Choosing our Attitudes

I’m judgmental. Oh, I don’t call it that. I name it anything else, from discernment, to people skills, or even self-protection. But the truth is that I categorize people and events and put them in the pigeon holes I believe they belong in.

pigeonholeCategorizing is a valuable skill, one that is necessary for communication, for understanding, even for living. It’s important to know that a skull-and-cross-bones means poison. When someone tells you,”You’re getting hotter,” it’s good to know if you’re playing a find-the-token game, or you’re going to burn your hand, or it’s some kind of a sexual innuendo.

The problem is, once we’ve categorized something or someone, it’s really hard to move them out of the box we’ve put them in—in our minds, in our families, in our communities, and in society. Everything we see and hear filters through what we already “know” and becomes proof in our minds that our labels are truth.

The only way to move someone or something out of our chosen category is to CHOOSE to think, speak, and eventually feel differently. It’s an active verb, and it’s one we all have access to. Our circumstances often limit our physical choices, but we can always CHOOSE our attitudes and beliefs.

I’ve been alternately sad, mad, insulted, irritated, and disgusted listening to news, reading and responding to personal insults on social media, or reading newspapers. I’ve moaned about all the people “out there” —and in that category I’ve included many of those who disagree with my point of view. So while I’ve been labeling others as name-callers and haters, I’ve been participating in the same thing, just more politely.

There are exceptions: people I know, respect, and love who view the world through very different lenses. We dialogue respectfully and sometimes even move a little closer to each others’ way of thinking. But I have been withholding this courtesy from the masses of you who I don’t know and will probably never meet.

I’m holding myself accountable to my readers. I CHOOSE to change my attitude by practicing different thoughts, different speech, and slow down the categorization process. I will write down prayers and blessing and use them when I have trouble breaking through my emotions. Gradually, I hope to come closer to God’s kind of love for all.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12: 30-31


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