Challenging myself to accept responsibility for my attitude

How gratitude helps me avoid blaming others for my negativity

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by Sean Baumstark |

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I can’t put my finger on exactly what triggered my recent musings about responsibility, but apparently, we can’t escape our thoughts. Trust me, I’ve tried.

My last column focused on the heightened sense of responsibility I’ve learned to accept as a disabled individual. Since then, the topic has come up at least twice on “Two Disabled Dudes,” the weekly podcast I co-host.

Last week, fellow Friedreich’s Ataxia News columnist Matt Lafleur came on the show as a guest to discuss his mindset and perspective about living with Friedreich’s ataxia. Our discussion prompted more reflection on the sense of responsibility I’ve been contemplating lately. Naturally, his point of view has further challenged my outlook on life — specifically, my attitude.

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My negative energy isn’t someone else’s fault

We’ve all heard or read it: “Attitude is a choice.” I can’t argue otherwise, but I do recognize that I don’t always embody that principle. Instead, when I’m frustrated with my situation or another person’s actions, I think of someone or something to blame.

Although I know I determine my attitude, if my morning brew isn’t just right, I’ll blame my irritability on the barista. When someone parks in an accessible parking spot without a visible disability placard, I’ll act as if they’re at fault for my negative energy.

I never say I’m annoyed or frustrated because of anything specific, but the reality is I act like it. And we all know that actions speak louder than words.

That led to my recent realization that I’ve yet to accept full responsibility for my attitude.

I’m unsure how to address this conundrum, but I’m grateful for the challenge of doing just that. I’m also thankful that writing this column and engaging in thought-provoking discussions on my podcast contribute to my personal growth.

Perhaps gratitude is an excellent place to start.

Instead of being irritated that my coffee tastes terrible, maybe I can be grateful that most baristas are quick to remake my drink if I’m patient. Instead of being annoyed that my favorite accessible parking spot is occupied, maybe I can be grateful that I can still walk.

These aren’t earth-shattering ideas; in fact, they’re pretty simple. But perhaps that simple practice of giving thanks is just the right antidote. After all, having a bad attitude because there isn’t enough cream in my coffee is a petty excuse for such negativity.

Note: Friedreich’s Ataxia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Friedreich’s Ataxia News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Friedreich’s ataxia.


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