Written by Ms. Berman
Attitude is like a virus. Just as a virus cannot exist without hijacking a host cell and taking over its machinery, attitude cannot exist without entering a person’s mind and becoming a part of his or her thought processes. Some viruses are innocuous and don’t have a significant impact on our immune system, just as some thoughts have little effect on our way of thinking. In addition, some viruses remain dormant within the body for years before rapidly invading a multitude of host cells and increasing at an exponential rate. These viruses, the ones left unchecked, are often the most serious, just as the negative messages cast into a person’s mind can crop up years later, creating an outburst of insecurity and self-doubt.
All of us hear negative messages spoken on a daily basis. The decision we have to make is how to respond to such messages. Useful questions to ask are “What are the odds that there is validity to this information?” and “How does this information benefit me?” It is critical to take the emotion out of the intellectual processing of such situations in order to properly assess the value of the many incoming messages that are flung upon us each day. We, as humans with the ability to reason, get to choose which statements we are willing to process and integrate as a part of our stream of consciousness (or subconscious mind). In addition, we choose which messages we will reinforce by either repeating such messages to our peers or ignoring them. The relatively recent emergence of the internet and smartphones has made it easier for “attitude networking” to occur. Thus, a simple statement, initially based upon opinion, can quickly start to appear as a fact as it is transmitted through a network of people in a short period of time. As humans, it is easy to forgo control over our cognitive processing center, and react on an emotional level to such statements as they typically elicit such a response.
The old clichés “thick-skinned” and “let that roll off your back” are applicable to the concept of attitudinal responses. Those who tend to be less reactive to the attitude networking that typically occurs in any group environment, will usually end up with fewer negative messages cluttering their brain. This requires filtering fact from fiction, but enhances autonomy and self-empowerment when it comes to decision-making down the road. There are enough things in life that are beyond our control. Attitude, however, is within our control and drives everything that we do in life. In fact, self-esteem and attitude have been proven to be more essential than raw intelligence when evaluating whether an individual will achieve success, happiness, and contentment in life. At the very least, if we listen with discretion and take control over what we are willing to internalize, then we can aim to develop more positive thought processes. Over time, the mind will be freed up of the influx of negative messages, just as the aim for a healthy body is to be virus-free.