Typically, when it comes to New Year’s resolutions we think along the lines of changing our physical appearance by going on a diet or getting involved in an exercise program. We may focus on breaking a bad habit or resolve to accomplish a project we’ve been putting off. The commitment to make any of these changes is commendable, but there’s something else to consider in terms of change. William James, a philosopher and pioneer in psychology, wrote:
“Man alone is the architect of his destiny. The greatest revolution in our generation is that human beings by changing the inner attitude of their mind can change outer aspects of their lives.”
Unfortunately, the endless array of problems parading through our lives can leave us feeling jerked around by life itself. Here’s the problem with that attitude, though: if we see ourselves as mere victims of life’s circumstances, we sentence ourselves to an unhappy and powerless existence. Change is impossible under such conditions because our will is disabled. Maria, 48, was one such person. Her husband of 27 years left her for another woman. She didn’t see it coming, and to say she was shaken is putting it mildly. In our counseling session she expressed her despair. “It’s been a year since he left me,” she said, “and I’m still not over it.”
Regrettably, a full year of marinating in negativity had taken a toll—Maria had grown bitter. Over the months, she had retreated into a shell of distrust and resentment. “I was doing everything right,” she said, “and look what happened to me.”
William James would say that Maria’s inner attitude was her new enemy . . . responsible for fashioning the outer aspects of her life. No question, her all-engulfing sense of betrayal—by her husband and by life itself—paralyzed her from moving on and blocked her from being open to change and receptive to new love. In fact, her attitude was discouraging it.
Maria and I spent the next few sessions exploring the ways she was sabotaging change and how she could turn that around.
By the time she had finished her therapy, she had renewed hope and confidence about her ability to shape a new life for herself.
Yep, we truly are the architects of our destiny.
How have you been successful at changing your life by changing your attitude? I’d like to know. 🙂
Names are changed to honor client confidentiality.
(c) 2015 Salee Reese