I Still Do

How Do You Change a Bad Attitude?

After a Christmas storm knocked out electricity, my biggest struggle was dealing with a sour mood.

by Dave Boehi

January 2013

In my neighborhood here in Little Rock, huge piles of tree branches are piled in front of nearly every home.  It’s the aftermath of a winter storm that swept through central Arkansas on Christmas Day—freezing rain and then 10 inches of snow.

It was a white Christmas, but not the type you dream about!  It’s difficult to enjoy the snow when falling trees and snapping limbs take out the power in over half the county.  In our case, the outage lasted five nights.  

If you have ever faced a similar situation, you understand what a shock it is to realize how much you depend on electricity.  Your normal lifestyle is disrupted when you lose it—especially in cold weather.   We have a generator, but that only gave us power for a refrigerator, a space heater, cell phones, and a few small appliances.  Our house grew colder and more depressing with each passing day.

Once our power returned, I was left with two major questions:

1. How did our ancestors make it without electricity and central heating or air conditioning? I feel spoiled by my modern comforts and conveniences.  I can’t imagine the hardships faced by rural families trying to make it through a winter in Wisconsin or Nebraska—or a summer in Arkansas.  Yet those days were not so long ago—many of our grandparents or parents who grew up on farms didn’t receive electricity until the 1930s and 1940s.          

2. How do I get rid of a bad attitude?  This was my biggest struggle. After the second night without power, thoughts began running through my head:

This house is making me depressed—it’s so dark and cold. 

Other people are getting their power back on … why is it taking them so long to fix ours?

I was looking forward to my time off between Christmas and New Year’s, and now I don’t get to relax at all.  My whole life is focused on staying warm.  Why did this have to happen to me? 

I felt like I had a constant pressure weighing me down.  At times I was irritable, sour, and moody. 

I knew I had a bad attitude, but I couldn’t break out of it. 

I think this is one of those nitty-gritty issues of life.  And it’s a critical issue in a marriage and family; when you’ve got a sour attitude, it creates a black hole that threatens to suck in every other person in the home. Sometimes the bad attitude will focus on your circumstances, sometimes on your perception of another person, sometimes on problems in the world at large.  I’ll bet each of you can recall situations where you’ve created that black hole—or where you’ve been affected by the sour attitude of a spouse, child, or parent.

So I return to my question:  When you’ve got a bad attitude about your circumstances, or another person, or about anything at all, how do you deal with it?  How do you get out of the rut? 

Honestly, I don’t have a good answer for this yet.  So I’m doing some reading and gathering some feedback.  I’d like to hear from you. 

How have you dealt with your bad attitudes?

How have you dealt with sour attitudes in another person—especially your spouse? 

In particular, how has your faith helped you address these situations?

©2013 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

Click here to read a follow-up article to this one, and here to read emails from readers with their advice and comments on how they deal with bad attitudes.

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