How To Change Your Attitude When Things Are Not Going Your Way

5 Things You Can Do to Continue Moving Forward During Challenging Times

Our attitude determines our experience of life. If we have a healthy, positive attitude, we’ll be able to cope better when things are not going our way.

If we have a cynical, negative attitude, we’ll find ourselves struggling to deal with our challenges and make the changes necessary in order to get the results we want.

This quote from “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl emphasises the importance of our attitude. “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

What is Attitude?

Before we can change something, we must know what we are dealing with first. In order to change our attitude, we need to understand what it means.

The best definition of attitude I have learned is that it’s the composite of our:

  • Thoughts,
  • Feelings, and
  • Actions.

These three ingredients make up what we call our attitude. In order to change our attitude, we have to be aware of how we are operating at these three levels.

Ways to change attitude in life

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to speak at a TEDx event in India. As it was my first international speaking invitation, I wanted to prepare well. The good news was I had almost eight months to prepare for the event. The bad news was I had so much time to prepare for it.

As the weeks and months went by, I spend a lot of time outlining and planning my talk. The time limit for my talk was eighteen minutes so my presentation had to be succinct and structured well. I remember scripting out the entire talk and timing myself as I read through my script.

My first attempt was around twenty-four minutes so I had to cut out more than six minutes from my script. This is where my attitude was not the best it could have been. I started telling myself how difficult it would be for me to make my time limit and I may not convey some key points I wanted to make.

This caused me to start dreading the preparation process and I found myself not enjoying it at all. To change this, I decided to not focus on my talk for a few weeks.

A month before the event, I revisited my script outline and wrote a reminder on a card which said, “I am enjoying the process of preparing for my TEDx presentation, which will allow me to share a powerful message with the audience.”

A simple shift in my attitude made my final preparation so much easier and enjoyable. I was able to go to the event feeling fully prepared and delivered a presentation I was happy with to over a thousand people. If I hadn’t changed my attitude towards preparing for the event, I wouldn’t have given a presentation I was happy with.

5 Things You Can Do to Change Your Attitude During Challenging Times

  1. List down what’s not going the way you want it to go. When we get upset or start complaining about something, it means we have a mental picture of something better we prefer. By writing down the things we are not happy about, we then can start focusing on the opposite of those things, which often is what want instead.
  2. Use what’s not working to improve in some way. Sometimes challenges or setbacks can be used to make ourselves better. We can use what’s not working as a way to develop new skills in the area we did not achieve the outcome we wanted. If we have the attitude, “Everything’s feedback,” we can quickly shift our focus from what’s not working to how we can improve.
  3. Focus on what’s possible. Every challenge brings a new possibility. The law of opposites states that if something is wrong, then there has to be something right about it as well. Whenever we are facing challenges, we can shift our focus to the benefits of a situation or what could be possible in the future. A simple shift in focus can make all the difference to our attitude.
  4. Start thinking better-feeling thoughts. As our attitude begins with our thoughts, it’s wise to think better-feeling thoughts. Since our thoughts determine our feelings, if we first acknowledge what we are thinking and feeling, then start thinking more empowering thoughts, we will change our attitude quickly. Using positive words that convey hope is another thing that will generate better thoughts.
  5. Don’t take yourself too seriously. We often place high expectations on ourselves and beat ourselves up if things don’t go our way. If we accept that there will be times when we may struggle with our attitude and give ourselves a break when we find it difficult to think or feel positive things, we’re more likely to change our attitude a lot faster.

During challenging times, it’s important that we’re around people who have a positive perspective on things and can help us see things differently. If we continue to take positive action and focus more on what we can do for others rather than what we can get, we will get through challenging times with less stress and worry. We are always in control of our attitude therefore we can always choose how we look at our experiences.

Action Step: If you’re currently going through a difficult or challenging time, pause and reflect on your attitude towards what you’re going through. Start by identifying what’s not working the way you want it to and write out what you’d prefer instead. Give more focus to what you want.

Question: What is something else we can do change our attitude during challenging times?

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