(January, 1999)

Things Looking Up After Attitude Adjustment
from Chris B.

Hello again, Ed! Well, it's been nearly a year since the last time I wrote you. Actually, I think it HAS been a year! Anyway, a lot has happened in the past year, and I figured it was time to write back to you and my other flaky brethren.

I've been a pretty loyal reader of this website, and I must say that it encourages me to no end just to hear about all the different people that share one of my personal challenges. It's amazing to see the diversity among us, whether it be age, gender, nationality (the recent letter from China brought tears to my eyes, as well), or attitude.

Attitude is what I want to address in this letter. I'm still suffering from the same problems that I complained about in my last letter [see link at end], only circumstances have changed.

What do I mean by that? Well, I've still got the psoriasis (as bad as ever, if not worse), and I'm still not dating anyone right now. But that's where the similarities end.

Starting in October, I began to attend counseling for my many personal difficulties. Psoriasis isn't my only challenge as a person. I come from a dysfunctional family, only I hadn't realized it nor realized how negatively that affected me as a person until this summer. After experiencing that revelation, I decided that I had to stop and make a change in my life.

For a while, nothing seemed to happen. I attended counseling for a month with no change whatsoever. Then, around the middle or end of October, my life began to change. See, before now, I've always had immensely poor self-esteem and self-confidence. I completely undervalued myself and let anyone and everyone walk all over me. The only problem was, even though I knew it, I had so little confidence that I didn't believe I could change anything.

Over the past two months, however, I've managed to finally turn my life in a better direction. I'm discovering a strength of mind and emotion that I never knew I had. And even though my psoriasis is still a sore spot emotionally (I still have trouble feeling as though I am in any way physically attractive), I'm working on changing my attitude.

And you know what? I'm happy. Even with the psoriasis and accompanying arthritis, I'm pretty much happy with my life right now. Even more surprising, I know of one or two women at my college who are at least a little interested in me.

Isn't it odd how an attitude change can make a vast improvement in our lives? Talk about a miracle: our student newspaper recently ran a poll to determine the "ten sweetest guys on campus." I got number seven! Woohoo!

And that's all I want. I just want to be a nice, average guy who people can trust and enjoy being around. I've received that. And maybe that one special girl I've had my eye on might possibly see me in a similar way.

Who knows?

Oh, and I read about Jhonna's fish-oil treatment. I'll consult my physician just to be safe, but I'm willing to give it a try. I went the fish oil route once, but apparently I wasn't taking enough—only about 250-500 mg per day.

And hey, about your idea of making the site a password-access site or something where we pay you a little cash to get in initially, I'm game. I like the idea of having the regular part of the site free, and then establishing a members section for other opportunities. It'll be approachable for everyone, hopefully. (Although I'm a poor college student, so it may be a month or two before I sign up for a paid membership.)

Take care, and I'll be in touch! -Chris B.

*****

Ed's Response: Good to hear from you again, Chris. I enjoyed your reflections on "attitude." It's been observed that the human animal appears to be the only one (around here, anyway) that can consciously mediate what happens to itself between receiving a stimulus and making a response. "Attitude" is one of those words we have invented to symbolize what happens during that cerebral mediation. Somewhere inside Descartes' profoundly simple notion, Cogito, ergo sum (I think, therefore I am), resides an entire essay on "attitude."

Self-esteem and self-confidence are related to attitude, too; but I'm not sure whether they derive from attitude or vice-versa. I'm only certain that P effects all three—attitude, self-esteem, and self-confidence. I believe wholeheartedly, as you do, that family upbringing has a lot to do with how we mediate between the stimuli and responses that make up our lives. But the mechanisms at work are surely mysterious. Even more mysterious than our P! I rant periodically about the inability of our sciences to make sense of these mysteries through their kludgy methods and insistence upon probability, statistical significance, and replicability. Who would have predicted that you would become the seventh sweetest guy on campus?

Good luck with that "one special girl," and be sure and keep us posted. Your progress reports are inspiring! -Ed

P Thwarts Romance

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