The Diseases of Attitude: Change these three things and get the life you deserve

If you look at the meaning of “diagnosis” in the dictionary, it states “to determine the presence of disease from symptoms.” This would suggest we determine people are sick once the disease has already progressed. Most would agree it is better to prevent an illness from spreading or from even starting. On that basis, it makes more sense to expend resources on preventative measures.
The same philosophy applies to our mental state. For instance, have you asked yourself what factors are limiting your personal development? New research from Stanford University created by psychologist Carol Dweck identify attitude as a key to personal development. Merriam-Webster defines Attitude as a feeling or emotion toward a fact or state. In life, we are exposed to positive or negative occurrences, events and feedback. Things just happen – to you or around you. How we choose to react is based on ones’ attitude.
We are saturated with literature on positivity. Headlines like these may sound familiar: “The one positive thing every successful person does every day” “How to change your life with positive energy” Let’s not forget that negativity is also normal. We must anticipate that negativity will happen. Learning about how to handle it is critical. This means we must communicate it and anticipate how to handle the action.

From my experiences officiating football games, it’s interesting to take life lessons from the playing field. Imagine, if you will, a line of scrimmage. A line of scrimmage is that imaginary line on the field through which players cannot cross until the football is snapped and the play has started. The moment the ball is snapped, only the offense players know what play is intended to transpire because they have pre-determined the play during the huddle. Each player is aware of their specific assignment. They will handle what comes their way as they are anticipating it. There is a level of confidence and certainty that comes with this. This added confidence is reflected in their attitude. But what of the defense players? They need to respond, having to work out what to do based on movements of the opposition that are difficult to predict. How can they, being acted upon by the offense, have the belief and internal drive needed to counter the offense with confidence. As the legendary Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant famously said “Defense wins championships.”. Each player on the defense, even though they have less information, needs to believe they can stop the offense…everytime. That is attitude. An internal confidence that you and your teammates will play their position for the best probability to shut down the offense.

The more often success comes, the more confidence in the team, coach and strategy, further building that positive attitude. With success and attitude, one begets the other.
Attitude will drive our personal development as much as it does our chances at success. Similar to where we started with being proactive in dealing with diseases before the symptoms manifest themselves, we have to root out the negativities. The negativities are the diseases of attitude.
The late Jim Rohn discussed the diseases of attitude. In this blog, I have listed three critical diseases that can impact and overtake your progress in personal development. They are as follows:
1. Self-doubt
2. Worrying
3. Complaining.

1. Self-doubt: This disease is a risk factor for depression

Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D.,holds doctorates in both English and Psychology has linked self-doubt to low self-esteem, anxiety and depression. Symptoms are usually feelings of worthlessness and indecisiveness. Most of us are guilty of undervaluing our abilities and contributions which can prevent us from realizing our full potential. Think of things that make you nervous in life. The inner critic in your mind that asks; “What if I can’t do it?”, “What if people laugh at me?”, “What if I fail?”, “ Am I good enough?” These are your inner critics protecting you. Our brains are hot wired to protect us. Your behavior will not deviate from your internal mapping.
Contrary to popular belief, psychologist Peter Gollwitzer and his colleagues enlisted a study showing that announcing your goals to others, decreases your chances of achieving your goals. Gollwitzer believes this is due to the sense of identity and wholeness. It’s a symbolic act of who you are going to be. Additionally, just in the act of announcing your goals, you feel good and achieve some immediate satisfaction. Satisfaction that diminishes your drive to achieve the goal. And, more damaging, because you now are faced with pressure to achieve those goals, you are worried and less productive. People will keep track of how you are doing as if to see when you will fail. It starts creating self-doubt and you question whether you will achieve those goals. But when you don’t announce your goals, it’s much easier to achieve them. Yes, write your goals down, set up a road map and all those things. Just do it privately. The pressure isn’t there.
When I hear my “self-doubt voice” ask me “What if I fail?”. I tag that self-doubt voice, I then have an internal dialogue asking why I feel that way. Then I uninstall that voice. It must be deleted from my system because it’s not adding any value to my temperament. Next time you have any self-doubt dialogue, tag it and uninstall it. Use that mental rehearsal. Self-doubt mindset is a  habit and can be changed. Control your controllables.


“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced” – Vincent Van Gogh
Some strategies to cure this disease:
1. Give yourself credit for what you have done. The accomplishments are real. They are yours. Own them and be proud of what you have achieved.
2. Be willing to focus on consistency and build momentum of believing in yourself and not under-valuing yourself.
3. Surround yourself with accountability partners/mentors who lift you up. People who have your personality mirror who see what you don’t see.
4. Monitor your attitude to avoid falling into a depression.
Self-doubt is destructive. Look at the symptoms and seek a cure.

2. Worrying: This disease can increase your blood pressure and in high levels lead to heart attack or stroke

Worrying kills performance, dreams and enthusiasm. Some of us are professional worriers. This can be very crippling. The thought process often goes from exciting to being fearful and back to being excited again. It’s a roller coaster. Worrying triggers those stress hormones that elevate your heart rate and breathing. Similar to an anxiety attack. Negative thoughts are created adding additional stress.

A friend presented an outstanding Request for Proposal document to a potential supplier. The response was to be announced within five business days. He had all the qualifications, background, skills they were looking for and even outlined the advantageous return on investment to the potential supplier. He spent the entire week worried about the results. He could not sleep, and it became unbearable to be around him. Imagine what it did to his disposition. It was a good two weeks later when he found out the results. Unfortunately, his stress level was too high as he had not taken time to look after his health and suffered a minor stroke. He has since recovered but it was a lesson learnt. Unnecessary worrying is destructive.

On another occasion, a student from my Girls Empowerment program told me how she could never say no to her best friend. She would spend time trying to figure out how to say no. She could never find ways to turn her down. I told her when you say “no” you are actually saying “no” to the request and not to her friend. Additionally, by not saying NO, the “yeses” lose their value.
As we get older, we worry less.


I used to be worried and obscured by every little thing that happened. Then I created a worry project to understand the concept and concluded we worry about the following:
1. Things that never happen: 40 percent. These are things you worry about that will likely not occur anyway. Example, what if I go to California and get caught in a wildfire?
2. Things in the past that can’t be changed: 30 percent. The email that you sent to the whole company that was meant for one person. Ouch, but it’s done.
3. Worries about our health without the full medical diagnosis: 12 percent. You get a belly ache. You then decide you have a terminal illness. You google it and now you worry because Google tells you the symptoms could be terminal. Your worry threshold goes up.
4. Petty, miscellaneous worries: 10 percent. What am I cooking for supper tonight? Will I get to the grocery store before closing time?
5. Real, legitimate worries: 8 percent. Only 8 percent of your worries are worth concerning yourself about.

It would seem that 92% of what we worry about has no merits. Here is a cure for the worry disease. I call it the STAR technique. What we worry about is what we tolerate.

S– ilence the noise by only dealing with facts. What are your non-negotiables? Categorize requests as yes versus no. Proactively root those out so you know the true situation versus worrying about possibilities. Your friend is between homes. He/she wants to stay with you temporarily. They overstay their invite. You worry about what they will think if you say “no” Yes, you can stay at my place for a few days. No, you can’t stay for a month. Yes, I can help you with the project. No, I will not do the project for you so that you get all the credit. Know your limits so that you do not have to worry about the possibilities.
T-ime –set a time to worry every week. This strategy works well. If you decide to book every Friday to worry, anything that gets in your way can have a slot in your worry day. “Will I get that job” I will slot that worry on Friday at 2.
A-anlyze who is causing you some grey. Is it your relative, client or mmm…your boss? Evaluate what it’s doing to you. Do not tolerate situations or people who create a negative environment. Are you tolerating that client who is high maintenance? What tough conversations do you need to make? It adds to your worries. Get that monkey off your back.
R – itualize what makes you strong. Do daily rituals to make you the best. Having some “me” time. Rituals have to have a positive impact. Good rituals are a direct impact to your success. Getting up and looking at your cell phone first thing in the morning sabotages your day before it even begins. Tristan Harris, a former ethicist at Google wrote “Looking at your cell phone first thing in the morning frames the experience around the menu of all the things I’ve missed since yesterday” This is not a ritual to improve your performance. What ritual makes you a productive person? The gym in the morning, meditation etc. Whatever the ritual is, make sure they are habits to make you feel empowered and worry free.

3. Complaining – This disease rewires your brain to attract negativity

It increases your stress hormone and can cause weight gain, heart attack or even a stroke. According to the Daily UK, we spend an average of 8 minutes 46 seconds a day complaining. Jim Rohn provided a great visual in the following statement: “Spend 5 minutes complaining and you have wasted 5, and you may have begun what’s known as economic cancer of the bone. (If you complain), they will soon haul you off into a financial desert, and there let you choke on the dust of your own regret.” That is a profound description. We all know someone in our life who no matter how great things are going, they find things to complain about. They will complain, whine, and frown and repeat.

To say we should never complain is unrealistic. We should have a complaint base. The kind of complaining that is reasonable would be one that serves a purpose. For example, calling the Information Technology department saying your computer isn’t working. Some complaints have no purpose. Some examples include complaining saying “I am not tall enough”, “it’s too hot”, “the coach should not have made that call during the game,” and on and on. We do need a level of complaining however, It is critical to understand why we often complain:

1. We feel life is unfair. You worked so hard and the other person barely tried, and they got what you feel you deserve.
2. Excuse for bad performance. My golf game today was off because of the wind.
3. To get attention and inspire some envy. You just bought a new car but yet you complain that the dealership didn’t bother to wash the car when you picked it up.
4. Complain about power. We see this often during elections. The last candidate promised to cut your taxes, yet they didn’t.

If you spend time with people who complain, you will feel the effects. Complaining is like smoking. You don’t have to experience it to see the effects.


How to control complaining
1. Gratitude – Put things in perspective. Instead of focusing on what elements in your day did not turn out the way you like, write down the things that were good – even the small occurrences.
2. Use an elastic to make you aware when you complain. Put a band around your wrist during the day and every time you complain or think about complaining, snap the elastic. Then say three good things that are empowering – or for which I am grateful. This will make you aware of when you complain. You will correlate complaining with pain.
3. Create a complaint free zone – For example your kitchen table or kitchen in the office space.
Create the antibodies to remove this epidemic. Complaining diminishes your efforts to build a positive attitude.
Attitude forms personal development. You can be proactive in developing immunity to the diseases of attitude by simply recognizing negativity is caused by self-doubt, worrying and complaining. It is all curable. Stay tuned to my future blog on the six other diseases that impact attitude.

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” ― Epictetus

About the Author
Harriet Tinka is the #1 Expert on Turning Points, Co-Author of The Secrets to Living A Fantastic Life. Attitude is one of the chapters in the book.
Source: The Essence of Success by Earl Nightingale. Edited by Carson V. Conant.

Thaik, C. (2013). Self-doubt destroys the heart, mind, body and soul. Huffpost Healthy Living.
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