Project 17: Dynamics of Positive Attitudes
Reminder Card: Dynamics of Positive and Negative Attitudes

Project 18: Dynamics of Negative Attitudes

As in the previous project, Dynamics of Positive Attitudes, this project begins with making a list. This time the list is made up of all the things you don't want from life. While I no longer have my original list I am sure it contained things such as loneliness, worry, frustration, etc. But that was over 20 years ago. Today I would think more of items that pertain to the important relationships in my life and the legacy I might leave in my work and my family. Interesting how a list like this can change over the years. But the exercise is still relevant because it links your list to personality (attitudes in action) and attitude activators.

This time the attitudes which impact personality are negative: envy, greed, anger, cynicism, and the like. Bob Conklin suggests that all of these come from the activators of Fear, Doubt, and Hate. I can't say that Hate has been much of a player in my life but Fear and Doubt sure have. Mostly the fear which leads to self-pity or inferiority and the doubt that leads to indecision and criticism. On the DiSC map I fall into the reserved and introverted region so this is not surprising, but this self-awareness has helped me understand, and often manage, my behavior. I wish I could say I was becoming proficient at this self-management but I am not. It has been, and will continue to be, a life-time project.

The aha in this exercise is once again the realization that we have the power to choose our thoughts (attitudes) in any given set of circumstances. The example we like to offer during this part of the program is Victor Frankl and the experiences he shares in his classic book, Man's Search for Meaning. It would be hard to find more extreme examples of choosing your attitude under negative circumstances than those found in a concentration camp. Makes being caught in traffic seem extremely trivial by comparison and yet we find ourselves with negative thoughts during those experiences.

According to Bob Conklin only 5% of adults realize which thoughts they are carrying - negative or positive - at any given moment. While I am not aware of any scientific study of that statement it certainly makes sense based on my own experience. Try it yourself for a day. Set a timer on your computer to interrupt you throughout the day and check yourself on whether you are, at that moment, thinking positive thoughts or negative thoughts. You will probably be amazed at how totally unaware your were. So, AiA has given me a greater awareness of this problem and I can say that my ability to tune in to my thoughts and take charge of them has been enhanced over the years.

If you would like a copy of the chart - Dynamics of Negative Attitudes - just ask!

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