I consider myself a work in progress. That applies to every aspect of my life: my fitness, my mindset and self-perception, my roles as a wife and mother and friend. I’m not perfect and I’m learning as I go. Aren’t we all? So if this is true, why do I have such a hard time with negative feedback?
I reached out to the Twittersphere last night after receiving some particularly negative criticism. Turns out, I’m not alone in the struggle to overcome it and move on. People responded with their own experiences and it appears to be common for us to hang on to negative comments more than positive ones. (Addressing the need for social media to ease up on the negativity is material for a future post.)
I decided to do a little reading on the topic and stumbled upon a NY Times article addressing this very notion. (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/24/your-money/why-people-remember-negative-events-more-than-positive-ones.html). Turns out we’re wired to linger and ruminate about negative comments directed towards us; a survival tactic apparently. The author says “Oddly, I find this research, in some ways, reassuring. It’s not just me. I don’t need to beat myself up because I seem to fret excessively when things go wrong.” I agree. I tend to find solace in knowing I’m not suffering alone, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to do the work necessary to learn from it and move on.
How do we move on? A tweeter suggested acknowledging the emotions involved before trying to get on with it. Someone suggested venting about it, being present in those emotions for a bit to express them and release them which I’m glad to say I am fantastic at! I am also acknowledging that there is some significant personal bias and subjectivity on the part of the individual who provided the feedback I’m currently processing. I willingly accept the areas I need to improve upon, but I’m confident enough in who I am to recognise what is false and what I refuse to accept. Just because someone else offers an opinion doesn’t make it true.
Doesn’t this apply to all aspects of our lives? Just because I didn’t finish the 5k race in first place doesn’t diminish my achievements as a runner. In fact I have yet to even place in a race but I keep running them! Just because I am not a size 2 doesn’t mean I am not a fit woman. I’m quite comfortable working towards a comfortable size 8 pair of jeans. I’m learning to acknowledge who I am, what my strengths and talents are, and to celebrate those every.single.day. It’s not easy but necessary for me to be a successful mother, wife, and human being.
So, now that I’ve expressed my distaste at the negative sludge hurled in my direction, I’ve reached out to my strong support system to help me process and I’m ready to move on. I’ve taken from it what I needed to learn and I aim to put more kindness out in to the world in response.