My Attitude to My Attitude
Many psychologists have made attempts to define attitude, how it is formed and how it can be changed. Professor Viktor Frankl observed himself and others in concentration camps of WWII. He deduced that if you remove normal attributes of life and when all dignity is stripped of you, all that is left that you own and control is your attitude. No matter what suffering was endured, those people with a healthy and strong attitude did not buckle mentally.
Attitude is a central and powerful force in defining and maintaining an individual’s identity, self-respect, drive and meaning. It is the most powerful human asset, as we keep the right to choose our attitude no matter what the situation we face may be.
So, what forms our attitude?
Psychology assumes that we are born neutral with no pre-determined attitudes. Our attitudes are instead learned from personal experience and information provided by others. They develop as we begin to interact with our environment and as significant others (parents, siblings, teachers) reinforce and discourage things we do. The opinions and judgements of significant others in our lives are passed onto us in early life, influencing our initial attitude even before our memory has formed.
Attitudes are formed as we develop opinions and assess new experiences. We assemble a picture of ourselves that can help or limit our potential. We see this picture as the truth and become blind to any alternative. It becomes our personal comfort zone. This image results in a collection of positive and negative self-beliefs. Restricted self-beliefs about our abilities or our perceived image can really hold us back and limit our capability in certain situations. But it is possible to change these restrictive, negative self-beliefs to become positive ones.
Changing our attitude
Attitudes are learned; therefore we can choose our attitudes and we can change them.
Changing our attitude starts with making the decision to do so. We can choose our attitude by acting out the attitude we want to have. This can help us to adopt that attitude and it will start to become natural. Making this change takes time and persistence, but it can be done with repetitive, reinforcement of the attitude by yourself and others.
A useful exercise to help change part of our attitude is Using Self-Talk. This aims to use positive statements to change our internal attitude.
Exercise- Using Self-Talk:
1. Identify something about yourself that you would like to change or strengthen- your attitude goal.
2. Write out a positive statement that sums up the goal.
3. Put this statement somewhere you can refer to it every day e.g. on your door, above your bed.
4. This statement should be personal to you, in the present tense and positive.
5. Visualise yourself behaving in this way.
6. “Feel” how it is to do this successfully.
7. Repeat the exercise regularly. Believe it is possible, because it is.
Remember that we maintain the right to choose our attitude no matter what the situation we face may be.
What is one aspect of your attitude that you want to change or strengthen?
This is a key part of what we do at ToolShed, both with staff and students.
If you’d like to know more or are interested in the work that ToolShed do we would love to hear from you. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org