should never give up on your goals and dreams. This isn’t relevant only to famous historical characters. The human spirit is measured when it’s at its weakest and in need of finding strength.

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Personally speaking, I experienced a tragedy, having to watch my father die in front of me when I was 25. Less than an hour later, as I was in the hospital, I told myself that nothing would break me, and I embarked on a journey to save other people’s lives with Safe Lane, a non-profit I started to prevent car accidents. It is what we do that defines us, and not what happens to us. It’s how we deal with feeling defeated that defines who we are.

Feeling Defeated Is Not Your Fault

Research shows that feeling defeated is not your fault. The deep-rooted feeling of defeat is validated in research. For example, studies of animal species with dominance hierarchies showed that after losing in non-lethal fighting, the animals that lost showed signs of depression.[1] Other studies suggest that defeat and feelings of entrapment are associated with depression and anxiety. Sadly, it happens to humans as well.

Research also suggests that it hurts the poor more than others. In a study conducted in economically deprived areas in England, over half of the people felt defeated. They experienced feelings of entrapment.[2]

The research also proved a connection to anxiety and depression, showing that this feeling impairs the mental health of those living in more impoverished areas. The clear connection between where you live and how you feel is disheartening, as it makes clear that some populations are inherently more prone to suffering than others.

9 Ways to Take Back Your Power

The good news is that there are pretty good solutions one can use to fight this horrible feeling. Some of them can provide immediate improvement, while others help within a matter of weeks.

Here are 9 ways to take back your power when you’re feeling defeated in life.

1. Write a Gratitude Journal

Once a day, take three minutes to write down two things you’re grateful for. It might seem like a childish thing to do, but investing time in a gratitude journal has been scientifically proven to be helpful. Taking a note for yourself of the good things in your life makes you appreciate them more, and this kind of positive thinking also helps your brain change patterns.

According to a study conducted in Berkeley, students who wrote a gratitude letter to their peers had “significantly better mental health 4 weeks and 12 weeks after their writing exercise ended. This suggests that gratitude writing can be beneficial not just for healthy, well-adjusted individuals, but also for those who struggle with mental health concerns.”[3]

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Martin Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, proved that participants who took the time to write about the good things in their lives had a huge increase in happiness scores.

2. Take Regular Breaks

When you’re working too hard, it can sometimes feel good because you’re pushing your limits. Nonetheless, you can’t work without taking breaks. Your energy is limited, and there have been a few studies proving this.

According to numerous researches, “taking a break can be very beneficial for you and your work. Micro-breaks, lunchtime breaks, and longer breaks have all been shown to affect well-being and productivity positively. By taking regular breaks, you can boost your performance.”[4]

3. Find Yourself a Mentor

I’ve personally found this to be very helpful. Every issue that you’re going through has been experienced by someone before you, so learn from that. Having a mentor reduces stress and helps you both practically understand how to handle the situation and emotionally put things in perspective. It also helps remind you that you’re not alone.

According to UNL, “mentoring provides professional socialization and personal support to facilitate graduate school success and beyond. Quality mentoring greatly enhances students’ chances for success. Research shows that students who experience good mentoring also have a greater chance of securing academic tenure-track positions or greater career advancement potential in administration or sectors outside the university.”[5]

4. Meditation and Mindfulness

Meditation and mindfulness are powerful tools that are widely available today through the use of apps such as Calm and Headspace. There have also been countless books written about them. One of them is “Wherever You Go, There You Are:  Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life” by Jon Kabat-Zinn’s. By being present, you can control where your energy goes.

I used to be a skeptic, but I have learned that it’s helpful to meditate when you need a moment. Countless studies have proven that breathing helps build resilience. Just by breathing slowly and deeply, our body knows when to enter into a relaxation mode.

We’re living at a time that makes us feel overwhelmed. We have too much on our plate and sometimes, we’re in a position that doesn’t immediately allow us to solve the problem at hand.

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Don’t worry—by meditating, breathing, or just trying to relax, you can understand what to do by letting your mind some time to think and improve. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here reading this article!

5. Your Self-Talk Is More Crucial Than Ever

Our thoughts and beliefs can sometimes be discouraging. Many people tend towards a negativity bias, which means that we’re prone to notice negative thoughts and emotions more than positive and neutral ones. This is where self-talk comes in.

Using self-talk to analyze whether your perceptions are helping you or not and whether they’re an accurate representation of reality can help you understand that things may not be as bad as you think. Research shows that this is, in fact, often the case.

It’s a good habit to also remember to be kind to yourself. Some of us sometimes forget the crucial ingredient of self-compassion. It also might be a good idea to motivate yourself by watching others—Youtube might be a good place for that.

Here’s an excellent example:

6. Educate Yourself

For whatever of life’s hurdles you’re currently facing, there’s an answer that someone else has already thought of. Google Scholar or even just plain old Google can help you find proven methods to deal with what’s bothering you. Educate yourself about your situation and learn what can and cannot work for you. Knowledge is power, indeed.

7. Don’t Obsess About What Happened

One of the proven ways to help sports teams stay on track is not overthinking the future and not getting stuck in the past. It’s useless to obsess about what already happened, and at worst, it can only harm your mental and emotional well-being.

One psychological way to think about that is the radical acceptance approach, which is pretty self-explanatory. It means that you should accept what happened and instead, think about what you should do moving forward.

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According to the NYU School of Medicine, “past experiences shape what we see more than what we are looking at now.”[6] So, it’s not easy to fight that. But it is also possible to change it by radical acceptance and growth mindset methods.

8. Create a Vision for Your Life

Another method for dealing with daily hardships is to think like an organization and create your life vision. When you understand your goals and purpose, it’s easier to not sweat as much as some of the difficulties on the way.

According to “Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice” by Francis J. Greene,

“Effective strategic management begins with the organization clearly articulating its vision for the future. The organization’s vision refers to the broad category of long-term intentions that the organization wishes to pursue. It is broad, all-inclusive, and futuristic (Ireland et al., 2009)”.

It is imperative to understand your vision and implement it in your daily life to keep your balance.

9. Stay Healthy: Exercise and Eat Well

You don’t have to run a marathon. Simply walking or doing any other type of physical activity you enjoy can help pump things up and make you feel better physically and emotionally. Exercise can help you overcome depression and improve your mental health. It also enables you to feel in control in some cases, and that’s a powerful tool for someone who’s feeling defeated.

Healthy eating and keeping yourself hydrated goes a long way. Sleeping more than 7 hours each night is also super helpful for improving your physical and mental well-being.

Final Thoughts

It’s normal to feel defeated in life sometimes. After all, we all have our unique struggles and challenges along our journey in life. The important thing is that you learn how to face these roadblocks in your life. Whenever you’re feeling defeated in life, you can start with these 9 ways to gain back power and control in your life.

More Tips When You’re Feeling Defeated in Life

Featured photo credit: Anthony Tran via unsplash.com

Reference

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