Attitudes are contagious. Are yours worth catching? Dennis and Wendy ManneringSpringtime in this city at the foot of the Rockies is a time of black and brown and grey. This year, it includes a whole bunch of white. In a world where scientists and environmentalists worry about global warming, we're being doused with a big chill. Go figure.
Yet, colour smiles everywhere if I change my glasses and let go of grumbling about what I cannot change, and focus instead over what I have influence upon -- me!
The weather outside is yicky, and keeping the fire inside burning bright is tricky, when I lose sight of what I want, and focus instead on what I don't want -- more snow!
Can't change the weather. I can change my attitude.
Yesterday, I had to bar a client from the art studio at the shelter where I work. On the weekend, he'd participated in a verbal judo contest with another client in the art studio. Even after the other client had walked away, he had continued to curse and swear, telling anyone within twenty feet of him what was wrong with the other guy and how he was going to right the wrong with his angry outbursts. To make matters worse, a staff member was taking a tour through the studio and heard the entire altercation.
I didn't want to do it. Bar him. I had worked with this client over several months in an attempt to take his focus off, as he calls it, 'defending' the little guy. In his mind, what he's doing is standing up for 'truth and justice'. In my view, he's blaming everyone else for his actions and not being accountable for himself.
Yesterday, as we talked about what had gone wrong on Sunday he kept repeating. "But he started it. He had no right to say what he did."
"We're not talking about his actions right now,"I told him. "He came forward to the staff member immediately after the altercation and acknowledged where he was out of line. He's taken ownership of his 100% in the situation. We're here to talk about yours."
"But I didn't do anything wrong," he wailed. "I was just standing up for the other guys. He talked down about their art and was making fools of them."
"The other guys had no issue with what he said," I told him. "They took it in the manner with which it was delivered. As a joke. They chose to let it go."
"But what he said was wrong."
"That may be so, but it doesn't account for your response."
"Well what else was I supposed to do," he asked. "Nobody else would stand up for themselves. I had to do it for them."
When my daughters were young, I went to great lengths to differentiate between behaviour and person. "Your behaviour can be changed. Who you are as a human being is a miracle of life, a gift, a beautiful being. That can never change. Your behaviour is what we're talking about here. What could you have done differently?"
Sometimes, when they did something inappropriate, or threw a tantrum, one of them would cry, "But I can't help myself."
And I would respond. "If you can't help yourself, who can?"
Nobody is powerful enough to help you if you are unwilling to help yourself first.
For the client yesterday, what keeps him stuck in his place, is his belief there is no other way to bring truth and justice into the world than by screaming and yelling and fighting.
"I'm not doing this for me," he said. "I'm doing it for them."
And what is that getting you? I asked him. They're still up in the studio painting. You're here. No longer able to use the space.
He didn't have an answer other than to say, "It's always the same. Somebody else causes the problem and I get blamed. Nobody listens to me."
When he left the office I cried. One of my coworkers who had sat in on the meeting told me. "You can't help him if he doesn't want to see the truth about what he's doing. You're not that powerful."
No. I'm not.
But if wishes were horses, I'd wish for him a mighty white stallion to carry him away from the angst of believing he is powerless to change himself.
Last night, C.C. took another client, the man who went through Choices in February, to a Flames hockey game. When he got home, he was excited. "What a great guy," he said. "His excitement at being at the game was infectious. I had a wonderful evening."
Earlier in the day when he told me he was looking for someone to go to the game with him, I asked if he would consider taking T. He quickly responded. "Absolutely. That would be fun."
"I fall in love with you a little bit more every day," I told him.
T. is changing his attitude. He's claiming his power to make a difference in his life by focusing on what he wants more of, and letting go of what doesn't work.
For today, I can't choose the weather, I can choose my attitude. Make it sunny and bright. Make it a brilliant reflection of what I want more of in my life. Let me smile through adversity and skip through travails. Let me be the beacon of light only I can be when I live up to my best and shine bright! Let my attitude be contagious.
The question is: Is your attitude worth catching?