Stuck On The Bad

It was my great fortune to meet Sally (not her real name) years ago through an outdoors workshop program. We taught workshops together, and became friends.

Sally was extraordinary.

I’ve never known anyone else so artistic, expressive, and truly gifted.   Watching her come up with an idea was like watching magic unfold.  She had an eye for color, for concepts, and for creativity like I’d never seen.  I’ll never forget the day she showed me her multicolored hand painted chairs.  Crazy cool!  As was often the case, they were works of art.KateStuckOnTheBad

And what an adventurer–a lover of the outdoors. Sally was a woman of the earth.  So natural.  She was someone who you could paddle out in a canoe with and simply breathe.  No words required.  And, it was a priceless experience to work side by side with her, teaching outdoor skills to others.  She sparkled when she taught–she was so excited and animated.  Her love of the outdoors spilled onto everyone she came in contact with.

She was so very proud of family—so intent on being a good wife and mother. Her creative energy flowed to her family, and her unique ways of bragging up her kids were all over the house.  She was so very proud of her kids.  The way she talked about them, I wished I had a mom like that growing up.

And she was such a loving soul. So caring, and giving to others.  Even when we weren’t able to stay in touch, she still thought of me.  I treasure her Christmas cards—especially the one containing the photograph filled with their litter of puppies! I am honored to be able to say I know Sally. I think of her often when I am in the woods, especially if I am lost. She was an expert in orienteering.

Was.

The last time I saw her was years ago, because, well, Sally ended her life.

I share this story with you for a very specific purpose. Although extreme, it serves as an example of how important it is to be aware of our behaviors.  Especially potentially destructive ones; how important it is to recognize and own them, reach out for help, and make the effort to modify them when needed.

Everyone saw Sally as the amazing woman I did, except Sally. Perhaps you, too, know someone like Sally, someone who has made that fateful decision–lost a battle to the invisible demons that rattle inside their heads.

We think we know people.

But sometimes, there is the person that we all see on the outside, and a different voice sneaking around their mind on the inside, unseen.  Some people, like Sally, truly struggle with self-worth and validation on the inside.  That is something we never see.  In fact, all of the praise in the world could not ever make up for just one micro-small criticism in her mind.

One simplistic example:

Perhaps her manager celebrates her excellent performance with a long list of all of the things she excels at as a teacher. He thinks she’s great—the best even, and goes on about how pleased he is with her for 30 minutes. Then he suggests she may want to just tone down the time spent on little Johnny, it would give her more time for the other kids. Sally listens to all of the praise, but then disregards every bit of it after hearing the suggestion—hanging onto how she should have been toning things down.

Just think how a lifetime of storing up those criticisms could weigh on a person if they let them!

Why is it so hard to hang onto that positive piece? Why toss the compliments out the window and obsess about the bad stuff?  Interpretation plays a strong role in focusing on the negative.  Psychologists refer to it as a survival skill. We humans are all pre-programmed to give more attention to negative than to positive incoming data.  We’ve done it since the beginning of time, as a mechanism of self-protection.  For some, even if that negative piece is less than 1% of the overall data they receive, they are glued to it. And goodness knows we are splattered with good and bad data all day every day.  We get it at home, at work, with friends, and in public places.  If all you retain is the bad, it can become paralyzing.  It can affect your relationships, work, and jeopardize your overall success.  For some people, like Sally, those tiny negative bits can accumulate, and develop into a force that completely takes them down.

How can you protect yourself from letting criticism dominate your life?

No one is exempt from getting knocked down from time to time. It’s how you handle the getting back up part that counts.  Real people seek counsel.  There is no shame in seeking professional help to re-program from a deep rooted thought process or mind set.  But before you ever get to that point, here are 4 simple steps of preventive medicine that have worked for me—perhaps they will work for you too.

Live a Life of Gratitude

Being able to open your eyes, look around and fill your heart with everything that you have to be grateful for, leaves little room for negativity to creep in. It also attracts other like- minded people that will keep that momentum going.  Being thankful, grateful and appreciative all generate positivity.  What goes around, comes around.

“Act As If”

Make a list of the things you are really good at. If you find yourself being sucked into negativity and criticism, pull out that list, remind yourself of things you are good at, and think about how you want to feel about yourself.  Just as your self-talk can bring you down, self-talk can bring you up.  Recite your positive list, and “act as if” you are all things positive, amazing and wonderful until you actually believe it yourself.

Consider The Source

It’s a fact. Not everyone wants, likes, approves of, or chooses the same things that you do.  If a person criticizes you for your personal choice, take a good look at them, realize it’s about them, not you, and discard their comment.  It’s ok to agree to disagree.  Their opinion isn’t going to make or break your pathway to success, right?  With that said, there’s usually strength in numbers.  If 57 people all approached you on Tuesday saying you could have gotten your point across without dumping lunch on Louise—well, re-wind the scene–maybe you did overstep a bit.  Being humble, and open to addressing a true weakness will shift your brains thought process from one of negativity to one of empowerment and progress.

Be Positive

Surround yourself with all things positive—all things. Begin each day with a positive statement. Write yourself uplifting sayings on sticky notes and post them around the house.  Set aside time each day to do something you love.  Initiate positive feedback towards others. Practice describing situations in a completely positive light.  Walk away from the people and stories that drag you down, and spend your time with people who are enthusiastic, energetic, and generate a positive energy.  Remove all the toxicity from your day that you have the power to, and “Act As If” the rest of it isn’t there.

Criticism, even positive criticism, can be hard to swallow, yet it’s something we all have to endure throughout our lives. Recognizing you have a tendency to cling to the negative is the first step to ending it’s potentially dangerous effects.  If your life is filled with positivity, there’s just no room for the negative.   If you’ve experienced this type of behavior more often than not, choose to do something about it.  Create a plan today for kicking negative feedback in its proverbial butt.  Clear the way for empowerment, motivation and positivity in your life.

 

PR Brady AdVentures is always ready to help you get there. Message me today to begin exploring your full potential with a Personal Power session or Custom Retreat. Feel free to share with others who may find value and interest in exploring limitless possibilities with PR Brady AdVentures.

 

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Comments

  1. I love this post! You are so right on with how quick we can be to hold on to one negative piece…it may not even be negative but just that we perceive it that way. I love all your suggestions to shift perspective. My favorite has to be the gratitude piece. Thank you for sharing such an important topic.

    • Yes, perception certainly can be dangerous on many levels, especially if a person has nothing rational to gage theirs by.

  2. An important reminder of how easily we can get stuck in our thoughts and neglect to see the good. It is not always easy to shift perception from the depths of a dark thought, so thank you for sharing some tools for moving forward. I am sure this post will be helpful for many.

    • Indeed, Kama, many people who go down that dark path don’t even realize they did–nor do they have a clue they shouldn’t be there–nor do they have a clue how to get back out. And isn’t it true most people shy away from “those negative types”? Perhaps they are actually the ones who could help that person to see a new direction…

  3. This is such an important, powerful post. All of the tips listed here are excellent. I practice them except for the “As If” one. That’s a really good reminder of how I can be good to my self. I am going to get right on that so I can have that in my ‘tool box’. Thank you!

    • “Act As If” works for all sorts of things from making friends, getting jobs, dating…What’s that saying? “Be the thing you seek”. No matter how hard it may be to believe, no one can see what’s in your mind. They can’t hear negative self talk. They form their opinions based on what is showing on the outside. When everything starts with a great big confident smile no matter what—well that’s what people see and respond to.. When everything starts with a “Debbie Downer” attitude, well, THAT’S what people see, and they respond accordingly. “Act as if” long enough, and it will no longer be an act! 🙂

  4. I am sorry about your friend. That must have been hard. Your words here are a fitting tribute to a good soul that just needed some help and didn’t ask for it. We all have moments when we are scared to reach out, but it is so important to know that things aren’t always as they seem by the tapes playing in our heads.

  5. Patty – Just found your blog through the Inspired Blogging Group – fantastic post. I actually started blogging in response to a friend’s suicide so this post really resonated with me. I love your message and I look forward to reading more of your blogs.

    • Welcome Christine, and thanks! Oh bless your heart. There really are no words to capture what it’s like to have someone you care about choose to end their life. All we can really know for sure is that it was their choice, and sometimes we just aren’t graced with the privilege of being allowed to know “why” they made it. Many hugs out to you!

  6. Whoa. This is one powerful and well written post Patty. You shocked the hell out of me when you revealed Sally ended her life. I wasn’t expecting that. At all. I can’t help but wonder how shocked you and her family must have been. However something good has come out of it and that’s you thinking up the four simple steps of preventive medicine. I personally really work on the positive. It helps me a lot. However I still struggle with negative people and finding the strength to allow them to leave my life. I’ll work more on that. Thank you.

    • I truly believe people aren’t born wanting to be negative. That said, I have always been an eternal optimist–and will be the first one to step up to the plate to try to help. So many unhappy people, so little time……;)

      • OOps, didn’t mean to end there….I was saying, all you can really do is drum up a little tough love, come up with some “rules of engagement” moving forward, present some healthy alternatives, then step back and let them choose, because there’s only so many hours in a day.

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