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Showing posts with label impact. Show all posts
Showing posts with label impact. Show all posts

Thursday, April 23, 2020

A negative tends to have a greater impact than a positive.

As Mark Twain was purported to have said, “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”  Obviously, what he meant was that it is easier to spread a falsehood than to correct it.   I also realized when in was in my first year of college that failure is easier than success and spoke about this concept in The Fine Line: Failure takes no effort, success takes a lot of work .  Most of the time you don't have to do anything to fail.  In fact, I believe that it is doing nothing that will inevitably usually lead to failure.   In more recent years, it has occurred to me that a negative generally has greater impact than a positive.  As a matter of fact, the concepts here actually go hand in hand.   Just as failure is easier than success, a negative tends to be the default or more pervasive state than a positive.

But, think about.  When studying history what do we put more of our energy on?  When we have both good and bad interactions with people, what do we tend to focus more on?  If we have an otherwise good driving record marred by a life-changing accident, what will we and others focus on?   When we have a good work record marred by a very bad screw-up or marred by an unfortunate interaction--especially if we are dismissed as a result--will we feel like a success?  When we have an uneventful or clean deployment that ends with a trauma, what will we be tend to focus on?

I've had some successes in life, but in my later 40s and 50s, I have worked through and processes a lot as a childhood sexual abuse survivor.   The successes have helped me keep perspective BUT they did not completely erase the impact of CSA.  This all leads to the questions:  Why does the negative in many (or I dare so most) cases have a greater impact than the positive?  I'm going to consider that here:

Impact of Negatives vs. Positives

  • I think the positives, though we appreciate them, we can take them for granted and not realize their goodness or importance.  Negatives on the other hand I think are harder to dismiss as 'these things just happen sometimes'.  I think we tend to look for a reason or why.
  • I think often the consequences of a negative just is more devastating than a positive.  
    • I understand a common exercise to teach teens the difficulty and challenges of raising a baby utilizes an egg as the baby. 
    • The goal is to take the 'baby' wherever you go without 'breaking it'.
    • No matter how many times or days you've handled the egg, if you drop it once on any kind of hard surface, it will break.  Similarly a baby can easily be injured if you drop him or her once.
  • I believe we may savor the good or positive times and relive them, but they will tend to become a distance memory. Their impact can fade over time and we won't usually tend to second-guess them.  Bad or negative times, if bad enough, can come to the forefront.  From my experience, if they are not resolved, can come to the forefront very quickly.  Bad times are a lot more likely to lead to second guessing.  That is, how could we have made that choice, said those words, done that thing, etc.
  • I believe we tend to view 'negatives' as a moral failure.  Meaning we have a harder time 'forgiving ourselves'.  I think this is especially true if the weak or more challenged our faith is.  The positives we take pride in but we are taught not to gloat too much about them or take too much credit for them.

So believing that negatives tend to have a greater impact, what do we do to mitigate against that?  I don't have all the answers, but I do have some ideas.

Mitigation Strategies (Against the Oversized Influence of Negatives) 

  • Make reminders of success prominent in your life.  Not to gloat on them or to show or develop arrogance, but as a reminder to yourself when the bad times or negatives hit that your life has balance.  Meaning that as much of a particular failure or negative hurts, it is not who you are.
  • Remember who your Higher Power sees you as.  Yes, it hurts if the world or you in particular sees a negative or failure in your life, but how does your Higher Power view you?  For myself, I've been taught that we are made in God's image and 'God doesn't make junk'.
  • Surround yourself with those tend to be uplifting for you.  That's not to say surround yourself with yes men, but those who will be more willing see you in a positive light than a negative.   In other words, while you don't want those who would 'Blow smoke up your *ss', you also don't want those who would "Rain on your parade' either.
  • Learn to view negatives or failures as blessing in disguise where possible.  If not that, then at least learn to view them as a learning experience or point along the journey.

Few people can completely shut the negatives in their life and I believe it is human nature to focus on the negatives over the positives.  However, that doesn't have to be a place 'where we live' but instead maybe a place we visit from time to time or a reminder of what to avoid.

Anyway, that's my thoughts for the day or my story and I'm sticking to it.

-- Rich

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Criticism: Easier to accept from ourselves than others

I don't remember precisely how it came to me today.  However, I believe I was Spirit-led to a very concrete understanding and analogy of why we often find it easier to openly level criticism at ourselves than to accept the roughly same criticism from another.

This analogy involves a little incident I had years ago.  One day, years ago I got into an accident in stop and go traffic accident traffic.  I didn't realize how bad my brakes were until I tried to stop and wasn't able to.  But, I digress, we got a police report and they left.  My hood wouldn't shut and I had my niece in the car, so I had to find a way to get her home.  I found a cable and tied it down so I could get her home.  So, not a great 'fix' and not maybe the most stable, but still...  Anyway, I thought, I will stop at a store and get something less bulky and stronger to hold the hood down.  So, I tried that and tied the hood down again so it wouldn't slam the windshield.  As it turns out, that was a bad idea.  It held worse than the cable and slammed into the windshield shattering it.  But, I found out something I never really thought about--there is a protective film within it helping to keep it from imploding inwards into the car.

So, how does this relate to my understanding of how we deal with internal/external criticism?

  • When we criticize ourselves, I think we generally keep a protective layer between the criticism and ourselves to lessen the impact or 'damage' of it. The protective layer is how we shield ourselves against the impact of our own criticism  Anyway, similarly the windshield of our car has a thin protective film in the middle to help prevent the impact of a shattered windshield from sending shards of glass into the car risking our safety.
  • When another criticizes us, it can feel like the protective layer isn't there and therefore we feel the full impact of it.  It is similar to being behind glass without a protective layer.  The impact upon which like glass hurtling at us can cause us pain and injury.
  • When we criticize ourselves, sometimes we are serious and sometimes we know we just have to own up to a flaw/issue, but really don't want to face the impact of it.  Point is we understand and control the impact of our self-criticism and can adjust accordingly.  Criticism from another, even sometimes from a loved one, can feel like something large hitting our windshield.  It can really catch us off-guard and give little time to prepare for the effects of it.

Ultimately, in this life, we know are flawed.  We have to brave enough to own our flaws and make changes where necessary to 'fix' them.  We also have to not allow ownership of our flaws or hearing legitimate, properly sourced and timed criticism destroy us.  Alternatively, we also have to have the wisdom to reject criticism where it is illegitimate.  In other words, not to let any sense of personal failings allow of to take ownership of what ISN'T ours.  For example righteous anger is not a flaw.

I don't claim to be the source or guide to these points or questions.  In my life, my Higher Power, God is the ultimate authority on what my failings and positives are.  It is through Him and His word that I have the wisdom to appreciate and understand these matters.

Anyway, just a little nugget that occurred to me one day when I was driving, pondering and remembered an accident/incident I had.