Why Your Attitude Is EVERYTHING

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Welcome to Format Free Friday, when I break the format of answering your questions and I dispense that which we rarely welcome in life: Unsolicited Advice.

I started physical therapy this week because I’ve been living with mild to moderate back pain for about 5 years.  And because I’m a dancer, it’s getting to the point where it’s holding me back in my training. So according to my physical therapist, in about 8 weeks, I should be pain free.

She told me this at the end of our session, just after I completed a questionnaire. The questionnaire measured my attitude about my lower back pain. I knew immediately what it was measuring but I didn’t know why…

ME: Why are you measuring my outlook on my pain?

HER: We always do before we start a patient in physical therapy. Turns out that if you’re not hopeful about the outcome, you’d be better off doing CBT [cognitive behavioral therapy] before starting physical therapy.

I was struck by this. I was at NYU’s Center for Dance Injuries. This was no fly-by-night physical therapy group. And if they were measuring my attitude about how hopeful I was that physical therapy can work, to the point where they would refer me out for therapy if my attitude sucked, attitude must be super important.

Of course I know this. I’m trained in Positive Psychology and I am 100% on board with the belief that we get what we expect to get in life. But what I didn’t know is that other professions believe it too.

So here’s your take away: Start physical therapy with a belief that it’s not going to work ~ and it won’t. Start psychotherapy with a belief that no shrink is talented enough to help you, and your shrink won’t. Try to fix a problem with an attitude that it’s insurmountable and it will be. Enter a conversation with your partner thinking it will never get better and it won’t. Attitude is everything in life. Decide what kind of life you want and adjust your attitude so it’s in alignment with what you want. If your life isn’t going the way you want, I’m betting your attitude sucks.