What Flavor Is Your Attitude?

Author:
Sharon May, Ph.D.


Is your attitude sweet, sour, bitter or spiced? Yes, you might be pleasant during everyday interactions, but what attitude or mood is right under the surface ready to spill out when you are hungry, tired, slighted or upset? Your attitude not only impacts what you say but how kind or snappy you say it, influencing the tone, mood and atmosphere in your relationships, including your marriage.

A person with a sweet attitude is someone who can stay centered and keep emotionally balanced when difficulties come. These people don't ignore or escape difficulties. Rather, they face stressful situations with honesty, kindness, maturity and courage. And when they are hurt or shaken, they pause to discover what's going on so they can constructively express their perspective and find solutions. They don't react to the wind of the moment and don't need to resort to irritation, anger or sarcasm to protect their hearts or get their point across.

A sour attitude is fueled by disappointment and frustration, often causing a person to say hurtful things as they shut down and sulk.

A bitter attitude is fueled by resentment, causing a person to react with a negative edge, harsh words or angry undertone.

A spiced attitude is one where you react according to your mood in the moment, not always aware of the impact on those around you. A variety of things can set you off, a dropped spoon, messed milk, a lost pen or the dishwasher packed incorrectly. Each day, your spouse isn't quite sure what will change your mood, causing him or her to also react negatively or walk on eggshells around you.

The hurts that sour your attitude

Unresolved issues in your marriage can impact your attitude. The inability to agree on a division of chores, the failed budget that has led to debt, a decline of intimacy, a lack of unity concerning in-laws, the clash involving how to discipline kids, the fuzzy future goals or an unprocessed betrayal. These unresolved issues create a pool of hurt and frustration that over time turns sour or bitter. It turns rancid under the surface of your heart and when shaken by your spouse it spills out, tainting your attitude and mood, and often causing you to view your spouse negatively or react in protest.

Choose your attitude flavor

Although you might blame your spouse for your irritation or bad mood, your attitude is really your choice. As many a spouse have confessed during a Safe Haven Intensive, "I don't like the person I have become; this negativity robs me of being my best self."

You decide your tone of voice, facial expression (including the size of your smile), your outlook on life, your attitude when things go sideways and the condition of your heart when hurt. Your spouse might shake you by what is said or done, but you get to choose your attitude and how you'll respond.

You can't blame your spouse for the flavor of your attitude. You get to pick it. And it is not your spouse's fault for the way you react. It is your choice.

A helpful exercise: Divide a piece of paper into thirds, and in the left column write the unresolved issues in your marriage. In the middle, write the ways your sour or bitter attitude causes you to react. And on the right side, describe what would be your ideal reaction or attitude. Maybe this would include things such as being more positive, appreciative, loving; willing to face difficulties with hopefulness, kindness, honesty and courage. The key to this exercise being, don't let your hurts keep you stuck in the middle column, robbing your marriage and your mate of your best attitude.

To foster a happier, kinder, more joy-filled attitude, keep a list of all you are grateful for in your life. Then choose to be your best version of yourself. Work to become someone who is emotionally safe, trustworthy, and who can face stress and difficulties in a healthy way … After all, you get to pick the flavor of your attitude.

"You must have the same attitude that Christ had." Philippians 2:5

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
Philippians 4:8

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