Highlights for Compliment Rather than Criticize
- Are you wired to the positive or the negative? (0:35)
- What would it be like if we…? (2:55)
- Now, where’s that silver lining? (3:50)
- Meeting mistakes with kindness and compassion (5:45)
- Choose how you want to show up in the world (9:30)
- Your turn… (13:20)
Compliment Rather Than Criticize
I recently saw something like: “It’s easy to be critical, try being complimentary.” Wow! How true, and it seems so easy!
But it’s not always easy. It requires effort and practice for some of us … and by “us,” I’m including myself.
Are You Wired to the Positive or the Negative?
The reason it’s not always easy is that 50% of our outlook is genetic – meaning that we are genetically wired to see either the positive side of things or the negative side of things … 50%? That’s crazy!
I personally think I’m negatively wired. I can remember going to an event and, when someone would ask me how it was, I would say, “Eh, it was okay…” and then I would go on to list 10 things that could have been better.
I don’t like how that feels – and it sounds terrible just saying it – but it’s true.
It’s not that I’m not appreciative or grateful, I am just wired to see the negative side first.
The good news is that we have some control over the other 50% … well, 38% to be exact, but who’s counting?
I actively work on focusing on seeing the good things in life. I can now notice when I’m seeing the negative, and I counterbalance that with something positive.
I’m not saying that you can’t be aware of when things are not okay or are unacceptable and that you have to suck it up! Au contraire mon frère!
(Yes, I took four years of French, and I’m always looking for ways to slip it in … sue me!)
My point is that if something isn’t right, get it corrected. But just complaining about ourselves, other people, situations, etc. without taking any action is not a solution.
FACT: When we have a negative experience, we tell 9 people, but when we have a good experience, we only tell 3 people – I guess it’s human nature to share the downside of what happens.
It’s very easy to criticize ourselves and others. We criticize others for what they are doing or saying or what they’re not doing or not saying. We are critical ninjas – and we WILL find something to complain about.
Especially around the holidays!
We can be stressed and trying to get everything done, and that can bring up a lot of issues, and it can bring out negativity – I get it.
We criticize clothing, cooking, bodies, gifts, hair, behavior, children, cars, our spouses (or lack thereof), jobs, words – the list is exhausting.
What Would It Be Like If We…?
What would our lives be like if we stopped being so critical?
What would peace and kindness feel like? …not just towards others, but towards ourselves?
I will tell you: it is total freedom!
Now, I don’t have it all figured out, but I’m soooo much better than I used to be. I don’t criticize myself nearly as much as I used to, which means that I’m less critical of others, too.
The truth is that when we expect perfection from ourselves, we demand it from others, as well. It’s a terrible mind trick that we don’t realize we are doing.
When we criticize others, it’s almost always a way to make ourselves feel better. So, if we can just loosen the death grip on our own throats, we can lessen our criticism for others, too. Funny how that works 😉
Now, Where’s That Silver Lining?
I know it can be difficult to find the silver lining, but what do you have to lose…?
Uncle Larry is telling the same jokes AGAIN, Aunt Edna is the worst cook, your mom buys the kids the NOISIEST toys on the planet, or you’re being pulled in seven different directions, and you can’t make anyone happy.
But what if the kids love Uncle Larry’s jokes … and Aunt Edna’s cooking isn’t her greatest quality, but she gives the best hugs! What if your mom had no idea what to buy the kids, but the teenager at Target made some suggestions? Maybe you’re fortunate to be invited to all these places, all at the same time.
If you can find a different spin on it, it might change how you feel about it.
Try to find the good in everything, even if it’s irritating or frustrating. I’m totally guilty of this one: “I’m stuck in traffic – ugh! This is so annoying!” When I’m stuck in traffic, I automatically go to Complain And Be Annoyed mode.
But then I can switch over pretty quickly to searching for alternatives to my irritation: maybe I’m running late because I will miss an accident, or maybe it’s just a few more minutes to myself in my own private oasis (my car) where no one is demanding my time or attention – it’s just peace and quiet or jamming to my favorite tunes.
Finding the silver lining is not about being a Pollyanna – and how did she get saddled with that reputation anyway? – it’s about choosing to look for the positive in the situation.
Remember, 50% of our positive or negative leaning is totally within our control. We all have a choice: be critical or compliment … negative or positive. It’s up to you.
Which leads me to mistakes…
Meeting Mistakes with Kindness and Compassion
I hope that you’re making mistakes! I hope we’re all making them!
You might be asking yourself, “Why is she saying this?”
It’s because we learn so much about ourselves and others when we make mistakes. It’s a real growth opportunity. Mistakes are inevitable and not fatal.
When you make a mistake, do you berate or ridicule yourself, ridicule yourself, or call yourself names? I used to. I would always say, “I’m so stupid.”
I’m far from stupid, but I said it all the time as a way of making light of my error. I wouldn’t say that about other people, but I said it about myself all the time – but not anymore!
How you handle someone else making a mistake is as important as how they handle their mistake! And of course, how you handle your own mistakes is important, too.
If you’re rude, blaming, nasty, argumentative, condescending, or critical, then you’re missing an opportunity to treat people as you would like to be treated. Now, if they catch an attitude with you about a mistake they made, then set them straight! I’m not having any of that nonsense.
But people are not perfect! And the sooner we stop expecting perfection, the better off we will all be.
Treat people as you want to be treated – period.
We have to make room for people to come back from mistakes, to redeem themselves, and allow them a path forward, just as we want to be able to move forward after we make mistakes.
Give people the opportunity to make their mistake right. If they don’t, then that’s on them.
If they apologize and it’s heartfelt and genuine, then you can choose to accept it or not. If you accept it, then move forward with kindness and compassion.
This can be a learning lesson for everyone!
I recently purchased a pair of earrings from an amazing woman who custom makes her own jewelry, Frances Cadora at Studio Fran. The day they arrived, I tore open the package with excitement, and … they weren’t the earrings I wanted.
Houston – we have a problem.
When I messaged her about the mistake, we soon realized there was a disconnect.
She was so apologetic, and she immediately offered to make it right. The earrings I had wanted were already sold, and she could make another pair for me, but that would take time.
The first thought that popped into my head was, “Those earrings weren’t meant to be mine.”
I was disappointed, but I knew in my heart that if the right earrings didn’t arrive, they weren’t mine. I shipped back the beautiful earrings I did receive.
It was an honest mistake. I wasn’t specific enough, and she had thought I was talking about another pair. I could easily see how it happened – no harm, no foul.
The incorrect earrings had arrived on my wedding anniversary; they were supposed to be my present. I thought it was perfect timing that they would arrive on my anniversary … how magical!
I could have been angry and critical, but what point would that have served? None. I didn’t have the earrings, and tearing Frances up was not going to change that. I treated her as I would want someone to treat me – with kindness and understanding.
And within an hour or so after we discovered the mistake, she messaged me saying that she was getting new stones to make my earrings. I was thrilled!
I received them about 6 weeks later and, let me tell you, they are absolutely STUNNING!
I feel a connection with Frances now, even though we’ve never met. We’ve been through humanness together, and we rocked it!
Choose How You Want to Show Up in This World
Choose who you want to be and how you want to show up in this world.
Offering compliments rather than criticism can change the world.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to shift from critical to complimentary—
What do you want?
How do you want to feel? What’s your goal for the evening or event or gathering? Is it connection, love, or fun? Do you want to feel loved and connected?
I know that’s a lot of questions, but it’s VITAL to understand what you actually want. If you don’t know what you want, how will you ever know when you get it?
This is applicable to any situation, not just the holidays.
I personally believe it’s why so many of us are unhappy – I know I was. I was always chasing something I thought I didn’t have, but I didn’t really know what I wanted to begin with.
To paraphrase Glinda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz, you always had the power … you had to learn it for yourself.
We always had the power! Booyah!
You just gotta ask some questions.
How do you get it?
So, now that you know what you want … how can you get it?
The number one way to get what you want is to SHOW UP!
That’s it. Just show up.
Be willing to be seen. Show up just as you are. You don’t need to change anything, just be your fabulous self.
You can’t get what you want if you’re not there to receive it.
I often remind myself that I don’t need to do anything other than be me and show up. It might sound simple, but I need this constant reminder.
And you know what? I do it!
I show up for my friends, my family, my neighbors … I show up when I’m out and about, because I am actively practicing to be the kind of person I want to be.
And when I’m in the present moment, and I’m not worried about running late, long lines, what I look like, or traffic – I am a much happier, centered, and complimentary person.
Seek the positive.
It takes 3 positive engagements to counter 1 negative – think about that for a minute.
If you’re talking shit to yourself (which was a constant for me), it will take three nice things to counter each bad one.
So, I have years of catching up to do before I’m in the black again, because I’ve been in the red for so long. But I’m clawing my way out of the deficit one positive thing at a time.
And it’s working! I feel so much better about myself – this is just one step to finding your feisty!
Instead of complaining that the turkey is dry, compliment the cook because you didn’t have to make it.
Rather than bitching about the drive to your brother’s house, compliment him for hosting everyone and how beautiful his home looks.
Imagine putting that positivity into the world and the power it has to uplift, encourage, and inspire others!
Let’s be part of that movement to spread positivity and kindness.
Here are 4 additional questions to help you see the good in any situation:
- How is this perfect for me?
- What am I learning from this?
- How am I benefiting from this?
- What hilarious story can I tell about this afterwards?
So, this holiday season, my challenge to you is—
See if you can put a positive spin on everything:
the unfortunate, the irritating, and the annoying.
I bet you can do it. Then sit back and see how your mood, attitude, and life improve. Good luck! I’m here if you need me 😊
And to those who celebrate, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy, safe, and prosperous New Year! See you in 2019!
p.s. Stay tuned – I will be doing one podcast each week in January to share love, inspiration, and positivity to counteract all the diet and weight loss ads that will be overwhelming everyone come January 1. See you then!