A New Attitude: Can Do!

sad face happy face Resisting change is innate in the human psyche rooted deeply in our fear and desire to control.  Grumpiness is the negative attitude that arises when  we are faced with the truth and choose to resist reality –  we can’t control anything other than what we are doing in the moment.

Any mental or emotional response to change, either in the form of attachment to the past, or aversion to what’s current, or fixation on the future,  is ultimately an expression of fear. Fear can manifest in many forms and be directed inwardly or outwardly. Our most deeply-rooted fear is the fear of death, and it’s frightening regardless of what age you are.  If we are to live well,  we have no choice but to overcome our fear.

The definitions of grumpiness include:  surly and peevish; cranky;  ill-tempered; discontentedly or sullenly irritable. That describes the emotions I have been experiencing since I awoke to a broken foot.

  • Grumpy was my response to spring weather that was cooler and wetter than usual as my bones ached and my broken foot throbbed.
  • Grumpy was my response to spending a small fortune to travel to medical centers and labs.
  • Grumpy was my response being tested and scanned over and over again while specialists puzzled over results that don’t match symptoms.
  • Grumpy was my response to hobbling around on crutches or cane and/or hopping on one foot.
  • Grumpy was my response to falling down twice and hurting my knee and hip.
  • Grumpy was my response to enduring a  fibromylagia flare-up through out this process.
  • Grumpy resulted in becoming withdrawn, falling behind in blogging and commenting but not feeling motivated to act.
  • Grumpy was my state state of being – a moment away from breaking down, bawling my eyes out,  and wallowing in a pool of self-pity.
  • Grumpy was the result of being focused on everything I could not do with a broken foot, rather than focusing on what I can do.
So how did I get to this place of suffering and what underlies my grumpiness? Sadly, it was by choice.  I was attached to spring unfolding in a specific way and when it didn’t I chose to resist change.  My response to the spontaneous breaking of my foot bones was fear wrapped in the garb of self righteous indignation — why me?

I was longing to get into fence mending, brush clearing, forest clean-up, out building clean up, spring housecleaning, mowing and weed wacking, etc. but those are impossible to do when hobbling about on crutches.  Change is inevitable. There’s nowhere to go from here but either down into depression (Nay!), or up into a better attitude (Yay!).  Despite my inability to do many things I expected to be able to do,  I’m aimed at overcoming fear and elevating my mood by focusing on what I can do.

Positive thinking helped me heal. It made me see the best of the world. It made me more aware. It made me hope. It made me live soulfully. It made living happily so simple. It is my only savior in my most trying times. — Zeenat in The Secret to an Unwavering Positive Outlook

Luckily, greenhouse and deck gardening are still on my “can-do “list though going up and down the stairwell by hopping on one foot or using a cane or crutches are not easy to do. As I can’t carry plants up and down my husband has rigged up a basket and pulley system for me to use.  (Love that man, I do.) So now I have let go of the desire to control and I’m intent on establishing a  new attitude: can do!

Discussion

I am an introvert and when I feel frightened and threatened I withdraw. I examine what’s going on inside me before I choose to act to take care of myself.

What do you do when you recognize you are feeling threatened and resisting change?

What steps do you take to pacify and comfort the fearful child within you?

How do you make the change in direction required to escape the negative  ‘can’t do’  thinking trap and adopt a positive  ‘can do’ attitude?

40 thoughts on “A New Attitude: Can Do!

  1. Pingback: It’s Painting Time « this time – this space

  2. Pingback: “If you can’t change your fate, change your attitude.” — Amy Tan « Sally Gilchrest-Unrau…So You Wanna Be A Writer (quotes, smiles, weird thoughts)

  3. Don’t be so hard on yourself, is my suggestion. With everything you’ve been through it is natural to feel grumpy, even angry. Life is about ups and downs and while I agree we have to find ways to move through situations I don’t think we should castigate ourselves for normal feelings.

    It is hard for me to put myself in the place of resisting change. Most of my career has been as a change agent – I think it is safe to say I actually enjoy change – bring it on! Not the sort of change you have experienced of late, of course – I am speaking of change generally. From a career perspective, if my job becomes routine (as it invariably does once all the change has happened) then I tend to move on to new challenges.

    Also, I am an extrovert (MBTI = ENFP), and a yellow quadrant HBDI.

    Agree totally that fear is not just in the mind. The basic flight or flight response is still with us and can be driven by either physical or non-physical threats that we perceive, such as your wolf-pack experience or let’s say a marriage breakdown.

    I’m trying to think of answers to your questions, but it is difficult for me. I think I could reasonably safely say I handle such threats by trying to change the threat itself if at all possible. Clearly some threats can’t be changed, such as a car bearing down on a person crossing the road. You can’t change your broken bones, other than ensuring you do all you can to help the healing happen.

    Sorry, I’m writing a post here not a comment! With that, I’ll tip-toe away……..

    • @ Robyn,
      Thanks so much for the words of encouragement and support. Normally I’m quite resilient. This experience was a different one and who knows how I will respond to the next challenge? I don’t. I can only hope that I can graciously accept and adapt. My bones will heal and I will cope with and address the underlying cause as best as I can.

      My personality type is INFJ.

      With love,
      TiTi

  4. I am an introvert as well. I heard introverts as being described as getting energy by being alone as extroverts get energy by being with people.

    When I am feeling fear I do not make any decisions. I wait until the fear has subsided and then I will make a decision.

  5. TT – Hope you don’t mind, but I added this site to my Blogroll. Put it under my “Mindful Life” category. I did it to promote you site, but also (frankly) because I’m lazy and want to visit easilly!

    Love what you’r doing here.

  6. Inspirational post. Sometimes you need to hear it – that you are choosing to be a pill. How could I possibly be the creator of my own grumpiness. I actually catch myself reacting poorly to a situation and I just stop in the middle of it and change course. I know the person that I want to be and just try to be aware of who I really am because they are different. I work on it all the time.

    • Just to put this in perspective I did not say anything grumpy to anyone. I was aware I felt grumpy and irritable but I did not act out.

  7. Sorry about the recent hurts, hon! Hope you’re feeling better.
    I give you total credit for the positive attitude. I tried it out and for a while it worked for me, but eventually it appeared to be just another warmfuzzy delusion in my life. The only way I can maintain a positive attitude anymore is if I don’t have to deal with or see people in any way, shape or form. I’m in therapy, but my misanthropy doesn’t seem to see any reason to change.

  8. Fear is the blackest place – the dark night of the soul. It is the antithesis of love.
    Love is the dazzling place – the daybreak of the soul. Through love we are borne out of the fear into our release and peace. It is the radiance of understanding and empathy.

    It’s only when immersing in and confronting fear do we have the realisation that having absorbed the fear, there is in fact, nothing to fear. That is the epiphany, the daybreak of the soul where the dazzling light seeps in and suddenly we are filled with the radiance of understanding.

    When we are immersed in our worst fear, we are in dread, we are cold, we are in complete darkness and shock and we do not understand and cry like lost children.

    When we emerge from the dark place into the dazzling light, instead of dread we are filled with wonder, instead of cold we are warm, instead of complete darkness we are in radiance and instead of not understanding we are enlightened and we laugh with the joy of life like happy children. We are liberated.

  9. It’s wonderful that you pulled yourself out of your *grumpiness* by focusing on what you could rather than couldn’t do. What we can’t do in a given situation is only one possibility, whereas what we can do is Infinity – 1 :)

    As for pain and dealing with it, when I did a Vipassana meditation years ago, my biggest realization was in relation to pain (and there was a lot of physical pain from sitting for hours in meditation): Pain is my resistance to what is.

    This applies to physical, emotional and mental pain.

  10. Ever since one of my yoga teachers talked about meeting new situations/people/events with love rather than fear, I have kept that in mind whenever I am faced with something that makes me nervous. Rather than fearing what’s new and different and uncomfortable, approach it with love, and see how that changes your experience.

  11. Enjoyed reading your thoughts, TT!….you always write with such sincerity and clarity….As for me, quiet moments of reflection are my best tactics for dealing with internal fears. As I analyze the roots of my fears, I also try to open myself to the different experiences of life…..being happy with what I have, and making the best of it. I hope you feel better soon :)!

  12. Great post! If I can recognise that I feel threatened and change resistant, I am already almost at the point where I can do something to help myself. I look for parallel times in my personal history and reassure myself that I dealt with this before and can do so again, after all I am still here. If I can remember positive things I did to help myself I will try them again. I guess that’s the first step. If not, I turn to people I trust and run my current dilemmas in front of them and the act of talking about them both diminishes their importance and helps me resolve them.

    Again I recognise the fearful child for who she is and allow her a little space, let her have an afternoon nap, time out, I allow myself to be kind to her, she doesn’t need beating up or a lecture from my adult self. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

    To change direction I try and focus on one small achievable task at a time. If something huge really really has to be dealt with, I make some toast, walk the dogs, and then dance up to the problem, saying “I’ll give it my best shot” – well it works sometimes.

    Dear TT I love your blinding honesty and forthrightness, maybe grumpy goes with the territory as long as it doesn’t take over, it’s just another emotion in the kaleidoscope of being human for me.

  13. I had to smile at all those adjectives for grumpiness. I feel you deserve to be grumpy at least a little bit with all this discomfort and extended disabled-ness. But yes, it’s not great on the long run and I’m inspired by how you are using your inner resources to pull yourself up and out and do your best to look at it with a new view. And in turn empowering others to do so as well.

    These are all such great questions you ask in the discussion section. I don’t have any magic answers. I know sometimes I’m able to make a 180 degree turn, but it’s difficult to say how or why. Sometimes the intensity simply pushes me into surrender.

    I love all your posts and am especially enjoying the person aspect you are bringing into some of your posts of late.

  14. I am somewhat of an introvert as well, and as you would expect, I withdraw whenever I need to work out a problem. My grumpiness usually occurs either when I haven’t come up with the solution, or am not yet ready to deal with the problem. I tend to turn my resources inward and my grumpiness is sort of a “stay away, I’m busy” outward reaction. I don’t get grumpy as often as I did the past (due to a change in my personal philosophy), but I still deal with it from time to time.

  15. WOO HOO!
    Everyone. I’m not ignoring you. I love you and your comments too. I have two appointments today and will not be able to reply to comments until after dinner tonight.

  16. That makes me look at grumpiness in a whole new way, great post. I actually love change, but I fear the moments leading up to it. That feeling where I know it’s the right thing to do, but I feel my heart pounding in my ears.

    For myself, I realized that once I know what I need to do, I have to act on it quickly before I get into a stage of analysis paralysis. Divorce, career change, moving cross-country fell into that category. Now I need to learn to carry that over to the small things..

  17. What we wish to do and what circumstances permit rarely coincide. When they do life is enjoyable and we cannot imagine why circumstances would change involving us…but they do.
    So your self-made enemy becomes fear. As you make the monster, you can destroy it by realizing that you can only control the moment. Life is under no obligation to fulfill any of our expectations, no matter what our attitude is…so live in the moment. My best.

    • Dear Count,
      You said that so wonderfuly well. It’s a lesson life presents us with over and over again.
      All my best to you,
      TiTi

  18. Titi, I’d been thinking of you, and when glanced to see you had sent me a link, I thought abut The Borg, when I read the word resistance. I clicked the ink and had to go downstairs to feed the kitties, then I ended up eating and relaxing … when I got back I read it and was impressed by the depth and range of emotions you covered. Really well written. Feel better soon and heal fast. :)

    • I’m so far behind in answering comments that I must offer everyone an apology, yourself included. Thanks for your kindness Theresa. My foot is recovering and I’m feeling much better now that my gardening is underway again.

  19. I know easier said than done. For all the stuff I’ve had to cope with in past 8 months or so, it’s been several major hurdles to mount in unexpected succession when life throws some major curve balls. It can be exhausting.

    • The loss of your sibling was unexpected and awfully hard to deal with. You moved and you started a new job in a new place. On top of that you have the 3 blogs. Your’ resilience ahs been remarkable and I attribute this to you choosing to take care of yourself.

      • I don’t know…except maybe some of my blogging might be therapy after all. All I know, is that I enjoy doing it and the subject matters that I write on.

        It’s been a long journey, TiTi. And when I look back, it feels like a dream.

        • You have had a challenging year. Blogging can be therapuetic and you are a gifted writer. As the events were ones you hadn’t predicted/expected I’m not surprised that looking back on the year seems dream-like. May your next year be a better one. :)

  20. When I am avoiding big decisions due to fear, I tend to become more sleepy! I kid you not. I have gone through sleepy spells because of this. It’s like a Rip van Winkle or Sleeping Beauty response and hope to wake up to a charmed solution fashioned for moi.

    Yea, sure. :) Wake up, self.

    To take steps climbing over that fear: it depends. But part of it, is first naming and articulating the fear in words by talking about or mentioning it to someone and it maybe the person I don’t want to reveal the reality, but I must tell them the news.

    Talking it out, helps give me abit of structure to something nebellous or wishy-washy uncomfortable.

    Plus some form of exercise and for me it’s cycling. The act of moving forward in an enjoyable way, releases knots of fear, frustration, etc. But it must be done often because it’s only temporary to keep one going forward.

    • Hi Jean,
      I can relate to that as well. There were times when I responded to fear in exactly the same way. I don’t find talking anything out to be helpful until I have walked it out and gone deep inside me to examine what’ss giving rise to the feelings. In this case I was afraid that I will have osteoporosis and that a bone disease I once had may rear its ugly head again in my life. However, it wasn’t until I went beneath the self-righteous indignation that gave rise to the “why me?” that I was able to home in on the underlying fears. In this case, of course, my typical walk it out pattern was not available.

  21. While I do believe the “fear” is a mental phenomenon, but physical condition do help us to overcome fear. I think positive thinking and positive physical condition both working together would be the most effective way for a fearless mind.

    • I don’t believe that fear can be allocated to only being a mental response. Nor do I feel that we can separate mind-body responses from one another.

      Here’s an example: When I was a young and walking through the bush close to our cabin, I was being stalked by a wolf pack. I did not “see” the wolves. My body told me there were eyes on me and those eyes belonged to an animal behind me. I did not stop and turn and challenge the lead wolf by making eye contact. I could feel his presence and I could also feel the presence of two others to the left and right of him. I walked steadily forward at the same pace blowing my silent dog whistle – three short blasts – help! Our dogs came for me on the fly with my father and his rifle right behind them. The wolves evaporated into the bush when they arrived. I never saw the wolves and my dad only saw a glimpse of three departing forms.

  22. TT-I so admire your ability to candidly self-analyze and pull yourself back out of the doldrums. That sort of awareness is invaluable. I think I’m pretty good at accepting things as they happen and things as they are. “Error is the failure to adjust immediately from a preconception to an actuality.” I agree absolutely with that John Cage quote. I try not to have any expectations.

    • Hi Marty,
      I became indignant and didn’t recognize that fear and attachment underlaid my grumpiness. From there is it was a downhill slide. Metaphorically speaking, it’s good to be in the sun again. :)
      Love,
      TiTi

  23. I really enjoyed this post, it really got me thinking. Seeing “grumpiness” as arising from fear is insightful and compelling. Might I contribute that “grumpiness” is also a reaction to the pain we feel at the change we fear and are resisting. Our being grumpy to those around us is an attempt to cause others to share in our pain. In so doing we hope to make them feel like we do so that they really see it in us, and thus they hopefully will act to stop the pain (not that they can, of course).

    Thank you for the post. I really love this site!

    • Your description of grumpiness and the motivation for it is fascinating. I nodded my head as I read it. Thanks for the positive feedback on my site. I post when I feel moved to. That was twice weekly but I’ve slowed down and expect to pick the pace up again soon. I have 3 posts in draft form that I will work on next week and hopefully published at least one of them. Thanks for the visit and the comment too. :)

  24. Congratulations on your new positive outlook. It took real courage to do – and blog about it for everyone to see – you definitely have the right stuff! Thinking of you & wishing you well…..

    • I have to face the truth and that is that my bones are breaking down. I have to focus on doing the best I can to strengthen them. There is no place to run and no place to hide from medical realities. I’m emotionally stronger now but still frail. Thanks so much for cheering me on.
      Love, TiTi

  25. Acknowledging your grumpiness and then choosing to move from that place is good advice. Thanks. I sometimes choose to wallow in my grumpiness while in a bubble bath sipping a glass of wine…………usually the mood mellows before my skin gets wrinkly.

    • I wallow in bubblebaths too and as this is Saturday evening taking a glass of wine along sounds good to me. The grumpiness has now passed or rather I’ve given it up. :)

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