My husband was in a crabby mood recently when he got home from work. I’m not really sure what made him upset, but he was very short tempered and obviously tired and/or irritated. As most humans, I feed off of the emotions of those around me. This is very important to keep in mind as a teacher. I always knew that whatever I was feeling in the classroom, my students were feeling it from me. Whenever my husband is in a icky mood, it always makes me feel upset, mean, frustrated, angry, you name it and I feel it. It’s amazing how much his mood sets off my mood, which in turn sets off our daughter’s mood. It seems no matter how many times I tell him that his mood affects everyone around him, he still doesn’t change.
God has made it very clear to me that it is not my responsibility to change my husband or anyone for that matter. God is responsible for changing, not me. So, what do we do when people around us make us feel bad, especially when they are people we love? Well, the straight answer is, we continue to love them, but to help you along in these situations, I’ve come up with 5 ways to change someone’s attitude:
1. PRAY: This seems the most obvious thing to do, but if you’re anything like me, it’s not the first thing I think of doing. Usually, I’m so frustrated that the person around me is in a bad mood that the last thing I want to do is pray, but God calls us to humble ourselves and pray in all situations. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thes. 5:16-18) Yikes! Did you see that? “This is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Do you know what that means? That means that if we refuse to pray continually, then we are not living the will of God, which means, uh-oh, we’re being disobedient. Given this command, I think it’s important that we make sure we pray. Not sure what to pray in these situations? Try a simple prayer like this:
God, I want to praise you right now for this situation. It is hard for me to pray right now because I’m frustrated, but you said that it is your will for me to pray continually. I pray that you soften my heart towards this person and this situation and I pray that the joy in my heart to follow your will, Lord, will shine so bright that the person near me will absorb your spirit instead of a spirit of moodiness. Thank you for your spirit of peace, joy and kindness. Amen
2. REMAIN SILENT: Hmm… This.is.hard! I’m a strong willed woman. I always have been and I’ve been blessed with a strong willed daughter (more on this some other day). I was raised to speak my mind and stand up for myself. I also was grounded a lot as a child for talking back to my parents and I may or may not have always had to have the last words in an argument. God has taught me and is STILL teaching me how to tame my tongue. “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21) Ugh, this one gets me every time. It is so hard to remain silent, but I need to remain silent in order to let God work in the situation. Remaining silent not only gives us time to evaluate the situations and to observe what is really going on, but it also gives us a chance to practice self-control on our own emotions and mood. Remaining silent is a way to catch our breath and not say something sharp to the other person
3. USE ENCOURAGING WORDS/STAY POSITIVE: Think about a time when you felt really bad, sad, mad, tired, angry or any other negative feeling. Has anyone ever said anything positive to you during that time? If so, it probably made you feel a little better. Our job in this situation is to say something positive. It could be something as simple as, “you look great today,” or “I know you’re probably tired, thank you for working such long hours for our family.” Maybe it’s a friend’s attitude that’s got you in a tizzy, you could stay positive by bringing up a funny memory with that person. “Hey, remember the time when…” We are called to encourage one another, so it is essential that we do this in all situations, but even more so in these situations. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thes. 5:11)
4. EXPRESS CONCERN: Politely ask your spouse, friend, whomever, if something might be bothering them. Tell them that you noticed they might seem a little on edge and you were wondering if everything was OK? This is not always my first reaction. My first reaction tends to be a snappy, “what’s your problem?” kind of response, which ultimately leads to a much heated argument. When we give attitude back to the person who is already grumpy, we are just adding fuel to the flame. It is important that we have genuine concern for the person and take an interest in finding out what really is wrong. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephs. 4:32) Ouch, another zinger! Be compassionate and forgiving just as God forgave me. Talk about conviction! Expressing concern makes the situation all about the other person and not about us and not about how offended we are by their actions or how “unjust” it is that the other person is upset and taking it out on us. When we love someone, then we should not be selfish, for love is not self-seeking. (1 Corinth 13:5)
5. OFFER HELP: Finally, offer help. “Do you need me to help you somehow so that you can relax?” or “How about you go ahead and spend some time enjoying a TV show or a cup of tea and I’ll take care of everything else tonight.” A simple gesture that could make all the difference in that person’s day. It is our calling to carry the burdens of our family and friends and anyone else. God’s will is for us to care for one another and help each other in all situations. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2)
So there you have it, how to change someone’s attitude. If you haven’t caught on by now, the person’s attitude you’re changing isn’t someone else, but rather your own. If we change our attitude towards other people, ultimately, we may find that their attitude changes too. This has been a real struggle for me to realize and God has been telling me over and over how I need to change. I always like to say, “but that isn’t fair, ” at which point God reminds me that he is a fair and just God and that he knows more than I do and more than I ever will.
I encourage you this week to change your attitude towards someone else and see what blessings God will bring.
Are you like me and find it hard to change your attitude when you feel it’s the other person who needs changing?