That one thing that one person said...
I went to a party. It was so nice to see the people there. Most of them said really nice things to me about who I am and what I do. One person didn’t. One person made a comment - an unsolicited comment on how I chose to do my hair. It wasn’t an insult exactly. I might have appreciated some constructive feedback about that. But when I thanked them for there connect, they were very clear that it wasn’t a compliment.... what do I do with that?
So often we don’t notice pain when it goes away. We notice pain, pain, pain, and then nothing. Finally, a whole lot later, we realize that where there was once pain, there is no pain any longer.
While it’s hard for me to receive compliments and thanks from others, and nearly impossible to praise myself, I’ve gotten better at it. Someone says something nice and now I hear it, take it in, try to feel the good feelings from it. Then I say thank you. It’s hard for me to hold onto these thoughts and feelings. But when someone says something critical, or even something that feels like the absence of something good, my brain goes to a dark place.
I start to mull it over in my mind to try to assess the meaning, the context, the feeling, and the feeling behind the feeling. I try to figure out what I should have done or said differently. I know that not everyone will like everything about me. Not everyone will like what I do or what I teach but it’s so easy to only feel the bad feelings.
I heard someone smart suggest keeping a file of compliments you’ve received to pull out during the times of self-doubt...
While that might work for you, I’m working on another idea. I’m trying to fill my attention with more of what I want to be doing: more of what I know is helpful, more of what I know is good, more of what will give me the intrinsic good feelings these actions give me. These will leave little room for self-criticism.
Ok, so, let’s talk about being busy another day. In the meantime...
I’ve noticed that I will fill my mind space with anything I have. It will be negative self-talk when that is what’s in the forefront of my mind or it will be new ideas, crazy barre exercises, or ways to help make our community better. Whatever is motivating me. It is because of this that I am trying to surround myself with people, places, and things that inspire me, push me to be creative, and to think through things through in new ways. If I am busy creatively problem solving I’m not so self-critical. I actually can’t be so self-obsessed with how to be liked by everyone and how to meet everyone’s needs.
How can we do more of this for each other? How can we help to foster creative problem solving and new ideas? A number of years ago we started a LifeWorks book club and chose to talk through complicated topics and ideas like how we learn. I found it so inspiring to be curious while being with others. That’s how I want to be with my friends. Should we do it again? What should we read/learn together?