/ˈætɪˌtud, -ˌtyud/ Show Spelled [at-i-tood, -tyood] Show IPA
1. manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., with regard to a person or thing; tendency or orientation, especially of the mind: a negative attitude; group attitudes.
2. position or posture of the body appropriate to or expressive of an action, emotion, etc.: a threatening attitude; a relaxed attitude.
3. Aeronautics . the inclination of the three principal axes of an aircraft relative to the wind, to the ground, etc.
4. Ballet. a pose in which the dancer stands on one leg, the other bent behind.
All four definitions are pertinent to this topic. Many years ago I heard a teaching that stated that your attitude determines your altitude, and I have never forgotten it. There was a brief explanation about aviation in the lesson, and then the comparative for personal application. I have in reality spent a lot of years struggling with actually manifesting it in my life during critical times, but I absolutely know it to be the truth. Whether we’re referring to a physics lesson, or one of the psyche, attitude – orientation and inclination – will always determine at what level you are going to travel, and quite possibly how much stability and control with which you do it. The real question is whether you are willing to take control over your disposition in order to change your position.
I don’t like to say the words “I can’t” about anything where I can avoid using the phrase. In most cases it is not the reality. I realize that a lot of people are put off by the concept of “where there’s a will, there’s a way”, but to be perfectly honest I find the enormous number of people that simply do not care enough to adapt just as off-putting. In the support group circles online, you hear a lot of phrases repetitively, and I’m not trying to be judgmental about it. After having gone through a devastating level of pain through most of 2006, I just know how easy it is to defeat self with certain trains of thought, and how deeply you can bury yourself in short order with it. I refer to that year often because it was the worst flare I’ve ever been through, but it was far from the only pain I’ve had to drag myself through like broken glass. The start of it was actually around a decade ago, and it has only been the last few months that I have regained any reasonable level of control in my life from it. When I see people say that they “can’t” give certain things up, or “can’t” do something, it just makes me shake my head. If I had known then what I know now, I’d have given up every wrong habit I was stuck in dietarily and activity-wise in an INSTANT just to have my life back. If I had the PT instruction then that I got last year, I’d have been on it immediately. I had been told I had to live with it, manage my pain, and it would never improve beyond a certain point – and I bought that. I believed the ”you can’t” professional opinions. I didn’t know any better.
Someone recently took issue with a comment I made about addiction being self-determined. It was a misinterpretation. I’m not interested in a debate about it, but for the sake of an explanation, it was about the choices we make in life. That’s not about having a genetically determined inclination to be addicted to anything, but it is most definitely about determining where you will direct your path – whether toward it, or around it. To decide that you have “no” control over it is an “I can’t” statement that really means you won’t, because you do always have a free will to exercise. You also have a massive frontal lobe in your skull that gives you the ability to utilize tools, both creatively and logically. Suffice it to say that I have had to face down my own battles with medications after being in too much pain to even be able to think coherently for months on end, so let no one ever accuse me of not knowing what it is like. That entire year is a very dark time to which I wish to never return. We hear all the time that a person has to want help before they can get it. It applies just as much to daily choices of a more ordinary sort as it does to addiction.
I take a fairly hard line approach to what I share with people about health, fitness, and quality of life. I realize that there is no one-size-fits-all outline too. Everyone has to be able to know themselves, and adapt concepts and information to suit their personal needs according to both capability and difficulty. I take such a no excuses stance because of what I have seen. I had a dear friend of many years whose mother developed diabetes, and she refused to make any changes. She said, “I’d rather eat what I want and die.” She continued on that path, losing toes, a foot, a leg, and eventually her life. One morning her husband woke up, and she did not. I lost a friend because her desire to indulge in whatever food she had a whim for at any moment was more important than quality of life – this isn’t even about number of years, although she was truly not old enough for this to be justifiable. I see people in the Lupus community say that lupus has already taken everything else from them and food is all they have left, and it horrifies me. Food is all you have when you make it your place of worship, but is that all you want to have? If that stings, I’m sorry for the twinge, but it’s time to suck it up and get real. I don’t want to watch anymore of my friends die because they believe “I can’t” so deeply that they have stopped trying. You only fail when you stop trying, and not until you do. If you made just one significant change in a day, or a week, by the end of a year just how much different of a person would you be? How much more life would you be living? It doesn’t matter if that is giving up soda, or taking a walk around the block. Or… learning not to say, “I can’t” to yourself all the time. Your attitude… your pitch… is all about that moment.
Oh my, how easily I could still be trapped flat on my back and in agony unceasing. People that know me today know a far more capable me than three years ago. The few of you that have been with me through this entire journey since my diagnosis know a little differently, but there are possibly only 4 or 5 people at most in my life that have seen me near my worst, most incapacitated. Only one has seen THE worst of it, because at my worst I just couldn’t leave the house. Even my family has not seen first-hand the intensity of what Lupus has done to me in the past. In all of that, the worst blow that was dealt was not physical. It was mental. The point at which I no longer felt I was capable of change, or had hope for improvement was where my attitude crashed me, and hard. I do know whereof I speak.
I’m not being a big meanie when I tell people something will hurt them, or that there are better choices. I’m doing it because I care about you, and I am genuinely scared for you that you are intentionally slaughtering your own chances for something better. I’m doing it because I have been there myself. I have been health conscious since age 15, but it has been a process of learning over the last 30 years to get to where I am at now. I have proven that what I am doing now is effective, and the evidence is in the positive changes that you have all seen take place this year. I am moving on to even better things. Lupus is present but it does not define me.
We are approaching a new year. Consider for a moment the tone you would like to set for the end of this one, and starting anew. If you’re ready to clean house, then do it. Let everything that happened in 2013 burn up to make room for renewal. Gain some altitude with me. I’ll be here if you need support. You know my word is good.