Do you often find yourself paying way more attention to the negative things people say? Do you find you often ignore the positives? You might notice that you care too deeply about what other people think and say about you? This can have a big impact on your mood and what you think about yourself. If this sounds familiar, read on to explore this a little bit further.
It’s pretty normal to notice the negatives
Recently, I was reading a facebook post reviewing EMDR training that I work on. Most people had made lovely comments about how nice it was. One person had commented that they didn’t enjoy it. I found myself fixating on this point and thinking about what I had done and said in the training and worrying that I had done something wrong, that it was my fault. I just couldn’t settle from these feelings. And these feelings were strong, they were powerful!
Friends tell me similar things happen to them too. I spoke with one friend who sells handmade products and out of 10 reviews on Etsy, 1 was a little negative. She fixated on the negative review and dismissed the positives. Thinking bad about herself and worrying that people don’t like what she does.
Fascinating isn’t it! Does this connect with you?
We all have a natural bias towards negative things. It’s actually a survival mechanism and one of the things that has kept our species going for so long. If we interpret the leaves rustling as evidence that a tiger is hiding there, this may well have saved our lives in cavemen times. Something negative could easily turn into a threat to our being so we need to be well aware of it and protect ourselves from it. Whilst society has evolved and we are no longer as threatened by lions, tigers and bears somehow our negative bias has stayed the same.
Feedback only tells us about the person giving the feedback.
The work of Tara Mohr explains this perfectly (Click here to find out more). This has helped in the way I think about others and how I reflect on what others may say to me. The feedback says more about the person giving the feedback than it does about me receiving the feedback.
Just pause and hear that again, the feedback says more about the person giving the feedback than it does about me the receiver of the feedback. What an eye opener, what a different way of looking at things.
I grew up where there was always a rigid, strict rule in how we should behave and how things should be done. There was no flexibility around this. For me therefore I always have this struggle with thinking that there is one right way to do things and one wrong way. So I spent many years believing that feedback is always telling me how I should do better. And more so that I should do those things that other people thought I should do.
So let’s think about the feedback we might receive, let’s think about what we hear people say. Take for example a person who has moved house and this gets discussed in the work office. You may hear comments such as “I didn’t like the colour she chose for her front room” “That sofa is too big” “I wouldn’t have bought on that street”. Now are any of these comments the actual truth? No they are not. They simply reflect the opinion of the person saying them. It’s just an opinion, it’s not a fact. Certainly it is never as clear or simple as there being a right and a wrong! So how much do we value receiving the opinion of the person giving the feedback. For me that’s where the magic is and this can change.
Who’s feedback do we value?
Now there will be many people in our lives who we want feedback from, who’s feedback we respect and might actually need to move forward. For example when I was training to be an EMDR Facilitator, I really needed the feedback of both the trainer and the people on the course. This helped me to develop the necessary skills to do a good job. I was learning both what the trainer needed and the course attendees needed. But even so, peoples feedback would differ.
Really we need to consider feedback or criticism not as a fact but as the givers opinion. It is then up to us what we choose to do with this. And it works the other way too, we will always give others feedback based on our opinion.
Our goal should not be to live our lives so we don’t get criticised but to live our life as we want to. To make decisions and choices about what opportunities we want to take. We can not live a life without criticism but know that that says more about the person giving the feedback than it does about us receiving the feedback.
Let’s have more compassion for ourselves and treat ourselves like someone we love. Click here to find out more about the psychological treatment I offer