Attitude Reconstruction began as a Blueprint; a complete guide to our six emotions and the predictable things we think, feel, say and do as a result. In the process, I discovered that our emotions, as well as our behavior, exist in opposites -- sadness and joy, anger and love, and fear and peace. Furthermore, I divided all of the actions, thoughts, and feelings associated with each emotion into four core attitudes.
It wasn't until years later, however, that one over-arching concept (an Ultimate Attitude) emerged from the four attitudes connected to each emotion. There are three destructive Ultimate Attitudes associated with sadness, anger, and fear.
The three destructive Ultimate Attitudes are that we:
- Get down on ourselves (indicates unexpressed sadness)
- Don't accept what is (born of unreleased anger)
- Overgeneralize and hang out in the future or past (due to stored up fear)
I'm not going to expand on our destructive Ultimate Attitudes but to say that they are very familiar themes that cause us pain. These attitudes manifest in how we act, speak, think, and feel. They are the underlying issues that create our unhappiness. We all know folks (maybe ourselves) that super excel in one or more of these crummy attitudes.
Conversely, there are three constructive Ultimate Attitudes, associated with joy, love, and peace. Embody these and you will be truly free.
Here are the opposing three constructive Ultimate Attitudes.
- Honor ourselves (indicates we experience joy)
- Accept people and things (brings us love)
- Stay present and specific (lands us smack in the now)
The three constructive Ultimate Attitudes are universal concepts that are at the root of every major religion and philosophy. I believe that to be "enlightened" means that we truly and deeply live by these three principles.
Ultimate Attitude #1 -- Honor yourself
Honoring or loving ourselves means that we unequivocally know that we are whole and complete. We are worthy and perfect regardless of what we do or have; we are self-reliant, full within ourselves independent of others opinions and judgments. We appreciate and respect ourselves, and we speak up and take action aligned with what we know is best in our hearts.
Ultimate Attitude #2 -- Accept other people and situations
Accepting what is means we keep our focus on our own domain, our heart, and act from our intuition, rather than being reactive or governed by what others do, say, or have. We accept what is presented with equanimity and then respond from a place of love; we appreciate and look for the good in our world; and we give without a selfish motive.
Ultimate Attitude #3 -- Be present and specific
While the value of staying present is very popular in today's culture, the need to remain specific is not, but "should" be. We use specifics in architecture, all fields of science, music, engineering, medicine, and cooking, but were not taught to stay specific in our thinking and communicating. We can handle any problem if we stay focused on just that without bringing in the kitchen sink. We can be understood and find workable solutions if we stay concrete.
It's Never to Late to Change Your Attitude
And how do we learn to live by these three Ultimate Attitudes? With vigilance and practice. The way to do this is simple: handle our emotions physically and constructively, keep entertaining constructive thoughts, check within for guidance, communicate following Attitude Reconstructions 4 rules of good communication ("I"s, specifics, kindness, and listening), and act in alignment with our hearts. Each time we do, we feel good. When we make a misstep, make the correction and proceed.
For instance, it's easy to enliven the constructive Ultimate Attitudes by changing our thinking. Select one or a couple of Reliable Truths from the ones below and repeat them tenaciously, ignoring all the competing chatter. Write your truths on a 3x5 card. Then, when you notice you've slipped into a comparison, repeat, and repeat, and repeat until you truly get it.
* * * * * * * *
TRUTHS TO HONOR YOURSELF AND MOVE FROM SADNESS TO JOY:
* What I'm seeking is within me.
* My job is to take care of myself.
* Life is for learning. We all make mistakes.
* I'm doing the best I can. OR I did the best I could.
* My viewpoints and needs are as valid as yours.
* I am responsible for what I think, feel, say, and do.
* I can do this.
* I love myself regardless of what I do.
* * * * * * * *
TRUTHS TO ACCEPT PEOPLE & THINGS & GO FROM ANGER TO LOVE:
* People and things are the way they are, not the way I want them to be.
* My focus is myself.
* What he/she thinks of me is none of my business.
* He is doing the best he can. She did the best she could.
* I accept you no matter what.
* We are all on our own paths.
* Your viewpoints and needs are as important as mine.
* We can handle this together.
* How can I help? What can I do?
* * * * * * * *
TRUTHS TO STAY PRESENT & SPECIFIC & MOVE FROM FEAR TO PEACE:
* Everything is all right. Everything will be all right.
* This feeling is temporary. This situation will pass.
* Stop. Breathe. Slow down. Be here now.
* Stay specific.
* One thing at a time.
* I'll handle the future in the future.
* I'll do what I can, and the rest is out of my hands.
* Everything is unfolding in its own time.
* Let go. Have faith.
* * * * * * * *
You can "power" on them as a solo activity, like a meditation; while doing other things, such as showering, driving, exercising, waiting in line, or not sleeping; and as a substitute when you realize your thinking is funky. 100,000 reps should do it! Just think about the number of times you've thought the opposite. And feel the benefits of reframing how you interpret your every moment.
Continually comparing yourself and your accomplishments to others is a no-win situation. You fuel your sadness and feelings of unworthiness every time you think someone else has something you don't. The antidote? Shift your focus from out there to in here -- back to yourself.
Select a couple of truths that will support you in your commitment to honor yourself (The first Ultimate Attitude). Here are some possibilities: "What I'm seeking is within me." or "I love me." or "We're all on our own paths." or "I'm doing the best I can."
An Attitude Reconstruction faithful relayed the following exchange he had with his not very accepting wife recently. While they were driving in the car running errands she became increasingly focused on and critical of a bike rider in the adjacent bike lane. She wondered aloud why the cyclist was doing this, that, and the other thing and not riding correctly. (This is the epitome of the second destructive Ultimate Attitude -- not accepting other people and things and instead judging them negatively.)
Miraculously, she stopped herself mid-sentence and turned to her very patient husband and asked, "What is it I'm supposed to be saying to myself at moments like this?" He gently reminded her "People and things are the way they are, not the way I want them to be." She replied "Oh, yeah. I've got to remember that." And he smiled and offered a silent prayer of thanks.
This cute video embodies the spirit of the 3 Ultimate Attitudes in 45 seconds.
©2019 by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
All Rights Reserved.
Book by this Author
Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life
by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
With practical tools, real-life examples, and everyday solutions for thirty-three destructive attitudes, Attitude Reconstruction can help you stop settling for sadness, anger, and fear, and infuse your life with love, peace, and joy.
About the Author
Jude Bijou is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT), an educator in Santa Barbara, California and the author of Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life. In 1982, Jude launched a private psychotherapy practice and started working with individuals, couples, and groups. She also began teaching communication courses through Santa Barbara City College Adult Education. Visit her website at AttitudeReconstruction.com/
* Watch an interview with Jude Bijou: How to Experience More Joy, Love and Peace