COUNSELOR'S CORNER: The internal freedom of having a loving attitude

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Whenever I think negatively, I put myself into an emotional prison. A judgmental attitude toward others creates internal negativity. We all have this choice to be positively uplifting or negatively discouraging. When I have an internal attitude of negativity, I do not help other people and I do not help myself. When I vocalize my negativity to other people, I harm them and I harm myself. I create a depressing attitude which causes other people to focus on what is wrong rather than on what is right.

Internal freedom is a result of an attitude of love and affirmation. Internal freedom emerges from positive attitudes and positive expressions of love and affirmation about people, life, and circumstances.

The loving and affirming person creates within herself or himself an oasis of internal freedom of positive and loving thoughts and actions.

Think of the positive and loving people you know. Examine how they treat you and how they treat other people. Focus for a minute on their words and actions.

When I do this, I discover that people like this always make me feel better when I am in their presence. Positive and loving people influence me to be positive and
loving. For a positive and loving person, life is not about assuaging their own ego. It is about bringing out the best in others by sharing positive and loving viewpoints and sharing positive and affirming words.

Often, I have found myself connecting with others by engaging in criticism of other people. It never really draws us closer though at first it appears like it will.

When I engage in a negative and criticizing attitude about others or about life, I create within myself a depressing attitude. It is like I am looking at life with a pair of glasses that can only see what is wrong and not what is right about people and life.

In a pandemic world, this negative attitude seems to easily accessible. A positive attitude can seem so distant at times.

Most problems in a marriage and in a family result from negative internal attitudes and expressing negativity toward others in words and actions. Telling you how wrong you are about something does not motivate you to make a positive change. But looking for the goodness in you and telling you about the goodness in you can easily motivate you to be better. It can even influence you to think more positively and act more positively.

Have you ever been with someone in a restaurant who expresses a negative attitude toward a waiter or waitress? It is like a dark cloud comes over your table and overshadows everything. And think of the time you have been with someone who is cheerful and affirming to your waiter/waitress. It is like a feeling of love and optimism covers your table.

As I look over my life, I am realizing more deeply that whenever I have been negative in thoughts and words, I did not feel uplifted or loving. But I also am realizing that whenever I am having a loving attitude towards someone else and expressing it in words and actions, kindness and affirmation, I myself feel uplifted and positive. At these times I walk through life with an uplifted attitude and can see more goodness everywhere.

 The best way out of a depressed or down attitude is to make a determined effort to act positively toward someone else. It is also making a determined effort to look for goodness in whatever I might see and whomever I might see or experience. A determined positive and loving attitude is a choice everyone can make.

This choice will push me into an attitude of love and freedom. It will push me toward an attitude about a loving and caring God that I don’t have to worry about defining but only about experiencing more deeply.

The internal attitude of loving others and the consistent effort to be loving and positive is so powerfully effective in living a healthy emotional and spiritual life. But even as I write this article, I want to apply it to other people whom I think should change. This is negativity and spiritual narcissism on my part. The only person I need to apply this article to is myself. I can share this with you, the readers, but I must not be applying this to anyone else except myself. If I can practice this attitude of being positive and loving in thoughts and actions, then I can have a loving internal attitude in which I will experience a personal freedom of love and humility. This internal attitude of love and humility can help me to be a simple loving force of love and positivity for others.

Internal freedom means that I don’t have to worry about how the world should be. My only worry is that I keep making the effort to be more loving and positive towards everyone. In this effort I will experience a profound internal freedom and without even knowing it, I can be a positive, uplifting force in this world. A good life is about having internal freedom, an uplifting attitude and bringing more uplifting love to everyone. They all go together. There is such goodness in everything and everyone. But my loving attitude and actions can help bring this out of people and help others to see and experience goodness. There is great internal freedom and joy in being positive and loving in each moment of life. The goodness of love and the goodness of God is in everything and everyone but I will only see this if I make the determined attitude to have a loving attitude in thoughts and actions.

I just read a story that was in the New York Times about Pope Francis. When he was 21 and, in the seminary, he was very sick and in the hospital. His lungs had filled up with fluid. The doctors had given up on him and really thought he would die. Two nurses stayed with him and kept caring about him in a very kind and loving manner. Their attitude was loving and positive. And he lived!

Maybe I can bring more life and love into the world by having a loving and positive attitude towards everyone.
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Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage & family therapist and limited licensed psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center. He conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Michigan. Cavaiani is associate editor and contributing writer for Human Development Magazine. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 248-362-3340. His e-mail address is: Fredcavi@yahoo.com and his website is FredsCounselorsCorner.com.