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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Attitude, What Attitude!

How we choose to live makes a world of difference, and your attitude plays a big roll in this choice.  If you are positive and optimistic, then by nature you see the glass as 'half-full.'  If you are negative and pessimistic, then no amount of fluid in the glass really makes a difference. 

I consider myself an optimistic person, I try to see the good in all that is around me.  The last few days as I drove around, I noticed the piles of snow, some still brilliant white and some discolored by sand, dirt and whatever else has been plowed into it.  People hurried to their vehicles, others driving as if their life depended on it, everyone seemed to be in a hurry.  I wondered, however if anyone of them noticed the beautiful sky with its orange and purples hues, or how everything is blanketed in sparkling white.  Okay, I admit I love the snow for me it covers up the worlds imperfections, and somehow, adds a calm to an ordinarily noisy world.

Wonder and awe two things I hope I never outgrow.  I am one of those people who will spot the hawk in a tree, the geese taking flight, or the rainbow in the clouds.  There is just so much wonderment in this vast world of ours.  My husband on the other hand, curses the snow piles, complains about the ice, you name it.  I guess that's why we get along, we balance each other out.  I help him see the good, he reminds me that we also need to be aware and alert. Not a bad thing at all, we all need some checks and balances in our lives.

For me, I know it is my very attitude towards life that has brought me this far in my grief.  I have and always will try to look at everything from every angle.  When Rachel died, I of course felt the devastating blow, felt myself crumple under the weight of all the grief and pain, but yet, I somehow knew I would make it.  I knew then and still know now that with the help of others, with God and my faith and with a positive attitude I would survive, I will survive.  I knew that I would weather the storm.

Just like nature with all its fury, it too knows that the sun will come out, that the rains will subside, and that a seed lies waiting for the snow to melt away, ready to bloom in the spring when the sun warms the earth.  We are no different at all, we somehow weather each storm, face each adversity, knowing that with care and love, we too will grow, becoming a better, more resilient  person.  Yes, we grumble, we complain, we resist but when all is said and done, we emerge stronger, wiser and more capable of handling whatever comes our way.  We do not shed all cares and concerns, but we come to understand that they do not need to holds us back, or keep us under their grip, they exist, but do not become larger than life.  

All this is wrapped up in our attitudes, our perceptions and how we look at our 'glass.'  It is amazing how it truly impacts our coping skills, our ability to move on, to look for other ways through difficult times.  According to Mental Health Matters in the article 'Coping Attitudes and Skills": 'Attitudes contribute to a satisfactory coping response. A key attitude is to view change as a normal part of living, as opposed to a view that the transition is some kind of terrible curse, unlucky event, or unnecessarily difficult problem to solve'.  It truly makes a big difference, we become 'hardy copers' as the article describes.  These are individuals who 'are willing to take responsibility for their actions and do not blame others for the transitions that inevitably come into their lives.'  

How quickly we overcome, also depends on what is happening to us.  With the death of my daughter, I knew it would not be an over-night thing, I knew this was going to take some time, maybe even a life-time.  In the past four years I have grown, I have come to accept and I know that I will continue to do so, and that this event was life-altering and that much was and is still required of me.  Therefore, we all need to understand that there will be times in our life when we need to take care of ourselves, understanding that we will overcome and we will definitely make it through the storm.  To quote further from the article: 

The length of time required for satisfactory resolution of a transition depends on a number of mediating factors. Some key ones are:
  • The meaning that the transition has for the person;
  • The extent to which the person is aware of and expresses feelings about the transition;
  • Previous experiences with transitions and learning from them;
  • The availability of support systems;
  • Counseling;
  • Personal coping skills.
These factors play a role in how we manage through what we are facing and dealing with, especially the availability of a 'support system' and or seeking 'counseling.'  These two alone were a great help to me, and continue to be a great asset in my life.  I  had and continue to have a great support system, family and friends who make an effort to understand my pain, to understand the changes in me, and who continually accept that I am an ever evolving individual.  Someone who is a very different person than the person they knew just five years ago.    

Hey, but isn't that what makes life interesting, what makes every day worthwhile, not knowing what possibilities lie ahead.  Learning each and every day, getting over the little hurdles, conditioning and strengthening ourselves to overcome the more difficult obstacles.  We can consider ourselves life athletes, who practice every day in order to do their best when that big event happens, knowing that through all the pain, sacrifice and trials, we succeed, becoming the best we can ever dream of being.  The beauty of life is that it is continual, and like nature, the landscape constantly changes. 

So whether your glass is 'half-full' or 'half-empty' know that your attitude plays a big part in how you will get through whatever it is you are coping with.  Get support if possible from family and friends, seek counseling, don't go it alone.  If you know you tend to have a negative outlook, then buddy-up with a positive person, and let them work their magic.  By all means, look to yourself, look at how you have coped in the past with situations and draw from those experiences.  If you haven't had any previous experience in coping with a specific situation, then seek out someone who has.  Support groups are a wonderful way to listen to and ask questions of individuals who have already 'been there.'  

One of my favorite Bible passages is 'Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.' (Matthew 7:7) and I have always found it to be so true.  I have come to understand that unless we ask we can't get help, if we don't seek, we will not find what we are looking for, and unless we knock, no one will even know we are standing on the other side.  Therefore, live life, take in your surroundings, and live each day completely, filling it with 'wonder and awe,' even in the midst of all your pain and suffering.

Blessings! and until we meet again.

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