I grew up in a house with a mom who was far from being positive. The result was two children who lived in a world of habitual skepticism. It took years for me to break away from skepticism and begin to live in a world of positive thinking. I’m not ashamed to admit that I have to be cautious with my thinking. HOW TO MAINTAIN A POSITIVE ATTITUDE AND STAY POSITIVE AROUND NEGATIVE PEOPLE Do you see yourself as a person with a positive attitude? If you do, tell me how do you plan remain positive when working in such a place as a state prison, a place that is full of negative thinkers. Knowing that I came from a pessimistic background, and have been negative myself, I had to develop a plan to protect myself. During the first 5 years working in a state prison, I developed a plan that has protected me. 1). One of the most important step is to find yourself someone who you are extremely close to, someone who has a positive attitude themselves. Share with that person you need their help. Ask that person to share with you if he sees you’re leaning toward being negative in your thinking. While working as a chaplain and being surrounded by violence and anger, it’s easy to become hardened. I have had to respond to those who were angry, and even hostile towards me. I even had to send several to the lockup due to their threats. So you can see just how easy it is to become negative. One Sunday after preaching, an offender who was one of my chapel clerks came up to me and said, “Chaplain Goforth, I’ve noticed lately that you are acting more and more like the CO’s.” He continued to say that I was becoming negative. This made me do some self reflecting, do I need to be more aware of my surroundings and my thoughts? Even though he was an offender, I allowed myself to examine myself. 2) It’s important that you begin to example what is happening around you. What are your thoughts? Stay alert to your own body language. For example What are the words, the actions, the tone of voice, the facial expressions? What emotions do you sense behind the words and actions? It’s true that negative words being spoken are difficult to be around. It’s imperative that we remember this is not the sign of one being trapped in negativism. Is this person simply trying something by using negative words? 3). This next key will be very difficult to do when working with offenders. It’s a pure fact that offenders are professional manipulators. It’s because of this that we must be on guard. However, when around others you need to assume the best about the intentions of those around you. Unless you have facts to prove differently. Otherwise, assume that the negative talk is simply the bad habit of complaining. 4) When working in a prison, you will receive hateful criticism, insults, your be spit at, cussed from the offenders. You can’t allow yourself to take all this and more personally. It was a Friday morning and I was walking to visit a new offender in one of our dorms. When passing South dorm I heard an offender screaming out obscenities through his window. The next thing I knew there were others joining in. It’s important to never remember to allow such behavior and talk Negativity is basically selfishness, and their selfishness is about them, not about you. Yes, this is very difficult to put into practice. When you are the target of the other person’s complaints, and especially their sarcasm, it is very hard not to take it personally. Try, however, to remain objective and assess whether there is any rational basis for the criticism. When the criticism is unfounded, know that the other person is simply venting their own pent up hostility in your direction, and don’t take it personally. 5) When you are able to take these insults and Negative statements and remind yourself that this person may have grown up in an environment of poor thinkers. Maybe this person, like yourself, lived with a family of negativism. If so, it will help you to file away those statements under “Pray for.” You will be surprised how well this will help. 6) Now that you are able to file these words under ” Pray for.” Then your next step would be doing just that, pray for that person. Remember the words, “prayer changes lives.” One of my favorite scriptures in the Old Testament can be found in second Chronicles 7:14 “… 7my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” Without going into a biblical study on this sentence, the main concept is that “if we pray, God will hear.” More importantly, “God will forgive.” So my question is If God is willing to forgive, then who are we not to? 7). While checking on yourself and your attitude, And you’ve had found that your attitude remained healthy. But remember no one will have 100% healthy or negative attitude all the time. You’ll need to have gratitude for everything that is positive. Make a list of everything that is positive about the person or situation. Keep writing until you have compiled a meaningful list. Then give thanks for all that is positive. 8). This will be a great time to take a review on your own thinking. Your speech and thinking still positive, if not, it’s time to pray for yourself. Your not going to be able to help others until you have help yourself. 9). Now that you have made a serious examination of yourself and you find yourself with a healthy attitude, you’ll need to find a connection between that offender and yourself. If all your attempts to create an uplifting connection with the negative person fails, with a healthy attitude, you will need to continue praying for that person and move on. 10). While working in an area of extreme negative influence, it’s imperative that you surround yourself with as much power and positive people. By balancing the negative and the positive of your life, it will provide a healthier and happier life. Seek out new positive opportunities. Cultivate friends with positive attitudes. Join groups that are populated by very positive people. 11). My last piece of advice is that you can and must be willing to cut off any contact with an offender for safety and security reasons. Remember that you are working in a prison. Unfortunately, it does take much for many of the offenders to lose their control. If that’s a case, hostility and possibility a full blown fight an occurrence at any given time. My suggestion is to inform the chaplain of the situation. They are trained in such situations. WHAT WE SAY WHEN WE ARE NEGATIVE CAN HURT OTHERS AND OURSELVES When working in a negative environment, Such as a prison, positive attitude will be a must. As a staff employee or a chapel volunteer, you will see all types of abuse. Both from the offenders and from the staff. Both verbal and physical. The words we speak, will affect those who hear us. Take a close look at the words taught about our spoken words. 3 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5 Other seed fell on stony ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. 6 And’ when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 And it yielded no grain. 8 And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty fold and sixty fold and a


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