Changing Your Circumstances

Changing Your Circumstances

How do you change your circumstances?

The first thing to do is look at the cause or source of your circumstances. Is this an internal issue or an external issue? If it is an internal issue, you must first address your thinking. If it an external issue, you must look at circumstances, determine what is needed to change and then… first change your thinking, then begin working on the desired circumstances.

In today’s world, many of us find ourselves in a downward spiral whether economically, physically or relationally. Our portfolio has lost 60%+ in value. Our health may be declining or our relationships are in stormy waters (or even on the rocks.)

How do you change such circumstances? How do you get out of the pickle you are in? What is interesting is that the solution to any such predicament first begins with the same answer. You must change YOU before you can change your circumstances. Your attitude and your thinking must first change. This iseven true when you have a positive attitude and the circumstances changed on you without you doing anything i.e. stock market crashing. You may be trying to hold onto the past and the past is no longer there: kids are growing up, friends have moved, people or job have changed?

The first thing to do in any area that needs change is to ask “What can I do to remedy the situation?” (not what Jane, Sam or your spouse can do to remedy the situation.) Asking or telling someone else what they need to do is not the first step. The only person you can change is YOU. You personally can not change anyone else. All you can control is you. So, how you react, respond, plan and act is all up to you.

Changing You

Zig Ziglar says (if you can’t tell, I love Zig Ziglar and have listened or have read a lot of his books and CDs) “You change what you are and change where you are by changing what goes into your mind.” What he is saying is that change first begins with you and first with your thinking and attitude. You cannot change anything until you first change your thinking. As Zig says most people are stuck in a rut with “stinkin’ thinking” and “need a check-up from the neck-up.” It is much easier to wallow in self pity and blame others for your circumstances, your relationships, and your problems than to point the finger at yourself. Our self image does not like to tell us that we are lacking and are responsible to change. Many do blame themselves but then they have a pity party on how bad they are and don’t address changing themselves. Our reactions to reality are generally: a) defense (point the finger or get in an argument b) flee –“ I’m getting away from this or you” c) pity – “woe is me” and/or d) do nothing – “I am who I am and that is that.”

Ways to change you

A definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Are you that person?

1) Change what you put into your mind – stop doing the same old thing. Start putting positive things into your mind. Change what you watch on TV (or don’t watch TV or the Internet). Listen to CDs or read books on positive attitude, goal setting, building positive relationships, financial planning, getting out of debt, being in good health, etc.

a. Most people are focused on entertainment, not personal growth. 80-90% of what we casually put into our minds is entertainment focused. Because we are focused on us (you or me) that attitude then determines how you or I act with or toward others – generally WIIFM (what’s in it for me?) Our entertainment determines our attitudes and actions!

2) Change your personal thinking – use affirmations – positive, personal, present- tense statements of the attitude or behavior you want – put them on your mirror, in your car, on your Ipod and listen to them as you work out. I write affirmations on a 3x5 card and read them first thing in the morning or on my car dash. Bible verses are great affirmations. Read them over and over and read them out loud. Your mind needs to hear you say these!!!!!

3) What you say will affect your attitude. Watch your words. Only speak positive uplifting words. If you get into an argument, don’t defend yourself; say nothing or even better, just say “I am sorry I did that to you.” Say nothing more. Words have a great impact. What you say determines your relationships. Many relationships will never change because of the words you say (even if you may be right, your words may be wrong.)

4) Ask – “What can I do to remedy the situation?” Since you can only control you, you must take the first positive step. Is your portfolio dying? Learn more about investing in tough times. Is your marriage on rocky ground? You must first change before your spouse can truly change. Is your health in jeopardy? Don’t look to your doctor to provide you with all the answers- get in shape, read up on what you are facing. Take some responsibility! Stop making excuses.

a. In marriage – generally the offended spouse looks for the other person to change first. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. The one offended generally has to take the first steps toward reconciliation. This requires a change in attitude, forgiveness, swallowing of pride and action.

b. In other relationships – if you are lonely – become friendly, initiate relationships. But you say “I am shy.” By saying that, you are enforcing your negative opinion and shyness. Use the affirmation “I am a friendly person and work to build relationships.” Change begins with you and your attitude.

c. Are you in debt and it looks hopeless? First you must cut back on your spending. But, that is not so easy. First change the attitude that got you into debt – spending money to medicate other pain, lack of discipline, self-centered, etc.

All behaviors start with an attitude

No matter what your situation, you can only change that situation when you change you. If you are looking for someone else to change, then good luck; it isn’t going to happen. My marriage got better when I started changing myself. My relationships got better when I learned to listen and ask questions instead of giving my opinion and talking all the time (I am still working on this one.) My relationships improved with my children when I asked “What can I do to keep a healthy relationship with my teenage daughters?” This answer not only required some specific actions, it also required an attitude change. I tell myself often “I must be available to have a positive relationship and I also must be willing to tolerate the actions of a teenager…give them some grace instead of always correcting.”

A great book that I am reading that addresses attitude and change is Believe That You Can by NY Times best selling author Jentezen Franklin. I will read this book again, as just reading it once, I only get a little from it. Reading it twice, I get double. I have read some books six times because there is too much to be gleaned in just one reading and I know that I won’t adopt what I just read with one reading. (We often lie to ourselves in that way “I read that, so I know that.” Knowing and applying are two different things. Knowledge without application is arrogance.

So, whatever your life circumstances are, change begins with you and the first thing you need to change is your attitude and thinking. Until you change, your circumstances most likely won’t. Remember insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.


Philippians 4:4-9

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, rejoice. Let your reasonableness (self control, gentleness) be evident to all. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication (making a list) with thanksgiving, make your request known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

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. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

This is all about attitude change. You do not see Paul telling us to go “do” anything but to pray first and foremost. Paul is encouraging us to change what we are putting into our minds (that means you and me – not your neighbor or your spouse,) to change your thinking. (This is encouraging you to stop watching the non-positive stuff on TV or on the Internet. This is also encouraging you to stop doing things that are not bad, but have little growth value which is generally 80% of your free time spent on individual entertainment. Instead use entertainment to build positive relationships.)

After you have changed your attitude, then your circumstances will begin to change. Your attitude will change your actions and that is why the last thing Paul encourages us to do “practice these things.” You can’t practice new behaviors without changing your internal thoughts.


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