Accept, Behold, Create
Changing one’s attitude is not complicated, but it requires hard work.
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Step A: Accept the idea that a change is needed.
His mother worked with a former student of mine. When the mother continued to complain about her son’s behavior and grades, my former student encouraged her to enroll him in my classroom, saying, “Mr. Roberts can help him.”
He had chosen to hang with the wrong crowd at his middle school. His attitude was disrespectful. School was a bore. His grades fell almost off the alphabet. His mom was rightly worried.
Those four things are connected: hanging crowd, disrespect, boredom, bad grades.
There was nothing wrong with his brain capabilities. In fact, he was quite intelligent. But crowd and boredom and attitude combined to interfere with his academic achievement.
He had been kicked off the basketball team. That punctuated his bad attitude.
He really was behind in his academic skills and understanding. His choices during the past school year had determined that would be the case.
I have seen it over and over during my work in schools: Bad attitude results in bad grades which removes privileges. Then the student chooses to rebel against the loss of privileges with claims that the loss was the reason for the poor attitude, poor grades, poor respect.
Looking at it from the correct sequence takes courage and the willingness to admit, “I’m the one to blame.” “My choices caused this disappointment.” The school, his teachers, his parents – all warned him of the consequences of his choices.
Loss is always a disappointment.
But loss is always the result of poor choices.
To reverse the disappointment, and future losses, start making better choices.
Step B: Behold (Look at)
For the student I began telling about, acceptance and encouragement from the other students and the teachers gradually won him over. The influence of the other students who were eager to participate in class activities and work toward excellence, rubbed off on him, slowly but surely.
It really is true: Birds of a feather flock together. It is also true that you can change the flock you hang with and become like the new birds.
Keep what and who you want to become always in front of your eyes – keep looking at the goals.
Write a description of the person you want to become.
A written list of characteristics and abilities is important.
Include attitude words like, happy, eager, proud…
Include behavior descriptors that you want to achieve, like, leader, successful, high-achiever…
Search on the Internet for ‘positive attitude words’ and ‘positive behavior words.’
Add to your list the ones that resonate with you.
I encouraged my student to make his new choices visible. “Write one word from your two lists on a colorful Post-It Note and put it on the mirror, on the wall, around the house, on the TV screen, in the kitchen,” was my Prescription.
The Bible tells us, By beholding we become changed. 2 Corinthians 3:18
Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
My student found pictures in magazines that he could cut out and the whole class helped him post them on his desk, computer, and around the classroom.
This exercise can be thought of like the carrots used to keep work animals moving forward, incentives for you to reach a little farther, try a little harder, work a little longer.
Step C: Create a new reality.
See the pictures and notes and change your thoughts.
Change your thoughts and change your life.
We think about the things that occupy our time and attention. Music, movies, video games, social media – the more time we spend on those activities, the harder it is to choose something better.
Change begins with a choice.
Replace those things in your life that are moving you away from your new goals.
Choose to spend more time with books, nature, exercise, helping others, gardening. Learn to draw. Learn to write poetry and stories.
Read a book.
Instead of watching a movie, read a book, maybe even the book that was used to create the movie.
Get a list of books that everyone should read by age 12.
Or a list of books that everyone should read in their 20s.
There are lists specifically for men and for women.
The habit of reading is critical to creating the ideal You.
Change the music you listen to.
It is a known psychological fact that we like the music with which we’re familiar. We’re familiar with the music we listen to. So changing music preferences is simply a matter of making the choice and acting on it.
I recommend Classical Music. Many studies have been done documenting the brain benefits of classical music.
Everything in life begins with a choice.
What you choose to put into your brain/mind determines your attitude.
Yet, your attitude can strongly influence the choices you make.
Don’t leave it to chance. Choose. Be the master of your attitude. Use your attitude to improve your life.
My student got his act together, graduated from 8th grade, and will soon enter college.
You, too, can achieve success.
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