So not too long ago I was on the receiving end of some scathing criticism. My first reaction, same as a lot of us tend to do, was to absorb that criticism into my heart.
Your brain is always trying to protect you (even if it doesn’t feel like it)
A therapist friend of mine once told me that our brains are hardwired to pay attention to and remember the negatives that people say about us. It’s a safety mechanism, she said, because it’s the negative stuff that can hurt you. So remembering the harsh criticisms is actually meant to keep you from harm (because you likely won’t put yourself in that same situation again).
That same friend said it also takes at least 5 positives to counteract a single negative, which is why you need to take excellent care of yourself and speak strength to yourself when someone is laying into you about what they perceive are your flaws.
You get to choose (like the proverb says): let go or be dragged
After I took a few minutes to think about that exchange, I decided to lean into compassion:
- for the person criticizing me: she must be going through a rough time to lash out like that.
- and also for me: I did my best and that’s all I can do.
So I let that criticism go.
Then I went on a long trail ride on my buddy, Cinch. There’s nothing like a horse and a gorgeous fall day in the woods to fix whatever ails you.
You are the best friend you’ll ever have, so have your own back
You’ve probably had negative things said to or about you. Don’t take them into your heart. If you’re hanging onto something negative, mulling it over in your mind, wondering if they are right about you, well, do yourself a kindness:
- learn from it (if there’s something constructive to be had)
- then let it go
- and go do something nourishing for yourself that’ll make you feel connected and alive.
Remember: the most important thing, always, is what you think and believe about yourself.
I’ve said this before, and I’m saying it here again: kindness seems to be in short supply in the world today. Kindness towards others, sure. But also, kindness toward yourself. Self-compassion is what you most need to heal yourself. Compassion for others is what’ll help heal the world.
You honestly have no idea exactly what someone is going through on any given day. A simple act of kindness really can change someone’s entire outlook on life for the better. (Note: an act of kindness toward yourself can do the same, too.) So with that in mind, I’ve designed four images that you can print, cut out, and share a bit of kindness with someone else (Get them here).
I hope you’ll do this kindness challenge and:
- Pick four people whose day you want to brighten.
- Write one thing (or more than one!) on the back about what you appreciate about that person and/or the reason you’re grateful for them being in your life.
- Give that card to them.
- You can also use one of those cards for yourself to write things you’re grateful for in your life.
Maybe it sounds like a mountain to climb, but I love a good challenge, so let’s all try to make the world a friendlier place. And if you have any other suggestions on how to do that, please leave a comment below.
Let’s see what we can do to spread a bit of kindness.