Change your attitude, change your world

August 17, 2017

I, for one, need to learn to be a little more patient. My impatience was illustrated quite clearly this past spring when I was in my garden, anxiously waiting for one of my flowers to bloom. It had a bud that was on the verge of opening, so what was with the delay?


Oh, I suppose I could have let it go another day, but I just couldn’t wait. After all, I waited the entire winter to see my flowers bloom. How can I be expected to sit by while Mother Nature takes her sweet time?


You can probably guess where this is going. Yep, I tried to force the flower petals open. I ever so gently stuck my intrusive fingers into the bud and slowly peeled back some of the outside petals.


Many of them tore. I could see that the petals were folded in around each other like a bunch of wet socks all twisted together at the bottom of the washing machine.


The flower was obviously not ready to open, but my impatience would not allow me to delay my gratification one second longer. As a result, I had a shredded flower hanging from the stem, looking like it had gone through a hurricane. That’s when I realized I really need to change my impatient attitude.


So, what lesson did I glean from this ? Well, many, actually—not the least of which is to be more accepting and tolerant of the natural order of things.


This attitude adjustment applies to my interactions with humans as well. There have been numerous examples where I have grown impatient with people who did not change to meet my expectations fast enough.


Generally, we need to accept people the way they are without trying to change them. The exception, of course, is if someone’s behavior is violent, verbally or emotionally abusive, or criminal. Otherwise, we need to practice more compassion and less criticism.


This was challenging for me as a counselor. People came to me seeking advice. That was why they scheduled an appointment in the first place. How could I not try to change them? I eventually learned that they needed to change themselves. I could only be a guide.


It is a little ironic that I am now writing about how to improve yourself, while at the same time embracing the belief that I should accept you the way you are. The very act of advising you to stop trying to change others means I’m trying to change you. (Head rush!)


Allow me to clarify. (Well, it’s not so much a clarification as a justification.) With my new attitude, I am simply putting positive messages out there. Then I let go of any emotional attachments to the outcome. If people accept my messages, that’s fine. If they don’t, that’s fine, too.

 

That way, I am not emotionally invested in changing people. I am just serving up a buffet of friendly suggestions for anyone who wishes to dine. You can eat the food by putting the suggestions into practice or just read the menu items and wish for a taste.


Not only is it important to be patient with other people, it is important to be patient with yourself. These new attitudes and perspectives take time to develop into long-standing cognitive patterns. A river needs time to carve a gorge. Likewise, your new thoughts need time to develop entrenched neuropathways in your brain.


Today’s Loving Suggestion: If you choose (no pressure), take an honest look at your attitude. Does it need some fine-tuning? Are you as patient as you would like to be? Are you able to accept people for who they are as long as they do no harm?


What thoughts, beliefs, outlooks, mindsets, and opinions do you want to keep and which do you want to get rid of? It’s your choice. No one is trying to change you against your will. This is inner work, which comes from within yourself, not from others imposing their will on you.


If you have a few characteristics that you would like to change, write them down.  It helps to make a written list to look at. Seeing this list will remind you of your new goals, so place it in a location where you will be able to see it often.


I have found that changing my attitude changed my worldview. I am more patient and have less expectations of others. I feel more at peace with myself now. I wish the same for you.

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