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I changed my mind and attitude

I have some good news!

I’ve never really been someone who can decide to change her attitude about something or someone and then instantly make that change. When I feel what I feel, I feel it, and I feel it hard. Despite knowing that changing my attitude and perception of the not-ideal situation(s) would make my life a whole lot easier, better, and more enjoyable, my brain has always been stubborn.

This summer, though, I’ve been in a different place mentally than I have been in the past (because I’ve changed). There has been a situation at work that has annoyed and frustrated me at times. I care a lot about people and about having things done well and correctly (when there is a way to do it correctly). I get very invested in people and character development, especially when it seems like it might fall under the parameters of my job, so this issue was hitting me hard.

After a particularly difficult evening, I was feeling emotionally exhausted. While I usually just go home and crash after work, this evening I decided to stay after work and listen to a talk by a speaker brought here by my employer. The lecturer was talking about seeing and acknowledging the good in people. He also spoke about how changing our thought can heal situations. He must’ve inspired me, because the next day I was able to change my thought and attitude about the tough situation.

I was able to uninvest myself because my investment was not wanted by the people involved. I was able to shrug off the issues that arose. I was able to work peacefully and without stress. I was able to shake off the awkwardness I was feeling from a coworker.

And, you know what? It was a great day. Things became less awkward between me and my coworker. I was able to start appreciating the good that I saw instead of focusing on everything that wasn’t done correctly. I had more energy. I was even early to work when normally I arrive either right on time or a few minutes late. I was able to focus on what was actually part of my job.

You might be wondering, “What’s the good news, Karlin?”

The good news is that I’ve had my first successful attitude change that had noticeable results for me. And it felt good. I’ve heard many times before that one of the keys to happiness is the attitude you bring to situations and the ability to let things go. I can attest that it’s true--most of my past unhappiness was a direct result of how I reacted to a situation.

Part of me worries that, because my attitude change was only once (so far), it’s not a permanent change in my life. But I’ve decided that it’s okay if it’s not a permanent change yet. I believe that it will eventually be a norm for me.

A friend mentioned in a post on Facebook last week that she makes stupid mistakes. I wanted to loudly remind her, “MISTAKES AREN’T STUPID! THEY HELP YOU LEARN!”--but I held back. I believe it’s important to explain why you believe what you believe. Why do I think mistakes aren’t stupid? How do they help me learn? (I appreciate having friends who are publicly sharing their personal development journeys, because they force me to think about why I think what I think.)

This is what I told her--after celebrating the progress she’s made, because she is crushing it, inspires me, and is building her life into the one she knows she deserves, a clean and healthy life:

“And remember: mistakes aren’t stupid, they provide us with the opportunity to see our growth & progress. It’s incredibly satisfying for me. This is my theory: at first, we make a mistake and don’t realize it was a mistake. Then we start recognizing that it’s a mistake after we’ve made it. And then we start catching ourselves mid-mistake. And then we catch ourselves before making the mistake. And then we recognize situations where we might’ve made the mistake in the past but have learned not to. It becomes second nature, no?”

I believe I’m reaching the stage where I’m starting to catch myself before falling into a rabbit hole of despair, angst, anger, frustration, judgement, etc, which is paving the way for me to actually be able to change my attitude about situations, recognize that someone else’s problem is not my problem, and be happier and more carefree in general.

Only time will tell if this change is now permanent or if I have more mistakes to make, and I’m willing to wait and see. I’m going to be conscious about my thoughts and actions and try to keep the progress and momentum moving forward while I wait.

I can’t tell you how to change your attitude or be less stubborn; t’s something you have to figure out for yourself. You know yourself better than I do, and no amount of words I can say will force you to be less affected by the actions of others or by tricky situations. You have to decide for yourself who you want to be, how you want to deal with situations, and whether or not you like who you are when the sh*t hits the fan. I believe those are good first steps. The more self aware you are, the more able you will be to develop who you are and to be who you want to be (if you aren’t there already).