\ An Attitude Adjustment | Christina Brandt

She was there again.  The Lady Who Pushes All My Buttons was at the Y.

The Situation Picture this, if you will:

  • Crowded locker room with limited space
  • Several towels scattered on the floor
  • Rolling carry-on duffle bag, upended, with shoes, makeup and exercise clothing strewn on the floor and bench
  • Three outfits in dry cleaner bags, hung on various lockers
  • Woman in soup-can sized rollers, applying makeup, while asking three fellow gym-goers “Does this dress make my boobs look too big?  You know, in this town people think you’re a slut if you show too much cleavage.”

My Attitude (a.k.a. “thoughts”)

  • Judgy (she’s hogging too much space, she’s selfish…)
  • Angry (she should know better, be more considerate…)
  • Unkind (she’s an idiot, her outfits are trashy…)

How was that workin’ for me? Not well at all.  During my swim I was distracted by all my negative thoughts and kept swallowing water when I’d come up for air.

Time for an Attitude Adjustment Was she really supposed to take up less room? Nope. How do I know that?  Because she took up the room she took.  Should she have been anything other than exactly who she was, doing what she was doing in that moment?  Nope.  And how do I know that?  Because that’s what was happening.

Byron Katie says “When you argue with reality, you lose.  But only 100% of the time.”  The Lady was going about her day, and I was busy believing she should be something other than exactly who she was.  Whose moment was ruined?  Certainly not hers.

When I came back from my shower and swim, she was drying her hair, and then polishing her nails.  Another judgy thought (“She’s taking way too long to get out of here.”) surfaced.

I laughed out loud.  Why? Because she’d given me a wonderful example of how my attitude (and thoughts) were totally in my control.  I could decide to remain a judgy, angry and unkind person or I could make a different choice.  So I did.  I decided that she was just like all the rest of us, making our way through the world and wanting to look her best when she did so.  She got a warm smile from me and I got a story to tell all of you.

Eckhart Tolle’s right. In “A New Earth,” he says “Life will give you whatever experience is the most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness.”  Who knew that my daily dose o’ consciousness-raising was going to happen in the locker room of the local Y!

Are you in need of an attitude adjustment? Funny thing, but when I became more considerate of The Lady instead of assuming she should be more considerate of me, I felt better.  Notice your thoughts about others, and turn them onto yourself.  See if there isn’t a glimmer of truth when you substitute “I should” for the original “s/he should.” You just might feel better for it, too.


  1. Vera Flame says:

    Lots of valuable stuff in here. And it feels like it needs a dash of something more.

    For me, in order to adopt a practice as is suggested here, it is important to note what differentiates this situation from a situation where it IS in your best good to not simply accept reality and smile.

    I thought about it for a day and determined that what differentiates this is that she wasn’t really affecting your well being very much.

    Had she been smoking, or using her curling iron dangerously close to your bare arm, or using profanity in front of your young child, then the answer to the question: Is she supposed to not endanger others? is definately not: “nope” and simply accepting “what is” no longer serves me well.

    My coworker with no backbone read this and saw it as a justification for her to not stick up for herself. It is easy to misread it as such because it’s missing one component. Here’s my best take at what that component is:

    Do not simply feed thoughts like angry, judgy, unkind. Consider whether the situation warrants taking action (leaving the locker room, asking her politely to stop, talking to management) and if it doesn’t, THEN go through the steps above.

  2. chris says:

    You bring up a very good point, Vera, and your final paragraph is spot on.

    I left out a part of the story in the interest of keeping the post somewhat brief. After I adjusted my attitude, I not only smiled but also asked the woman if I could have some room on the bench. She apologized for taking over the space, and moved her things. I believe that if I hadn’t adjusted my thinking first, I’d have been a lot more unkind to her, which wouldn’t have served either of us.

    Had her curling iron been dangerously close to my arm, I would have moved, and asked her to be more careful. Had she been smoking, I would have asked her to stop. This post and this way of thinking, is not intended to tell anyone to stop sticking up for themselves. Rather, it’s to have them be completely honest about what’s really occurring. And, from that place of honesty and truth, make a good choice about how to take care of oneself.

    I’m not really clear why your co-worker saw this as a justification to not stick up for herself. If she posts here, I’ll be happy to explore that with her.

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